It's a time for great loss, both health-wise and financially, but the good news is that there are many ways to help locally, those in need – which could even be your neighbor – with these various ways to donate during this pandemic.
I've done some digging (it didn't take much) and I also asked some friends and family members through Social Media and lo and behold, I discovered several ways to help those in need around us – but first, the top two:
THE BULLDOG PROJECT WITH NAN KREEGER
Created by Nan Kreeger, who says she's always had a heart for the homeless, said that because she's been blessed her entire life, she loves to give back to the homeless. "They have become friends. They have my back and I'm not afraid to go to camps alone or stop a person on the street and give them water and socks."
Her personal philosophy is to "find a need and fill it," so before COVID-19, she handed out 50-70 sandwiches every Wednesday. "Things have slowed down because of the pandemic, but I still take clothes and socks as they are donated."
Donating to the homeless for the last seven years, Nan's Bulldog Project is not a business. "There's no website, no it's not a non-profit… it's basically my dime, my time!"
She encourages others to donate to churches, outreach programs, drop-off at homeless camps, or donate to her Bulldog Project.
Every year Nan does two requests for new socks and a $10 gift card from a fast food restaurant. The socks are the number one requested item asked by the homeless, which explains why she donated 600 pairs last March 2020.
"I hand them out on Christmas morning, rain or shine, with the gift card and a short note from the giver in each pair of socks," said Nan. "A hot cup of coffee and a burger go a long way to a cold and wet person."
She named her project after the three adorable bulldogs she has. "People may not remember 'me,' but everyone remembers the bulldogs or The Bulldog Lady!"
Nan Kreeger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ADOPT A FAMILY WITH HELEN GAZLEY
This past Christmas season was Helen's fourth year of "Adopt a Family" in Oakley, but she's been running it for many years in another county. "We did it often in Alameda from years 2000 to 2010," she said.
Helen, of Oakley, wants to give back to others because others have given to her.
"I have always wanted to help people just as complete strangers have helped me and my kids at such critical times in our lives," said Helen.
An office associate working in the mental health field, Helen talks about what inspired her to help others in this way. "I, myself, have been through so much and even my own daughter, who was kidnapped, so I know firsthand about being a single mom and being recipient of blessings that helped to restore my faith and hope," she said.
In order to find those in need, Helen says she starts with referrals from her job and other hospitals. This past Christmas, her goal was to help four families get adopted. "I normally help 8-10, but I am having challenges with my health recently," she said.
Here's how it works.
"Generally we tell the families that they can 'wish' for two toys, two books and two clothing items (which can be pajamas, outfits, jackets, socks, gloves or warm robes)," she said. "But only one item (each category) is guaranteed per child."
She says that if those who donate have a price requirement or maximum total preferred, that they let her know this information in advance and that they can also choose to drop off to the families directly, if they want.
This past Christmas, Helen had two families in Oakley, one in Antioch, and one in Brentwood.
Once she has four families adopted, then she can add additional families with Christmas wishes for their kids.
Of course, this past Christmas season was quite different than the ones before, since she had to utilize full safety precautions by using gloves, facemasks and always having Lysol applied upon entry and exit. She also used porch pick-ups with social distancing practices. "We even used Lysol to spray our shoes and kept hand sanitizer right at the door and porch area," she said.
Storing donations throughout the year can be challenging for Helen, which is why she needs metal shelving units, "to help me store the outreach separate from my own household canned items for our own family, and also be organized," she said.
To donate and help Helen adopt families in need, email her at email@example.com.
So those were the top two places I found, but that's not all. There are a host of other places one can help those in need during this ongoing pandemic, and help could be in other forms – such as education!
There's The Learning Community Project (TLCP) in Brentwood, where they provide free peer-to-peer education for everyone. I discovered that two sophomores at Heritage High School in Brentwood, Hailey Miranda and Ysaach Habon, created TLCP on April 24, 2020 (during the pandemic), and they are a nonprofit organization 501(c)(3). Their mission is to "aim to make life easier for students learning from home. We are aware that some people have trouble getting access to the help they need, and we believe that all students should have the opportunity to learn and grow, regardless of their situation." They are basically "students helping other students, who work to expand educational opportunities for children."
I also found that Delta Community Services, located at Sand Creek and Brentwood Blvd., accepts clean, gently used clothing items and are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays.
SEAMS TO HELP
The final place I found (and I'm sure there's many more!) was Seams To Help, which donates 500 masks to the California Farmworker Foundation. "Our amazing volunteers are happy to help, and we in turn thank all of those who have so generously donated materials to help us help others!" I discovered that California Farm Workers (a non-profit organization) offers programs and services to essential farmworkers throughout California, including distributing masks, combating food insecurity and providing virtual medical consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their website is www.californiafarmworkers.org. Volunteers and donations are needed! For more information on how you can help them continue their work on donating pillowcases for the troops and children who have lost their homes to the recent wildfires, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Note From Cypress Self Storage
At Cypress Self Storage, we truly care about our local community. As a locally-owned business, we take great pride in offering a truly unique self storage experience during these unprecedented times. We know that these are challenging times, and that is exactly why we are keeping our prices competitive with an abundance of specials (50% off your first two full months and also free use of our moving trucks, terms apply subject to availability). Also worth noting, we are are drop-off location for local resident Phoebe Kelleher's Recycling Project. Whether you need self storage or just want to talk about our local community, we are always here for you. We wish you all the greatest!