By Lookout Staff
December 20, 2013 -- The Westside Family Health Center is once again bringing home the gift of giving this Holiday Season with its annual Heart2Heart food and clothing drive.
What began as a way to help victims of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast in 2005 has transformed into an annual drive to help local organizations.
This Holiday Season, the effort, which is in full swing, will help two “worthy community partners in need of food and clothing donations for their clients” -- St. Joseph Center Food Pantry and Safe Place for Youth (S.P.Y).
WFHC already has collected and distributed more than 350 pounds of food and 44 bags of clothes to the two organizations since the drive began in late November.
“The clothing donation could not have come at a better time,” said Alison Hurst, executive director and founder of S.P.Y. “Last night our young people arrived wet and tired but left warm and dry in their new clothing. Thank you so much for choosing to support S.P.Y.”
Safe Place for Youth -- which helps homeless youth -- is in need of clothing items, especially adult-size new or “gently used” jackets, jeans, t-shirts and sweatshirts, as well as new socks and underwear.
There is greater demand than ever for help during the holidays, said Va Lecia Adams Kellum, executive director of St. Joseph Center.
“We set a record at Thanksgiving by distributing nearly 800 turkeys, and more people are signed up for our Adopt-A-Family effort than in any past year,” she said. “The Westside Family Health Center’s Heart2Heart Campaign is helping us meet this incredible demand.”
St. Joseph Center -- which helps the poor of all ages -- is looking for food items, including juice, canned meats and soups, canned fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, pasta, beans and rice.
In past years donations have included books, office supplies and toiletries, according to WFHC officials.
“To quote a well-used phrase: 'Heart2Heart is a gift that just keeps giving,' ” said Debra A. Farmer, WFHC's president and CEO.
The drive runs until January 20. Donations can be brought to Westside Family Health Center’s main waiting room at 1705 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica during normal business hours.