Charities that Serve Children

Parent Q&A

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  • Donating used goods to help women and kids

    (4 replies)

    I have some miscellaneous items I’d like to donate to help women and children in need, refugees starting over in the U.S., victims of domestic violence, or other folks facing similar difficulties.  In the past I’ve donated to Bananas, since they often accept items that other places don’t, but I thought I’d check and see if there are other places that could use some random items. Some of the things I have:

    Used but in good condition: toys, kid’s and women’s clothing, a stroller, Ergo carrier. 

    Unused items: disposable diapers, random toiletries like contact lens cases and sample sized mouthwash and floss packets.

    In the next 6 months I’ll be getting rid of some larger items, like a toddler bed, so it would be great to find someplace I could donate to periodically.

    I'm also thinking of giving a small cash donation this holiday season, and having my kids pick out a few gifts (like new toys or pj’s) that we can donate.  My income is modest so I can’t make large or regular financial donations, but I’d like to do something to help, and get my kids thinking about helping others too. Someplace in North Oakland would be ideal, Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito/Richmond OK too.  

    Thank you BPN for your suggestions!

    In the past we have donated to Ruby's Place in Hayward.  They are a great, effective, well-run organization whose mission is to help victims of domestic violence (women and children), those dealing with homelessness, and victims of human trafficking.  I think the org was founded in the 70s. They are always looking for items for kids especially.

    Contact the Women's Daytime Dropin Center in Berkeley!

    Oakland Elizabeth House is a great place to donate for Women & Children.  Especially diapers, etc.  It is located at the very northern part of Oakland on Colby.

    Also St. Vincent's Day Home, in the West:  1086 Eighth Street, Oakland.  They provide child care and family services to low income families.

    Occasionally I bring strollers and car seats in really good condition to Jewish Family & Community Services of the East Bay.  They serve immigrants, low income, etc.  Call before you take things over since they can't really store lots of items there.  They're a great organization and I've been a volunteer for years.    (510) 704-7475

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Berkeley charity that makes a real difference for children?

Sept 2013

We would like to make a donation to a Berkeley charity that will make a real difference in the lives of children living in Berkeley. We're sure there are good works being done benefiting children in Berkeley that we have not heard about, so we're asking for suggestions. Which education-related funds do the very best for the kids here? Thank you, in advance, for your advice. ~Long-time Berkeley resident

Thank you so very much for your commitment to Berkeley Public Schools! I was raised in the Berkeley public school system and am now a long-time teacher at Berkeley High. Berkeley schools provide amazing opportunities for kids to learn and grow, and you can support dynamic and hard working teachers, counselors, and staff to enrich classrooms and support students through either the Berkeley High School Development Group ( or the Berkeley Public Schools Fund ( --Grateful teacher

The Berkeley Public Schools Fund, formerly Berkeley Public Education Foundation. They give grants directly to classroom teachers and school staff that immediately benefit children in Berkeley schools. Thank you for helping our kids!!! Jill H,

What a thoughtful and meaningful way to make a difference in your own community! I strongly recommend donating to the Berkeley Cooking and Gardening Alliance. All of our Berkeley public schools have cooking and gardening programs, but lost funding as of this year. Most schools have had to pare down or lose the programs until they can fund them. As a parent of a 1st-grader in BUSD, I can tell you that these programs have been an extremely valuable part of my child's education. Here is a link with more info and how to donate. You can donate to the district-wide program or to one at a specific school (in which case, I must advocate for Washington!). Whatever you decide, I'm sure you donation will have a meaningful impact on the schools in our community. Thank you for your generosity. Washington Elementary Mom

The berkeley public education foundation is a long-standing good organization that provides many grants to motivated teachers in berkeley public schools. You can see descriptions of the grants at their website, I believe. It is the group I would pick to donate to were I in your circumstances Find them at: And thank you! Another berkeley unified school district parent

I would suggest Berkeley Public Schools Fund (changed its name from Berkeley Public Education Foundation last spring) it has been supporting the Berkeley public schools for 30 years. They provide grants directly to teachers or for specific school or district-wide programs - about $300k/yr, and they also run the Berkeley Schools Volunteers program putting over 1500 volunteers in classrooms. Altogether between investment in programs and in-kind volunteer time, they direct $1.5 million into the schools every year. Check out their website christina

