Good News / USO San Diego

USO San Diego helped spread holiday cheer with meal distributions and toy giveaways at Camp Pendleton

Four organizations in San Diego received a major gift to help ring in the new year from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Out of 6,400 nonprofits nationwide, Scott narrowed down her beneficiaries to 384 that reflected strong leadership teams, data-proven results, and potential for great impact. Four of these were charitable organizations in San Diego, including our local branch of Goodwill. Goodwill Industries of San Diego County received $10 million from Scott, a gift that CEO and president Toni Giffin said couldn’t have come at a better time. “She’s going to help the most vulnerable populations in San Diego County,” Giffin told CBS 8.

Scott, who is also the ex-wife of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, also donated to the YWCA of San Diego County and gave $4 million to Meals on Wheels San Diego and $8 million to The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The foundation’s president and CEO, Mark Stuart, says the money will help them continue to support the community through the pandemic: “COVID-19 has put a spotlight not only on the underlying inequities in our communities, but also the organizations working to address the inequities of this crisis. We are so grateful for the gift from MacKenzie Scott and others who continue to provide hope and healing through contributions to the response fund that are so urgently needed.”

Scott’s donations are unrestricted, allowing for each organization to use the funds however they see fit.

Last week, Home Start’s holiday initiative provided toys and gifts for 793 San Diegans in need this holiday season. The gifts were mainly collected through its Holiday Toy Drive in collaboration with One Paseo, which ran for the month of December. Home Start also provided this support through a number of their other programs, including their Maternity Housing program, Adopt-a-Family, and First 5 First Steps, which offers no-cost support by a trained professional to help parents and parents-to-be navigate the ups and downs of raising children. Home Start is a nonprofit that provides services to prevent child abuse and strengthen family security. Last year, it assisted 28,000 families in the San Diego area.

On December 23, nearly 2,000 children who were registered in the San Diego Unified School District’s food distribution program received a special gift courtesy of local toy company Shore Buddies and San Diego Coastkeeper—a Shore Buddies keychain and a copy of the book Shore Buddies and the Plastic Ocean—as part of their efforts to support the community and educate children about marine life and the effects of plastic use on the environment. Come January, the two organizations will also provide classroom curricula and educational resources in a virtual presentation.

USO San Diego helped spread holiday cheer with meal distributions and toy giveaways at Camp Pendleton. The pop-up served 1,700 military children with an activity bag, stuffed animal, toy, and candy cane. This initiative was part of a larger effort to support service members and their families who are separated this year.

“Hundreds of thousands of service members will remain on duty this holiday season, unable to return home to visit their loved ones. Now more than ever, they need our help to bridge the distance to family, home, and country,” says USO West President Bob Kurkjian.

Kurkjian and the USO are always looking for donations. Other ways to show your support are through programs like the USO Wishbook, which gifts service members with a phone call home, a holiday meal, a care package, and more.

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