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Holiday Cheer for Families in Need

Plus, good news for local seniors and three ways to help this holiday season

By Sarah Sapeda

More than 950 families received food, gifts, holiday cheer, and more at the 33rd annual United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council Food & Toy Distribution event last week. The donations were made possible through the Unions United safety net program, which uses a portion of the union dues collected from the council’s over 200,000 members to assist people in need.

“This year, all families have been impacted in one way or another by the pandemic. But many who experience economic and food instability year-round have gone through even more difficulties this year than others,” said Nancy Sasaki, president and CEO of United Way of San Diego County. “Our United Way team and partners at the labor council long awaited this time-honored event to support families in our diverse communities who rely on extra support during the holiday season.”

Good News / United Way

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria volunteers at the United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council’s Food & Toy Distribution event


The San Diego Seniors Community Foundation has given more than $31,000 in grants to local senior centers so they can brighten the holidays with drive-thru events, virtual celebrations, gift-giving, and more for those who can’t be with their loved ones this year. The grants, which will allow recipients to reach over 2,200 San Diegans, are part of the foundation’s No Senior Alone Initiative. Seniors are experiencing increased social isolation due to the COVID-19, and at least 1 in 3 older people won’t see their family this holiday season. The funds will allow organizations to create holiday-themed events for vulnerable elders who have been hardest hit by the pandemic. For instance, Sharp Senior Health Center will use its grant money to provide 150 seniors with gifts bags filled with gift cards; Del Mar Community Connections will deliver greenery arrangements, gift bags, and sweet treats to isolated seniors; and the Ramona Senior Center will create a holiday drive-thru party.

Nurses at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego are hoping to make the holidays a little sweeter for their hardworking colleagues. They are seeking treats, trinkets, and other donated items from local businesses to fill gift bags for the dedicated nurses and assistants staffing the hospital’s ICU, emergency department, and COVID-19 medical floor December 24 and 25.

“This holiday season has been unlike any other. It is already hard enough to have to work the holiday shifts in a hospital, but several staff members cannot go home to see family due to travel restrictions, the risk of taking something home to their families, and the risk of catching something during travels,” said Keri Cipperoni, a nurse in the Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unit at Scripps Mercy.

Cipperoni and the other organizers are seeking donations of lotions, pens, beauty products, self-care products, and gift cards or vouchers for services local to San Diego, with the goal of filling 100 bags by Christmas Eve.

“It’s been amazing to watch as the staff checks their personal stressors at the door to turn their focus for 12-plus hours to the endless queue of patients that need support, compassion, and a friendly face to turn to,” Cipperoni said. “We would love to support those on the front lines at a time in which they are asked to make the extra sacrifice to be away from their families.”

To learn more or arrange a donation, contact Cipperoni at [email protected] or 618-334-4049.

Wounded Warrior Homes has launched an end-of-the-year campaign, Full Force 4 Vets, to raise money to provide housing and support services to local veterans with traumatic brain injury and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. The nonprofit’s fundraising goal is $50,000.

“As we near the end of this extraordinarily difficult year, we are reaching out to you with our sincere thanks and an appeal to continue your support. We are honored by the community support we have received,” said Mia Roseberry, executive director of Wounded Warrior Homes. “This giving season, we need to raise $50,000 to continue to serve those veterans in need.”

To donate, visit

Little Italy mainstay Blick Art Materials has teamed up with The Dreaming Zebra Foundation to help put art supplies into the hands of local students. Through Christmas Eve, Blick will be asking customers to purchase items to donate to The VAPA Foundation, which supports visual and performing arts in San Diego schools. In exchange, customers will receive a coupon for 20 percent off, valid on purchases made from December 26 through January 6.

“We are honored to be named as a Charitable Partner by Blick Art Materials,” said Doreen Schonbrun, president of The VAPA Foundation. “Right now, there is a big need for art supplies, not only in our schools, but also in our students’ own homes. These donations will be life-changing for some of our students.”

Good News / Holiday Cheer

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