I am posting this for my good friend Elliot who does tremendous work with kids in school:
My name is Elliot Gann, Psy.D., director and founder of Today's Future Sound ( a fiscal project of Friends of Oakland Parks and Recreation (a registered 501c3), and a small, grassroots, start-up organization dedicated to using music production and media arts as vehicles to empower youth as artists and community members while fostering their well-being as individuals. I am trained as a therapist and have been doing therapeutic Hip Hop activity groups with at-risk youth in the Bay Area, and have been teaching and using this modality for almost a decade. While we primarily target under-served youth in Oakland, we just finished two week-long camps at City of El Cerrito, have taught at King Middle School in the after-school program San Francisco, San Jose, Toronto, Jackson in Mississippi, Baton Rouge in Louisiana the South Bronx and Chinatown in NYC and at Yale University to name a few places, all of this on a shoe-string budget in the past year. I use my experience working in schools and clinical training to guide our work, and also to make interventions as needed to help support students in the various schools at which we work. We are seeking financial support to continue this work and enable such a productive relationship. -Jane T.

Hi there long-time Berkeley resident, I have a few suggestions for organizations Berkeley organizations making a difference in the lives of children

1. Berkeley Community Fund ( -- provides 4-year scholarships and mentoring support for academically talented and resilient Berkeley High School seniors (disclaimer: I work there so I am particularly partial to this org).

2. Berkeley Public Schools Fund ( -- provides classroom grants, funds programs at Berkeley schools, and oversees the Berkeley Public Schools Volunteers program.

3. YMCA Teen Center ( -- offer a number of programs including Y-Scholars, Youth and Government and the Youth Institute. Hope this helps. Joleen

Regarding your desire to donate a large sum of money to a Berkeley non-profit that helps children, may I suggest AASK - Adopt a Special Kid ( Over 3,400 children who were in the foster care system and considered hard to place (being older, part of a sibling set or having emotional or behavior challenges)have been placed into loving adopting homes over the last 40 years that they have been working with children.

They are the 'go to' agency for people who have a heart to adopt these children, and the parents receive on-going extensive training on how to be a great parent and understand all that these children have gone through.

AASK believes that family isn't what it looks like, but what it feels like, and they are strong proponents for a variety of different types of families to foster/adopt : families of color, single people, older folks, and people in the LGBT community.

Their reputation is strong and were started by the DeBolt family of Piedmont, CA who adopted 14 kids and had 6 biological children as well. Our own family has adopted through AASK and we can't recommend them highly enough. They are a 501(c)3 that does not receive Federal or State monies and depends solely on individual contributions.

So if you'd like to make a difference in the lives of many children and families throughout the Bay Area, Adopt a Special Kid is your agency of choice! Anon

The best and most effective place to donate is the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, formerly thr Berkeley Public Education Foundation. Here is the website They provide funding for all sorts of school related activities and enrichment. Thanks! BUSD Parent

I highly recommend talking to the San Francisco Foundation. They are very familiar with the nonprofits in the area and can help you find an organization that will put your money to good use.

If you want to donate to a non-school service I have 2 ideas. But first here's the problem: kids and drugs Here's the second problem: not enough services/sources of research-driven education for the kids in Berkeley either at the level of kids doing risky experimentation or at the level of full-blown chemical dependence. So what to do?

1)Maybe approach the YMCA(YWCA?) that has that fancy new teen center downtown and see if they'd be interested in creating a resource service/program? Ask up front if they'd allow discussion of birth control/condoms( in the AIDS age, if they won't include this, send your money elsewhere)

2)Contact Ralph Cantor( works with Berkeley High as a consultant and is an educator) who knows a lot about the holes in services and where kids fall thru the cracks in Berkeley..he may have ideas on how your money would be best spent. Those are my 2 in Berkeley if you want to go bigger:

3)Thunder Road is a residential program in Oakland with inpatient and outpatient services( if you'd consider Oakland). You could help fund them. They are good with a long track record.

4) If you want to go bigger than Berkeley, contact CSAM( California Society of Addiction Medicine). Their offices are in SF and they do a lot of educational programming to help doctors identify,diagnose and treat addiction.Their affiliated MERF program gives full scholarships for a number of medical students and medical residents/fellows to attend their educational conferences for free J

Kerry's Kids is an amazing organization that provides mobile health care, including dental screening, health education, patient advocacy and community resource referral to underserved children in their neighborhoods. They would make excellent use of your donation. Ilene D.

