Spreading holiday cheer with our partners

Santa, Faith Food Fridays staff member and The Grinch

Mary Ann Buggs knows how stressful hunger can be – even when it’s not the holiday season. Before she became the administrative director at Faith Food Fridays food pantry in Vallejo, she faced food insecurity as a single mom.

“It weighs on your mind all day long: How am I going to feed these kids? How am I going to get the food? Where can I get the food?” she recalls. 

But this holiday season already feels more intense than usual. Since September, Mary Ann has been receiving calls from parents who are anxious to register for Faith Food Fridays’ annual holiday toy giveaway.

“It’s never been this early,” she says. “I know they’re frantic. They don’t have enough for food, they definitely don’t have enough for a happy Christmas.” 

That’s why Mary Ann, and so many of our agency partners in Contra Costa and Solano Counties, are working hard to provide our neighbors with some holiday joy – and the food they need for a healthy, happy holiday dinner. Here are just a few of the plans that your support helps to make possible:

Turkeys and toys at Faith Food Fridays

Faith Food Fridays is open on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday at 826 Solano Ave, Vallejo. The pantry typically serves 800 households (about 2,400 individuals) each week.

Santa, Faith Food Fridays staff member and The Grinch

Faith Food Fridays will distribute at least 800 turkeys between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Nov. 17, as well as holiday boxes filled with stuffing, gravy, seasonal vegetables and more. Another holiday distribution will take place on Dec. 22 with even more festive flair – including appearances by Santa Claus and the Grinch and holiday music provided by a local DJ. Families who sign up ahead of time will also get toys for their kids.  

Little luxuries to lift spirits at Monument Crisis Center 

Monument Crisis Center distributes food on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 1990 Market Street, Concord. It also offers after school tutoring, adult language, nutrition and cooking classes, senior programs and more. The center expects to serve about 3,000 households a month during the holiday season.

Monument Crisis Center staff
Monument Crisis Center will begin distributing turkeys at 9 a.m. on Nov. 17. The turkey distribution is open to all. The Center will also distribute special holiday food boxes for the first three weeks of December. The boxes contain extra food – including special touches like baking supplies, coffee and hot chocolate. 

Danny Scherer, interim executive director at Monument Crisis, says it’s those little comforts that often mean the most for neighbors – “The fun items, or a bit of a luxury if you can’t afford it.”

Healthy holidays with Boys and Girls Empowerment Club

The Boys and Girls Empowerment Club distributes food on Thursdays and Saturdays at 1624 Fairgrounds Dr Ste C, Vallejo. It typically serves 200 people a week.

The Boys and Girls Empowerment Club is hosting a Thanksgiving Community Gathering on Nov. 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 100 Whitney Ave., Vallejo. The day will feature games, community resources and food baskets featuring everything needed for a turkey dinner. On Dec. 18 they’ll host a food and health fair with free health checks, vaccinations and other wellness services – as well as more holiday baskets. The Club will also host its annual toy giveaway in December, where it will also raffle off 50 to 100 bikes. 

Organizer Orlando Graham said he’s expecting the need for both food and fun to be greater than ever. “We’re seeing a lot of people,” he said. “We’re over a month away and we’ve already had over 52 people sign up to get a box.”

A turkey that’s just right at Grace Temple COGIC

Grace Temple COGIC distributes food every Tuesday and Friday starting at noon at 1001 Fitzuren Road, Antioch. It typically serves 75 to 100 families per week. 

Grace Temple COGIC
After nearly 20 years of serving their community, volunteers and staff at Grace Temple COGIC have learned the art of picking the perfect turkey for their neighbors, says Pastor Henry Kelly. Many of the neighbors who use the pantry live in nearby seniors complexes, which  have smaller-than-average ovens. That means too large a bird simply won’t fit – “so we get the medium-sized ones, so they end up with a nice healthy home cooked Thanksgiving dinner.” 

The turkeys, as well as all the food needed for a holiday meal, will be distributed on Nov. 18, and again the week before Christmas to neighbors who sign up in advance. Toys will be available for kids in December, and hot beverages will be on offer during both holiday distributions, so everyone who comes can take some time to connect with the Grace Temple community and enjoy some holiday cheer. 

You make the holidays brighter for our neighbors

Your support gives us the ability to help our 260 agency partners purchase the traditional holiday foods and seasonal produce that bring people together and inspire so much joy at this time of year. Give today to provide warm holiday meals and hope for brighter days ahead to 1 in 4 of your neighbors.

Looking for holiday food? Use our Find Food Map to find distributions and food pantries near you.