With the help of generous supporters around the community and our volunteers, Ritter Center is able to offer the following seasonal programs:
Many low-income families simply do not have the means to purchase backpacks and school supplies for their children. In July through mid-August, Ritter Center raises money to provide gift cards so families can buy the essential school supplies their children need ensuring that their kids can start the school year prepared to learn and achieve scholastically.
Ritter Center helps make it possible for low-income families in Marin County to enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner with their families. Every year, we provide over 160 families with a Thanksgiving meal kit containing a turkey, sides, and dessert – all of the ingredients for a Thanksgiving to enjoy and remember.
Our Family to Family Holiday Gift Card Program provides gift cards to Ritter Center registered families and individuals so they can fulfill their kids’ holiday wishes and buy what they need this winter.
In the past, donors would “adopt” a Ritter Center registered family, senior or individual experiencing homelessness, and purchase items from their wishlists. We also had a “Toy Store” collection in local businesses for families that were not registered clients. We would then have a big celebratory collection day. To keep you, our staff, and clients safe, and prevent the spread of COVID, we are unable to collect toys, gifts, or food from individuals for our holiday programs and will again purchase and distribute food, personal care items, and gift cards to families and individuals in need. The best way to help is to give online or send a donation via check. (Exceptions made for donations prearranged from groups/corporations/suppliers – see below)*.
In 2021, our Client Services team gave out more than $35,000 in holiday gift cards to our Family to Family program recipients.
Ritter Center and its Board of Directors hosts a Holiday dinner for our homeless clients the week before Christmas at First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. During the COVID-19 pandemic for health and safety reasons we switched to providing to-go meals. This year, our volunteer chefs prepares a a freshly cooked, to-go meal (with cookies, barley soup, and apple cider) and our team handed out care packages containing new backpacks, sleeping bags, warm clothes, hand-knitted scarves and socks, hats, toiletries, and flashlights. If you are interested in donating survival gear items for the care bags (including backpacks, flashlights, and sleeping bags) or if you would like to inquire about volunteering at the Holiday Dinner, please call Jorge Garcia at (415) 457-8182 x109.
All of our Holiday Programs are made possible thanks to our generous donors and sponsors. This year, we’d like to thank Marin County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and San Rafael Police Department – who each donated $1,000 worth of turkeys – Nugget Markets, Good Earth Natural Foods, Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, SF Marin Food Bank, Extrafood.org, Marin Sonoma Produce, Marin Sanitary Services (who have donated for over 10 years), Colette’s Skincare, Sweet E Organic Candy, and a number of local faith-based organizations including St. Anselm Church in Ross, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Belvedere, and the First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael.
*Please note, during COVID-19 we are reducing our in-person donation drop-offs and collection celebrations but still accept bulk donations and can arrange to collect larger donations. If you are interested in organization a group collection and making a bulk donation to our programs, please call 415.457.8182 ext. 109.
Photo by Margot Duane Photography.