Hi this is a wonderful place that could use your help. Thanks, Jamie K.

Hi! A great organization in Berkeley that helps kids is the Berkeley Public School Fund. You can find out more about them here! Good Luck! Ainate

How about Children's Hospital Oakland? It's not in Berkeley, but just adjacent, and a lot of the patients are from Berkeley. Many of the patients are uninsured, but no child is turned away. They save lives daily! They could really use your help. Grateful parent

Hello, We were heartened to read the donation offer from the long-time Berkeley residents to benefit the children of Berkeley. At the Kala Art Institute, a 501-(c)3 arts organization in Berkeley, we have been running Camp Kala, a summer arts camp for K-12 children, for the past 5 years. For more information: The cost of camp is $375.00/week or $300/week for the 4-day, July 4 holiday week. We have a scholarship program for Camp Kala students in financial need that would be an excellent program to make a donation towards. We could name the scholarship awards after the donors and direct these scholarships to students residing in Berkeley. Please contact Ellen Lake, Grants Manager at the Kala Arts Institute, if you are interested in this program or discussing other opportunities, ellen [at], ph. 510-841-7000, 204. Thank you, Ellen L.

Perhaps you already know of the Ann Martin Center--a wonderful community organization that provides psychotherapy and educational support for hundreds of kids. They've been around for years, are highly respected, and have recently moved to a great new facility in Emeryville. It's an organization with a highly skilled staff of dedicated and sensitive professionals. Well worth considering as you look at your options. Joseph S.

I would like to make a plug for FOBTC-- Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, a 501(c) that is now dedicated to rebuilding the long-lived camp. Since the camp just burned down last Sunday, there are so many things that are up in the air, but the city has indicated that it is committed to rebuilding the camp.

What I would like to do with the help of FOBTC is to rebuild the camp as a three-season environmental education center that works in tandem with BUSD to create an experience for all the public school children that right now doesn't exist. (My personal background is in education and science, and am presently a professor at a local college) If this interests you at all, I would love to discuss it further with you to see if our interests align. Amy

Take a look at Waterside Workshops in Berkeley at Aquatic Park. They provide vocational training through job-training and classes for local youth, while offering services to the community including a bicycle shop and repair facility, and a full service wooden boat building shop. I discovered it myself a few months ago when my son went to a birthday party that included renting boats at the park. I don't know the ins and outs of the organization, but I like the way they think. For example, on their website they sell chairs as a fundraiser that are made by youth in the program. It would be interesting to hear what they want to accomplish if there was an infusion of cash. I look forward to hearing what others suggest. Ruth E.

I know a perfect organization for you to donate to. Our very own Downtown Berkeley YMCA!

The past few springs, I have volunteered with the Y for their annual fundraiser to provide financial assistance for many families and individuals in need. For example, parents who need help paying for their child's swim classes (drowning remains the leading cause of accidental deaths in children), or for a child with special needs to take advantage of the many programs offered them, or for children with single parents to participate in Kids Night Out events, or for a child to participate in summer camp. I am often the most touched by how the financial assistance programs can help single parents. The Y is the 'tribe' that can help those kids when their parents are struggling. I recently met a single father there on one of the Y's Friday Family Nights -- an evening filled with free family friendly activities throughout the facility. A very nice man of limited means with a sweet little boy who told me he didn't know what he would do if it weren't for our Y. I sensed his burden, but was so taken by his positive attitude.

While the Downtown Berkeley Y is the largest in the country in memberships, we don't always make our financial goal each year. Your donation could help so many children have a place outside of school to learn, have fun, feel included, stay fit and, one day, become the next generation of leaders in our community. For more information on how to donate you may go to: Or call Mia Geogiu, Director of Financial Development at 510-486-8408. Regards, Lisette, Downtown Berkeley YMCA member and volunteer

How about Berkeley Youth Alternatives? I don't know a lot about it, but have heard good things and they seem to have strong ties to Cal. anon

I think it's wonderful that you want to support programs in our community. There are so many worthwhile causes, groups, and agencies run by passionate and dedicated people all who help benefit our community in so many ways.

