How to give more than thanks over the holidays

Many people came to The Berkeley Food Pantry on Tuesday seeking donations. Photo: David Buchholz

David Buchholz spent Tuesday afternoon at the Berkeley Food Pantry distributing food to over 250 families. Many of them stood in the rain for an hour or more waiting to pick up the donations. “Monday was just as busy. Today promises more of the same,” he told Berkeleyside.

“I just wanted you to know how much contributions are appreciated and how badly people need basic necessities that for the most part we often take for granted,” he said.

There is still a pressing need for donations to local agencies that help the under-served throughout the year. Many food banks are reporting higher than usual demand this year. The holiday season is as good a time as any to dive in. Below is a list of resources and agencies, with details on how you can help (hat-tip to Councilman Jesse Arreguín who sent out much of this information to his constituents):

The Berkeley Food Pantry is at the Friends Church, 1600 Sacramento Street (at Cedar). Contact them to learn how to volunteer, make a financial donation, how to donate food (and which types of food items are preferable), at 510-525 2280 or berkeleyfood@hotmail.com.


The Alameda County Community Food Bank serves one in six Alameda County residents, providing 49,000 people each week, nearly half of them children — from Berkeley to Fremont, Oakland to Livermore. Visit their website for information on ways to help  the Food Bank stock its shelves with high-demand non-perishable items, including by starting a traditional barrel drive, or doing a Virtual Food Drive.

The Alameda County Community Food Bank has donation bins at several locations in Berkeley where you can easily drop off bags of nonperishable foods:

  • Berkeley Bowl & Berkeley Bowl West 2020 Oregon Street, or 920 Heinz Street.
  • Star Grocery 3068, Claremont Avenue.
  •  UC Berkeley Campus, MCB 165 Life Science Building, M – F 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Congregation Beth Israel (CBI), located on Bancroft and Jefferson, is hosting a bin for the Alameda County Food Bank.

The Berkeley Food and Housing Project, located just a few blocks from Downtown on 2363 Bancroft Way (The Trinity United Methodist Church) on the second floor, does an amazing job providing food and shelter for those in need in our community. To make a monetary donation in lieu of nonperishable foods, please call 510-809-8584.

The Berkeley Neighborhood Food Project has a donor drive. The program enlists neighborhood coordinators who organize a small group of neighbors to donate food once every two months. A few extra items here and there add up to a big difference. As of December 2009, the program was picking up more than 55,000lbs of food every two months, county-wide.

In addition to food, a warm coat can go a long way as the weather gets colder. For nearly 15% of Americans living in poverty, a warm winter coat is a budget “extra,” according to US Census data. The One Warm Coat drive has several locations in Berkeley where you can donate a new or gently used coat, for both adults and children.


Coat Drive Dates: Nov. 19 – Dec. 14 Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm. Location: Materials Sciences Division, Berkeley Lab, 1 Cyclotron Rd. Organized By: Materials Sciences Division, Berkeley Lab. Contact: Alice Muller-Egan Phone: (510) 486-6230. Agencies Benefited: BOSS: Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency

Coat Drive Dates: Nov. 21-Dec. 21 Hours: 10AM-5PM. Location: East Bay Sotheby’s International Realty. Location Address: 2 Tunnel Road. Organized By: East Bay Sotheby’s International Realty. Contact: Christine Allen Phone: (510) 542-2600. Agencies Benefited: Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center-Berkeley

Coat Drive Dates: Nov. 24 Hours: 4pm-12am. Location: Bec’s Bar & Bistro. Location Address: 2271 Shattuck. Organized By: Berkeley High Alumni. Contact: Orlando Williams Phone: (510) 508-0184. Agencies Benefited: BOSS

The Lutheran Church of the Cross, located on 1744 University Avenue (between McGee and Grant), is conducting a drive for new twin blankets, towels, pillows and pillow cases to serve homeless youth through the Youth Engagement, Advocacy and Housing (YEAH!) program. Donations are accepted anytime between 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.

BOSS, located in Downtown Berkeley, is accepting food donations, particularly fresh turkeys and ham to serve to homeless adults and children on Thanksgiving Day. There are also volunteer opportunities! Please Call Janny at 510 649-1930 x 221 or email santana400@aol.com to find out how you can help and where you can drop off donations.


Help out pets and pet owners this Holiday Season by donating pet food for the Paw Fund ,a nonprofit started by Berkeley resident,Jill Posener. You can drop off donations at the new Berkeley Animal Shelter, recently renamed the Dona Spring Animal Shelter.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers. We’ll be back on Monday.

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