12 ways to help others this holiday season

By Ashley Mackin

The most wonderful time of the year can be made more wonderful for San Diego’s underprivileged population with your help. Several organizations are hosting opportunities to donate toys, clothing and food this holiday season. For many children, donated toys are the only gifts they receive. While not all local, many of these organizations have local drop-off locations.

  1. American Red Cross
About: Though not a local organization, the American Red Cross serves those affected by Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters.

What to donate: Though previous donations were greatly appreciated, officials say the Red Cross is only asking for financial donations.

How to donate: Visit, call 1-800-red-cross, text RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or mail a donation to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington D.C., 20013 or the local chapter at 3950 Calle Fortunada, San Diego, CA 92123.

Additionally: The Smiles for Soldiers program is also available through the Red Cross. Donations of varying amounts grant gifts to soldiers for the holidays. A $20 donation sends a phone card to a soldier. A $50 donation sends a comfort kit that includes a robe, shower shoes, toothpaste, an MP3 music gift card and other comforting items. A $75 donation provides a training course for families of service-members for when they return home.

Contact: or (858) 309-1200

  1. Toys for Tots
About: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve- based toy drive has been collecting donations for children since 1991, which are distributed at Christmas.

What to donate: New, unopened and unwrapped toys that are appropriate for children under 12.

How to donate: Drop off toys at La Jolla Home Theater and Automation, 6837 La Jolla Blvd., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for more information, call Danielle Ryan at (858) 750-3177. Or Best Buy, 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., for more information, call Robin Fekete at (858) 587-6379.

Deadline: Dec. 18.

Contact: or (858) 967-1269

  1. San Diego Food Bank
About: The San Diego Food Bank, which serves some 400,00 San Diegans, is hosting a food drive for the holidays.

What to donate: Canned meats (tuna, ham, chicken), canned soups, canned fruits and vegetables, dried goods (such as dried beans, pasta, rice, and other grains); peanut butter; and infant formula.

How to donate: Donations can be dropped off at any Vons, including the 7544 Girard Ave. location.

Who benefits: San Diego residents and families living in poverty.

Additionally: La Jolla High School is collecting canned goods through Dec. 9 to go to the Food Bank. They are not accepting perishable goods or glass.

Deadline: While there is no deadline for donations, the Food Bank will distribute food through Dec. 31.

Contact: or (858) 527-419

  1. Promises2Kids
About: Promises2Kids is a non-profit which gives toys to Foster Children during the holidays.

What to donate: New, unused, unwrapped toys and gifts for children, ages infancy to 18.

How to donate: Bring toys to Blended Industries, 1025 Prospect St. #220; Prepkitchen, 7556 Fay Ave.; Sunrise La Jolla, 810 Turquoise St.; Symbolic Motor Car Co., 7440 La Jolla Blvd.; Hyatt Regency La Jolla, 3777 La Jolla Village Drive; Bird Rock Elementary, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.

Deadline: Dec. 12.

Contact: or (858) 278-4400

  1. UC San Diego Toy Drive
About: The UC San Diego faculty and staff are hosting a toy drive for children of all ages.

What to donate: Gifts for infants: developmental toys, rattles, musical toys, mobiles, stuffed toys; gifts for toddler and children: dolls, trucks, crayons, finger paint, markers, coloring books, CDs, Disney movies, Wii, Playstation and Xbox games, large block Legos, wooden puzzles, board games; and gifts for teens: makeup, nail polish, lotions, sportswear, sports equipment, posters, movies, CD players with AC adapters.

How to donate: Donation boxes can be found on the UCSD campus in the Super-Computer Center, Room 427, or the on-campus credit union lobby.

Contact: (858) 534-5064

Who benefits: Donated toys will be distributed to the UCSD Medical Center Burn Unit; UCSD Infant Care Center; UCSD Bannister Family House; UCSD Mother, Child, and Adolescent Care; San Diego Union Rescue Mission.

Deadline: Dec. 12.

  1. La Jolla YMCA
About: The YMCA mission states, “The YMCA of San Diego County is dedicated to improving the quality of human life and to helping all people realize their fullest potential as children of God through development of the spirit, mind and body.”

What to donate: Toys and gifts for children up to age 17.

How to donate: Bring an unwrapped gift to any YMCA location, including 8355 Cliffridge Ave. location.

Who benefits: Youths who participate in YMCA programs.

Deadline: Dec. 7.

Contact: or (858) 453-3483

  1. Torrey Pines Rotary
About: To avoid conflicting with Toys for Tots, the Torrey Pines Rotary has partnered with the Girl Scouts of America to collect stuffed animals for families of service members and patients at children’s hospitals.

What to donate: New or gently used stuffed animals.

How to donate: Bring stuffed animals to Willow Grove Elementary School, 14727 Via Azul, San Diego

Who benefits: Patients at Rady Children’s Hospital, Hospital Infantil de las California, Children’s Lifeline and children of local service men and women.

Deadline: Nov. 27.


  1. Just In Time for Foster Youth
About: My First Home for the Holiday helps transition foster teenagers to independent living when they turn 18 by assisting with furnishing apartments and offering a support system.

What to donate: Gift cards (to help fund home furnishings); knives and cutting boards; full size bedding and sheets; comforters; bath towels; vacuums; toasters; microwaves; lamps; pots and pans; dishes.

How to donate: Bring gift cards or new household items to 3878 Old Town Ave., Suite 200, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Deadline: Dec. 7.

Contact: (619) 683-9340,ext. 28 or

La Jolla Concerns

  1. The Children’s Pool Walkway Beautification project seeks to remodel the sidewalk along Coast Boulevard and reduce storm water pollution. The La Jolla Parks and Beaches- sponsored project will replace cracked sidewalk, widen the main walkway, add a second overlook, replace some plants, improve parking and the appearance of the Lifeguard Station.

How to donate: Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation can call Phyllis Minick, (858) 459-5939 or send money to LJPB Beautification Committee, La Jolla Parks & Beaches, Inc., P.O. Box 185, La Jolla, CA 92038

  1. La Jolla Community Center needs funds to complete facility upgrades. While several renovations projects were recently unveiled, others are still needed and could cost approximately $200,000. These include: flooring throughout the Center, furnishing the new Las Patronas room, painting the building interior and exterior, and replacing old carpeting.

How to donate: Benefactors can send a check to 6811 La Jolla Blvd., La Jolla CA 92037; call (858) 459-0831; or visit and click “Donate” and access the PayPal account online.

  1. La Jolla Christmas Parade is still in need of approximately $15,000 for the parade to occur. The parade will be 2 p.m. Dec. 2 along Girard Avenue. More than 20,000 people attend the parade annually to watch horses, bands, floats, a flyover and other participants, and culminates with a tree-lighting ceremony. The parade is completely funded by donations.

How to donate: Visit or mail a tax-deductible donation to La Jolla Town Council Parade Foundation, 7734 Herschel Ave., Suite F, La Jolla, CA 92037

  1. La Jolla Community Foundation.
Seeks donations for community improvement projects, including funding a world-class public art project Murals of La Jolla. Learn how you can participate as a member or patron at