Berkeley High seeks donations for annual Holiday Meal

Berkeley High School students serve pie at last year’s Holiday Meal. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Every year, dozens of Berkeley High School students produce a holiday meal extravaganza for some 300-500 homeless or low-income people and families in the Berkeley community. As well as preparing and serving a warming meal, the school offers clothing, books, shoes, toys, blankets and provides entertainment.

The annual Holiday Meal will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15, and the school needs donations. So far the organizers, the BHS Student Leadership Team, have collected almost $1,000 and over 500 pounds of food, but the goal is to reach 10,000 pounds of food before Dec. 14.

Student serves up a ham in 2011. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

“Currently we have about five turkeys and five hams that have been pledged by gracious donors, but we will need more,” the team writes in an email to the BHS community. “Any contribution you can make will help guarantee that we have enough food for all. And don’t worry about leftovers — we are working with a local agency to make sure that the leftover food gets used.”

Donation information via BHS:

  • We are seeking fresh food or monetary donations to help us put on this special event.
  • What we are most in need of is pre-cooked hams or turkeys, potato or yam-based dishes, green salads or vegetable dishes, and canned/packaged foods such as tuna, soups or pastas.
  • Monetary donations are also a huge help, and will help us buy basics such as butter, sugar, flour, foil and other food to round out our meal.  They will also help us cover decorations and entertainment to make this not only a belly filling but heartwarming experience for those that attend.
  • Fresh food donations can be delivered between 4:30pm-7pm on Friday, Dec. 14 or 8am-12pm of Saturday, Dec. 15 to the main doors of the school at Milvia and Allston.  Please indicate what time you would like deliver your donation.
  • Monetary donations are accepted as cash in the Leadership Office (make sure it gets to Mr. Young) or as checks written to “BHS Student Activities” with “Holiday Meal” in the memo line. These donations are tax deductible and a letter of receipt with the school tax ID number will be given upon request. They can be mailed to:

Berkeley High School
ATTN: John Villavicencio
1980 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA  94704

Also note that the team does not need anymore volunteers as they already have in excess of 150 people committed to the event.

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  • Tizzielish

    I am surprised this great holiday food program conducted by Berkeley H.S. students does not have an online way to collect cash.

    It seems a bit stingy to say “we don’t need anymore help, just money and food”. Instead of having a one-off good deed, these kids and this annual effort could become a conduit to getting more and more of our community involved. Maybe they don’t need help with this particular meal but, hey, feeding the hungry does not have to be limited to one day at the holiday time.

  • Berkeleyfarm

    I would suspect that a number of the community helpers have signed up well
    in advance and are “repeaters”. There’s also the pool of BHS students to pull
    from – in my opinion, it’s important for them to get the experience!

    I run a monthly meal and have had to turn volunteers away in November every
    year I’ve done it. Other months I am scrambling for bodies. I do especially
    cherish the folks who are there month in and month out.

    BHS does good work with this particular meal although they could probably
    be a lot smoother on how they get the rest of the community involved. Given the bureaucratic shenanigans level at BUSD, I’m not terrifically
    surprised they don’t have a paypal button or similar. (That reminds me, I need
    to finally get it together for our website.)

  • Dhammadina

    It’s not clear how to contact the right people if I want to donate a dish on Saturday morning. The article suggests they need to know this info beforehand. Is there an email address or phone number?

  • emraguso

    I believe you can email John Villavicencio, Director of Student Activities for Berkeley High School at johnvillavicencio AT

  • BUSD teacher