No, not Jesus. Tips on holiday volunteering and Bay Area gifts that give back
HOLIDAY GUIDE With the presidential election over, we are reminded that though our quest for reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality may continue unabated, making a difference must not be limited to a "Ya Voté" sticker every four years. Here's a brief list of ways to do good this season, including community gardening, beach cleanups, and gift fairs where you can shop for a good cause.
Outdoorsy types take note. SFGRO (www.sfgro.com ) has a mission to elevate the profile of community gardening in San Francisco, and to provide support to local gardeners. You can do your part by helping out in the following areas: composting, garden safety and security, resource material development, administrative tasks, and fundraising. Jump into the mix all over the city: the De Haro, Dearborn, Alioto Mini-Park, Page Street, and Potrero Del Sol gardens all need help.
You can also help out at Hayes Valley Farm (450 Laguna, SF. www.hayesvalleyfarm.com ) during it's last winter. The farm is set to be turned back over to the city next year, at which point founder Jay Rosenburg hopes enough people will have learned agriculture skills at the farm to continue its mission elsewhere. "It will create a big fireworks explosion and everything we've created here will break off to little pieces all over town," he recently told Edible San Francisco.
Help maintain the beauty of the five-mile-long Ocean Beach with the Surfrider Foundation's regular cleanups. Bonus: they'll give you a chance to commune with our sandy spaces in the winter, when the waves are at their most ruggedly beautiful (Next events: Dec. 4 and 18, 10am-noon. Ocean Beach, Stairway No. 17, SF; Dec. 31, 10am-noon. Baker Beach, SF. sf.surfrider.org)
In the North Bay, we suggest you peruse the various opportunities available through Volunteer Marin (555 Northgate Drive, San Rafael. (415) 479-5710, www.volunteermarin.org .) The organization solicits requests from local nonprofits for donations or volunteer time. Its altruistic options include preparing and serving holiday meals, donating food, clothing, or requested gifts, and decorating or wrapping presents.
We are very much proud to say that San Francisco is home to the oldest toy drive in the whole country. The organization responsible for this is our beloved San Francisco Fire Department (www.sffirefighterstoys.org .) Find the nearest fire station to you and be part of the effort to get gifts to over 40,000 disadvantaged children.
Although many homeless shelters tend to fill up their volunteer shifts early on during the holiday season, head to At The Crossroads (Dec. 12, 6-8pm. 333 Valencia, SF. (415) 487-0691, www.atthecrossroads.org ), when volunteers are needed to assemble care packages for homeless youth in city.
Kids Enjoy Exercise Now (www.keensanfrancisco.org ) is an awesome national organization whose mission is promote physical activity among kids and young adults who have developmental disabilities. KEEN is recruiting people to be volunteer coaches, and those who sign up will be paired with an athlete for hours of fun and games — an easy thing to do that'll make a big difference in a young person's life.
And finally, for those of us too lazy or computer-bound to do anything besides point-and-click this holiday season, we present to you Games that Give (www.gamesthatgive.net ) Play an online game like solitaire or mini-golf and for every 10 seconds you're occupied -- and viewing the site's sponsors' ads -- a charity of your choice receives a certain amount of funds.
One thing people in the Bay Area love to brag about is our access to a wide selection of some of the best wines in the world — which many will be taking full advantage of this holiday season. Sometimes the vast number of options can be anxiety-inducing, which is why we recommend ONEHOPE (www.onehopewine.com ), a socially-conscious winery that donates 50 percent of its profits to partner charities and has raised over $750,000 to date.
It's not only one of the largest events recognizing women's craft in the nation — the Women's Building's Celebration of Craftswomen (Dec. 2, 9am-1pm, free. Fort Mason, SF. (650) 615-6838, www.celebrationofcraftswomen.org ) is a great place to satisfy your gift-giving needs. Note: an event as big is this requires all hands on deck — the organization would love your help in admissions, crowd monitoring, relief for exhibitors, plus organizing the raffle and silent auction.
One of our favorite entrepreneurship programs in the city puts together an amazing assemblage of its graduates just in time for your eight crazy nights or stocking stuffing. La Cocina's Gift Bazaar (Dec. 7, 1-7pm, free. Crocker Galleria, 50 Post, SF. (415) 824-2729, www.giftbazaarsf.com ) presents a pageantry-filled flea market dedicated to showcasing foodie goodies and handcrafted/artisan gifts.
This is the first year that the Contemporary Jewish Museum (736 Mission, SF. (415) 655-7800, www.cjm.org ) has published a gift catalogue featuring its gift shop's treasures, like modern-eclectic menorahs — one of which is shaped a cable car — artisan jewelry, and children's toys. All sales proceeds benefit the museum's ongoing efforts to bring Jewish art, history, and culture to the Bay Area.
Meals on Wheels (www.mowsf.org ) would to invite you and yours to put those creative aptitudes to work brightening the holidays for the elderly and handicapped. Wrap and stuff gifts, and make holidays card for distribution to the group's meal recipients during the first two weeks of December.