In a time when families are feeling the economic slump the worst — around the holidays — at least one company is looking to help those in need.
Surtec, a local chemical manufacturing company, will host its annual adopt-a-family food and toy giveaway. The company will expand its popular charity events for the holiday season by providing low-income families with children food and toys not only for Christmas, but for Thanksgiving as well.
Families in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties are screened by the Boys & Girls Club, Delta College, Cal Works, local churches and other agencies. The ones deemed most in need will receive a box of food and a $25 gift certificate to buy the Thanksgiving meat of their choice at a grocery store.
For Christmas, each family receives four boxes of food, a gift for each child and a $20 grocery gift certificate.
The average cost of providing each family with Christmas is $200. The entire giveaway for Christmas costs $60,000 and provides food and gifts to 320 families with 935 children.
"This is the owner’s way to give back to the community," said Cheryl Sanders of Surtec.
Bill Fields, the owner of Surtec, founded the giveaway in 1991 to provide a happier Christmas to children of needy families in the Bay Area.
He was not available for comment.
"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child," is Fields’ favorite quote, according to a company newsletter about the giveaway.
It all began with 32 families that included 114 children, and the event more than doubled the next year. The charity continued to grow, year after year providing larger amounts of food and gifts to more families throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. When Surtec relocated from Hayward to Tracy in January 2003, the program was expanded to include families in San Joaquin County.
A group of 300 volunteers minister the project, and funding comes from the company’s annual golf tournament and donations from individuals and companies ranging from $5 to $2,000.
"Some of these families don’t have anything," Sanders said. "Some of them don’t even have a Christmas tree, and sometimes a volunteer will go out and get them one. It’s really a great event and is my favorite thing to do here."