Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Toy Program and Food Bank

One of the great things about San Fran at Christmas is the high profile of charity. There are two particular charities that anyone new to the city cannot fail to notice: the San Francisco Fire Fighters' Toy Program and the San Francisco Food Bank.

Pictured are the vividly decorated barrels in the US Bank for staff to drop toys and food into. All around the city are barrels for new, unwrapped toys and food. At many staff Christmas parties, people are asked to contribute a gift.

The barrels are in public places also. One Saturday the fire service set up a fake snow pile outside Bloomingdales where for a donation children could have their photos taken in a snow fall. Snow is not something you otherwise see in a San Fran winter!!!!

The toy program is the oldest collection of it's kind in America. It began in 1949 with a few firemen generously repairing toys and bikes for 15 families and now involves over 300 firemen, volunteers included, giving over 200,000 toys to more than 40,000 needy children.

The Food Bank feeds 42,000 people at Christmas.

Both programs are not only for Christmas but run throughout the year. The firefighters help children including those who are in hospital, living in shelters for abused women and children, or made homeless through disaster.

The Food Bank is a safety net for up to 150,000 people living with the threat of hunger.

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