I've been part of SNAP (Special Needs Aquatic Program) for the past 22 years. We take kids with special needs(physical or developmental) in the water. We used to swim at the BHS warm pool and now swim at the Berkeley YMCA (THANK YOU Berkeley Y!). With many kids in wheelchairs, we use volunteers from the community (mostly CAL) to give our kids a chance to move, play, socialize, and enjoy the fun of childhood. We have a small budget and run mostly on volunteer power so a donation would make a huge impact to our scholarship program and our ability to serve more children. Please let me know if you'd like to visit or learn more about SNAP. Thank you! dorimaxon

Please contact the East Bay Community Foundation. They have a special program that specifically assists in making a large donation. They can asist and guide you. You can donate anoymously through them and also spread your donation across multiple programs. Anon

I'm a writer coach for Writer Coach Connection. We provide one-on-one help to middle school and high school students, promoting their love of writing and improving their skills. Compared to other volunteering opportunities I find this program to be well above average in effectiveness. Principals, teachers, students, and coaches highly regard the program. I hear that the organization needs ongoing operating funds to pay for a full time program manager because of the growing number of schools requesting to implement their services. Karen

Hello, Long-Time Berkeley Resident,

It's wonderful to hear that. I know that LifeLong West Berkeley Health Center provides great pediatric care including prenatal and well-baby programs- CenteringPregnancy and CenteringParenting.

According to the City of Berkeley Health Status Report (2007), an astonishing 32% of children live in poverty. They may lack the means to pay for it while desperately in need of health care. LifeLong served 9,998 patients under the age of 18 years old last year, which accounts for 23% of the total patient population. Your support will definitely help improve the health and livelihood of children in Berkeley.

If you want to know more about LifeLong Medical Care and LifeLong West Berkeley clinic, please check LifeLong's new website: Hope it's helpful. Best wishes, C.D.

East Bay charity dedicated to children's basic needs

Dec 2004

I am looking for a local (East Bay) charity to make a donation to this year. If anyone has recommendations for charities that are dedicated to children's basic needs--food, shelter, clothes--I'd appreciate hearing about them. Thanks very much. Holly

The Midway Shelter in Alameda has had a big cutback in their funding due to ''Building Futures with Women and Children'''s cuts ( There was a 5k run last weekend to raise money, and this weekend (12/11), there will be a concert: An Evening with Natasha Miller & Friends Saturday, December 11, 2004, 7:00 p.m. A benefit for Midway Shelter. The performance will be at First Presbyterian Church; the suggested donation is $15. More than ever before, the Midway Shelter needs your support! Jennie

I'd like to repeat a prior recommendation: The Perinatal Council in Richmond. They help low-income families, including teen moms, and provide all kinds of outreach services. They run an adopt-a-family program, but will also accept any donations of new (and even gently-used) toys, household items, diapers, formula, etc. Tel: 236-6990 R.K.

I would like to recommend donating to Berkeley Youth Alternatives (BYA). Located in southwest Berkeley, they provide after-school activities for children and youth, and much more. They not only serve healthy snacks, but teach children (and parents) about nutrition. They have an organic garden where they grow produce for use and sale, and teach the older kids about the environment, gardening, and how to run a business. They also have sports and music programs, give help with homework, and supply mentors and counselors. Many at-risk children have turned their lives around through BYA. The organization has been around a long time and is run with efficiency, compassion, energy, and imagination. BUT they have been hit with big cuts and needs all the help they can get. Your money will be well spent. (Volunteers welcome too.) Contact BYA at 510-845-9010, administration at , and see the website Jeanne

Want to donate to needy children? I have seen a lot of postings about people looking to donate to children this Holiday Season. I work for the Project Pride division of East Bay Community Recovery Project. We are a treatment facility housing 40 women and their children. We need christmas decorations and especially craft supplies and art materials for the kids. They range in age up to seven years old. We would greatly appreciate new craft books, art supplies, crayons, markers, paints, glue... or gift certificates to target, walmart, etc. where I could buy these sorts of things. New toys, especially educational toys also very much desired. Thanks for your consideration. I can pick up donations or meet you at the facility.
Thank you, Jessica Bash, Project Pride jbash at