Give local

This year, why not substitute donations for gifts? A card with a note stating that a donation has been made to a local charity can bring as much good cheer as a gift, especially if thought goes into selecting the appropriate organization.

Here are some local options.

• The Salvation Army is one of the largest and best-known groups that provide annual services to needy families in the Sacramento area, including food and toy drives. For more information, call (916) 563-3700. For a list of volunteer opportunities, go to

• Sacramento Loaves & Fishes is a cherished local organization that assists homeless Sacramentans year-round and especially during the holiday season. Make a cash donation or volunteer at or call (916) 446-0874 for more information.

• Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services has a variety of programs: the food bank itself, serving 15,000 area residents monthly; well-baby programs; a clothes closet; programs for children and the elderly; and educational resources for all ages. To donate or volunteer, visit the Web site at or call (916) 456-1980.

• St. John’s Shelter Program for Women and Children, serves hundreds of women and children in need of shelter. A needs list is available online at wishlist.php, and a holiday wish list can be downloaded as a PDF file. For more information about making donations to St. John’s, see the Web site or call (916) 453-1482.

• Francis House is an interfaith effort to provide crisis services for the area’s most disadvantaged, including emergency-transportation vouchers, shelter, counseling, job referral and assistance in receiving other services. It’s a clearinghouse of information and support for our neighbors in crisis, and given how tough times are, Francis House can use all the help it can get. Donations can be made online at For more information about donating or volunteering, contact Francis House program manager Forrest Reed at (916) 443-2646.

The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals can help you adopt a furry family member this holiday season. The SSPCA’s shelter has basic needs, with a list available on their Web site at For information about donating cash, see the Web site or call the fundraising office at (916) 383-7387, ext. 9105. Another way to help the animals while still putting some brightly wrapped goodies under the tree is to do your holiday shopping at the SSPCA’s Thrift Store, at 1517 E Street in Sacramento. They’ve got a wide variety of clothes, knickknacks, small furniture and books, with proceeds going to keep the shelter’s animals eating whatever chow they need.