Community Corner

These 10 Charities Will Benefit Californians In 2021

It's been a tough year for many in the Golden State. Want to plan an end-of-year gift? Consider these 10 charities serving Californians.

Many nonprofits have faced financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Many nonprofits have faced financial crisis amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Shutterstock)

CALIFORNIA — A lot of us are struggling financially in California. But if you can afford to spare a little extra cash for those in need, many nonprofits across the state and nation say they've never needed your help more.

If you're planning a year-end gift but could use some inspiration, here are eight California charities that you might consider.

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross is a household name for good reason. It supports disaster victims, feeds hungry bellies, facilitates blood donations, installs smoke alarms, and provides education on CPR, first aid, caregiving and more.

Donate here. If you'd like to keep donations in your backyard, go to the "I Want to Support" drop-down menu and select "Your Local Red Cross."

United Ways Of California

United Way has served Californians since 2008 and operates 29 branches. The organization works with nonprofit partners that seek to improve the health, education and financial stability of Californians in need.

Find a United Way near you or donate to the United Ways of California COVID-19 fund.

Feeding America

Fifty million Americans are going hungry after an unprecedented year marked by historic unemployment levels. California saw an all-time unemployment rate high of 16.4 percent this spring. Four in 10 food pantry visitors during the first four months of the pandemic were first-timers, according to Feeding America.

Every dollar you contribute to Patch's food drive with Feeding America will cover the cost of 10 meals. All proceeds go to Feeding America.

Want to keep your donations local? Track down your nearest food bank here.

Schools On Wheels

Schools on Wheels works with homeless students across 2,500 square miles of Southern California to provide one-on-one tutoring, backpacks with school supplies, scholarships, help entering school and a Skid Row learning center. Volunteers work with 400 sites to help K-12 students living across Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Donate here.

Family Giving Tree

One in four kids in the San Francisco Bay Area live below the poverty line, and by third grade, students are an average of two years behind peers in reading and math, according to Family Giving Tree.

Family Giving Tree steps in to provide backpacks stuffed with critical and age-appropriate school supplies to needy K-12 students. The organization gave away nearly 42,000 backpacks in 2019 through 257 schools and agencies.

A $35 donation buys a student a backpack. Donate here.

California Fire Foundation

When wildfire strikes California communities, the California Fire Foundation works with firefighters on the ground to distribute gift cards to help wildfire victims in shelters buy groceries and other essential items. Donate to the foundation's fire victims fund here.

The foundation also provides grants to mitigate wildfire risk and help prospective firefighters who can't afford to take necessary exams. CFF seeks to honor fallen firefighters by providing emotional and financial support to their families. General donations to foundation can be made here.

Mount Tamalpais College

Formerly known as the Prison University Project, Mount Tamalpais College has served San Quentin State Prison inmates for 20 years, seeking to "expand access to quality higher education for incarcerated people; and to foster the values of equity, civic engagement, independence of thought, and freedom of expression," according to the college.

Donations help support free tuition for 500 students each year at the only on-site degree-granting program in a California prison, according to the organization. Americans behind bars have been banned from receiving Pell Grants since 1994, making it difficult for higher education programs to serve the incarcerated population.

Donate here.

California State Parks

California State Parks oversees 280 parks, 4,500 miles of trails across the state, 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, and 15,000 campsites, which are visited by 75 million people each year.

State Parks partners with 80 local organizations that give back to parks, from the deserts of Southern California to Big Sur and the towering redwoods of Humboldt County. Find out how to donate to the organization nearest to you here.

Not sure where to start? Consider donating to charities that serve Big Basin Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County, home to ancient redwoods that inspired the founding of California's first state park. Lightning-sparked wildfires tore through the park over the summer, devastating some of its landmarks.


Sacramento-based nonprofit RedRover seeks to prevent animal cruelty and educate youth on the human-animal bond, according to its website.

"The mission of RedRover is to bring animals out of crisis and strengthen the bond between people and animals through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education."

Donate here.

California Farmworkers Foundation

California Farmworkers Foundation has served 35,000 in 2016, according to its website. It provides services such as education, health and wellness workshops, immigration and citizenship services and professional development to farmworkers who put food on the tables of those in California, the United States and beyond.

Donate here.

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