More volunteers needed for 'Silicon Valley Strong' community support programs, officials say

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The holiday season is typically filled with volunteerism, but many people are staying home because of the pandemic winter in 2020.

However, there are still a number of ways for you to safely give your time to nonprofit organizations that could really use your help during these challenging times.

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo is making a push for people to sign up as volunteers through Silicon Valley Strong.

"This is a time for us to step up, to be able to offer our energy, our time, and our resources," Liccardo says.

The nonprofit support project is a regional effort aimed at assisting some of the most vulnerable members in the South Bay community.

Local city leaders say more volunteers are needed to help with food distribution.

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Second Harvest of Silicon Valley now serves half million people in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties each month.

Leslie Bacho, who serves as Second Harvest's chief executive officer, says additional help couldn't come at a better time.

"This is going to be a long road to recovery for so many low-wage workers, for so many low-income families and individuals in our community," says Bacho.

Second Harvest is now working with 300 partner organizations to operate 130 drive-thru food distribution sites, which are mainly staffed by volunteers.

RELATED: Looking for a Bay Area food pantry? See our interactive map

"We're really doing all we can to make it a safe experience and we're so grateful to those folks who do show up to volunteer because we literally cannot do this work without them," Bacho explains.

Food bank officials say they'll need 5,200 volunteers to distribute groceries in January, but are nowhere close to filling all of those spots.

Kyra Kazantzis, chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits, has been challenged leading the volunteer coordinating efforts for Silicon Valley Strong.

"With the kind of need that we're seeing in food, if volunteers aren't showing up, we're simply not going to be able to get the food out," Kazantzis says.

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Officials say the demand for food assistance at Second Harvest is now double what it was prior to the pandemic, a number which illustrates the urgent need for support.

"Take advantage of this opportunity to be able to tell future generations where we all were at a time of such great need," Liccardo says. "So that when we're accounting for ourselves, and for our moment in history, we can all say that we're a part of the solution."

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