The season

Some worthy causes happening during the holidays and, in one case, year-round

My heart swelled when I walked into CN&R’s lobby a few days ago and saw that someone had dropped off a brand-new bike (complete with training wheels) for a 4-year-old boy living at the Esplanade House.

Each year, this newspaper partners with that organization in an effort to help make the holidays brighter for the kids living at that transitional housing facility. A tag bearing each child’s name hangs in our office until a reader—or, in some instances, a CN&R staff member—signs up to buy gifts for him or her. Each card gives suggestions on what to purchase, from practical gifts, such as shoes and clothing, to toys big and small.

I get a little nervous about the endeavor. There are a lot of kids in need (25 this year), and CN&R’s office doesn’t get the kind of foot traffic that you’d find at, say, the Chico Mall. Somehow, however, it works out. One time, it went down to the wire and the employees from Wittmeier Collision Center came in and saved the day by taking all of the remaining names—nine altogether. (It was the second year in a row they’d taken a bunch.)

This year, this paper’s readers, including my neighbors (who shopped for two kids!), put my mind at ease when the last tag was picked up—the week before the presents were due back to our office. None of the folks who dropped off presents receives anything in return for this act of generosity. They do it simply because they don’t want children to go without the joy that comes with opening something special on Christmas morning.

Speaking of charitable drives, CN&R isn’t the only place collecting toiletries for local service providers. Check out this week’s letters section to learn about an effort to gather feminine products for clients at the 6th Street Center for Youth. There’s also a write-up from the loving husband of a local woman who’s making care packages for folks on the streets.

I also want to give a shout out to Patrick Newman, a frequent writer of letters to the editor. Newman is kind of like me—folks either love him or hate him. As you may have read in our letters section over the past couple of years, he has his share of detractors. Say what you will, but Newman is an exceptionally generous person—both with his time and money—when it comes to serving Chico’s destitute.

His guerrilla-style “Chico friends on the street” event—a weekly effort to provide homeless citizens with items for basic needs and survival, including food, clothing, blankets, tarps, etc.—is rooted in his protest a few years ago of a church getting booted from City Plaza for serving meals to the needy (see “Out of sight, out of mind,” CN&R, Jan. 23, 2014). Aided by generous donors, Newman has sustained this effort regularly for nearly a year. And right now, as the nights get down to sub-freezing temperatures, his work is critically important.

Last winter, as CN&R reported, several homeless people succumbed to the elements. For some, a blanket could be the difference between life and death. To learn how to donate, email If this isn’t in the spirit of the season, I don’t know what is.