Holiday giving

Family parties, work mixers, Santa Claus—the holiday season is here. Hollister and San Juan Bautista started the festivities with night-time parades, where residents came out in droves to watch their friends, family and neighbors wave from lit up floats, trailers or classic cars, steaming cups of hot cocoa and bags of popcorn the perfect repast as they waited patiently in lawn chairs set up along San Benito Street in Hollister and Third Street in San Juan Bautista to watch the show.

As a twenty-something the day after Halloween was like January 1, the beginning of a new chapter, a chance to sit back, regroup, enjoy the cooling weather and shorter days. Now, the holidays are a rush of school Christmas programs, potlucks and shopping trips. Retailers stock their shelves with Halloween costumes as soon as the pencils and binders for Back to School are all gone and before the last princess dress is lying in a discarded heap on the shop floor, Thanksgiving centerpieces are up for sale. Over the last few years, Black Friday has transitioned to Thanksgiving Day and before December has even begun, Christmas trees are decked with baubles and sparkling lights.

The season is not all about consumption. The holidays incite generosity. The Hollister Police Department and local retailers donated their time and products to Turning Wheels, a San Jose-based charity that builds and distributes bikes to Bay Area children in need. Holte Holiday Dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas feed hundreds each year in Hollister. The Annual 12 Days of Giving Campaign provide vital funding to Chamberlain’s Children Center, CASA of San Benito County, Community FoodBank, and Emmaus House through the generosity of individuals and businesses who provide matching donations. Interested in “adopting” a foster child this season? Contact CASA at (831) 647-4992 and the organization can provide you with a list of a child’s top needs and two wishes. They also accept donations of new and unwrapped gifts  and monetary donations, which will be matched by local businesses if made to CASA by Dec. 12. Then there are the toy drives, the canned food drives and the groups that provide winter coats. And get your children involved, too. I was so proud when my daughter was in Kindergarten and was excited to buy a toy to give to Toys for Tots.

As the nights grow colder the local shelters open their doors. Homeless families and individuals make their way to the safe and warm confines of clean facilities, a place to sleep, eat a hot meal and stay safe. As a young child I stayed in a women’s shelter for a while and I can still remember the kindness of the ladies who showed me and the other children how to make macaroni necklaces. When you are young and do not have what others’ have, you feel the holidays keenly and a new toy, bike or warm coat on Christmas is like the world telling you that everything is okay. The new permanent shelter in Hollister, the HOME Resource Center at 1161 San Felipe Road is accepting donations. The operator says items like undergarments and socks are needed. Whatever your religious or spiritual persuasion, remember to take a moment this holiday season, look up a local charity or holiday campaign and give.

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