PD Editorial: Ways to make Christmas a little brighter

  • Volunteer Center of Sonoma County volunteer Donald Laird organizes Secret Santa gifts at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, December 21, 2011.

Dear Santa .<TH>.<TH>.

Actually, this letter is intended for anyone who wants to help makes this Christmas complete for needy children.

Most of us can remember something — a bicycle, a ball glove, a doll — that was a wish come true. And many of us know the satisfaction of fulfilling a child's wish.

This year, as always, local charities, clubs, businesses and individuals are collecting toys, clothing and other items to brighten the holidays for children and adults who are experiencing hard times.

If you want to participate, here are some of the opportunities in Sonoma County:

; Sonoma Raceway: Today is the deadline to drop off new, unwrapped gifts and toys to be distributed at the raceway's annual Christmas Party on Dec. 15. Drop-off locations include the raceway, the Sonoma and Schell-Vista fire departments and the Index-Tribune and Sun newspapers.

; Secret Santa: The trademark red ornaments listing the needs of children, teen, adults and seniors are available at stores and other businesses throughout Sonoma County. Last year, this program, sponsored by the Volunteer Center, KZST radio and Friedman's Home Improvement, provided gifts for more than 14,000 people. See volunteernow.org for locations and other information.

; Toys for Kids: Santa Rosa Firefighters Local 1401 collects toys that get distributed to needy children through schools, shelters and social service programs. You can drop off new, unwrapped toys at Santa Rosa fire stations or, through Dec. 22, at the Santa Rosa Plaza shopping center. Cash donations will be used to purchase toys at a discount from local stores.

; Christmas Cheer: Since 1957, Christmas Cheer has distributed toys and food to needy families in and around Petaluma. You can drop off toys or nonperishable food from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays at 1372 N. McDowell Blvd., across from the Kohl's shopping center.

; Toys for Tots: Sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, this program collects toys at 160 locations throughout the county. For a list of drop-off sites, to make a contribution or to request help, go to santa-rosa-ca.toysfortots.org.

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