East Bay charity recovers from string of robberies

December 25, 2009 7:16:54 PM PST
Bay Area charitable groups that provide gifts and meals to the needy on Christmas Day had a tough time of it this year. Because of the economy, donations are down and, in at least one case, what was donated was stolen.

For many this Christmas, the best gift is the one that costs the least.

At Concord's New Hope International Church, the mood was festive, even as the line of families stretched across the parking lot, many with young children and all of them looking for a little help this holiday.

"I live under a bridge," said Little Deer from Concord.

"We get a present, we get to eat and spend more time together," said Pablo Fragoso from Concord.

Volunteers offered a hot meal, gently used clothing and a single gift to each visitor.

A few days ago, it appeared this might not be possible, after a series of burglaries severely depleted the supply of gifts. That is, until the community and local companies stepped up with last-minute donations.

"This community really came through, it's looking really good. We're going to be able to take care of everybody," said Mary Perez from Christmas for Everyone.

In Richmond, the family that puts on this event every year prepared enough food for 400 people. It ran out in about an hour.

The turkey ran out early, but not the good will at the Nevins Community Center.

"Christmas in Richmond" is an annual event started by Edna Campbell and her grown daughter Burgundie.

"This is the way my family and I celebrate Christmas. We don't do the traditional Christmas, this is our Christmas," said Campbell.

It's an effort that's most appreciated.

"I thought it was wonderful. They really helped the community out and we really needed it this Christmas," said Danazia Douglas from Richmond.


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