Gifts of Love for La Jolla: 12 ways to give this holiday season

By Ashley Mackin

To the tune of “12 Days of Christmas,” starting at Four Calling Birds

: “There are twelve ways this season, to help (your) community. Health/wellness groups, three toy drives, those helping kids and teams doing good in the town.”

OK, so it’s not all 12 days, but there are 12 terrific ways to help organizations that in turn help different groups within La Jolla and San Diego at large. Maybe one of these will touch your heart:

  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 appropriate for children under age 12.

How to donate: There are five drop off sites in La Jolla: LF Stores, 7864 Girard Ave., (858) 866-4220; Healthy Back, 8715 Villa La Jolla, (858) 558-2225; San Diego Marriott La Jolla, 4240 La Jolla Village Drive, (858) 597-6332; Torrey Pines Golf Shop, 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, (858) 452-3226 ext. 2; UCSD Extension, 9600 North Torrey Pines Road, building C, (858) 534-3117.

Deadline: Dec. 20. Contact:



La Jolla High School is collecting gifts during its holiday gift drive, donating them to families in need. A “giving tree” is posted in the office at 750 Nautilus St., which has tags on it that include a child’s name, age and what they would like. All are welcome to take a tag and bring in the gift, unwrapped, by Dec. 17.

  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: Drop off at any Vons, including the 7544 Girard Ave. location.

Deadline: Dec. 31


or (858) 527-1419

  1. A Bridge for Kids
About: With a mission of building a bridge between teens needing educational and financial assistance and people who can provide these resources, the La Jolla-based nonprofit matches teens with sponsors based on shared interests.

What to donate: Time or money. Sponsors are always needed, and recommendations for teens in need of sponsorship are being accepted. Financial submissions to the general fund are also being accepted, 100 percent goes to the teens in need.

How to donate: Information at

Contact: or (858) 212-3150

  1. La Jolla Friendly Visitors
About: This group offers a weekly, one- to two-hour visit with seniors or anyone who is homebound. The visits dispel feelings of loneliness and isolation (especially during the holidays) replacing such with hope and fun visits to anticipate.

What to donate: Time.

How to donate: E-mail the organization to sign up.


  1. National CHEERS Foundation
About: La Jolla-based National Care, Health, Empowerment, Education, Research and Support (CHEERS) Foundation, which hopes to be the community resource of record on women’s health issues, continues to raise grant funds for research and health institutions, outreach programs and health advocacy groups.

What to donate: Money to support the grants; the next grant cycle starts in January.

How to donate: Visit website for options.


  1. Doris A. Howell Foundation
About: Founded in 1995, and based in La Jolla, the Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research funds undergraduate scientists in their research, and educates women to be catalysts for better family health.

What to donate: Money for charitable activities and scholarships. In 2012, 92 percent of revenues were spent on these efforts.

How to donate:



  1. La Jolla Community Foundation
About: The foundation aims to promote civic engagement and pride through local philanthropy. It is launching a Partners In Grime project to clean downtown La Jolla on an ongoing basis. It will hire a contractor to: empty trash cans on city streets as often as needed; pick up litter on sidewalks, gutters and roadsides; strip and repaint tops of trash cans (where necessary); maintain clean trash can surfaces; power wash and wet vacuum sidewalks (where possible); remove graffiti and stickers; conduct weed abatement.

Who benefits: The citizens of La Jolla who want cleaner and better maintained streets.

What to donate: Funds to pay for the services.

How to donate: Contact the foundation for ways to contribute.

Deadline: Financial contributions are accepted on an ongoing basis.


  1. Torrey Pines Rotary
About: To avoid conflicting with Toys for Tots, the Torrey Pines Rotary Club has partnered with La Jolla Seville to collect stuffed animals for families of servicemembers and patients at children’s hospitals.

What to donate: New or gently-used stuffed animals.

How to donate: Bring to La Jolla Seville, 1001 Genter St.

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: Dec. 20


  1. Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary
About: The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary is selling a coupon book with “coupons” to give homeless people one might see asking for change on the street. Coupons include one free blanket, free pair of shoes or free meal, redeemable only at the Salvation Army. They recommend giving these coupons out instead of money.

What to donate: $25 buys the coupon book and helps support Salvation Army programs

How to donate: Purchase the book at

Contact: (619) 446-0273

  1. Fresh Start Surgical Gifts
About: The nonprofit provides surgeries and healthcare services for disadvantaged infants, children and teens born with a birth defect or deformity due to accident, disease or abuse. This year, the Vivien A. Nelson Foundation will match all donations to $10,000,

What to donate: Funds to pay for surgeries, which are provided at no cost to the patient

How to donate: Call (760) 448-2018 or mail a check or money order to: Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, 2011 Palomar Airport Road, Suite 206, Carlsbad, CA 92011

Deadline: Dec. 31

Contact: (760) 448-2018


Proceeds from the 22nd annual Red Nose Run will benefit Fresh Start and the Semper Fi Fund. The Run is a 5K and there is a 3K Run/Walk on the beach with participants decked out in holiday apparel, with a prize awarded for best costume. The Run will be 1 p.m. Dec. 13, at Del Mar Beach. Meet at 1670 Coast Blvd. Registration: $40 before Dec. 6, $50 after.

  1. More On the Menu (MOM)
About: Did you know that a $25 contribution to MOM will pay for a month’s worth of fresh produce for a home- bound senior? MOM adds fruits and vegetables to the regular meal deliveries provided by the Health and Human Services Department of San Diego County.

What to donate: $25 (or more happily accepted).

How to donate: Make checks payable to MOM-TSDF and mail to MOM, P.O. Box 23217, San Diego CA 92123


  1. American Red Cross
About: The American Red Cross serves those affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and other 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.


or (858) 309-1200


With the more than 55 tornadoes confirmed during November (which killed eight in Illinois and other states across the Midwest), the Red Cross is also distributing meals and relief supplies to those in need. The San Diego Chapter can only accept monetary donations.