Readers’ Helping Hand Starts With Reach for Wallets

Times Staff Writer

Families that can’t make it in America are more than a fixture of election rhetoric. In Southern California, agencies public and private know that, day in and day out, tens of thousands of impoverished families desperately need relief.

Last year, the Los Angeles Times Holiday Campaign helped them with donations totaling almost $1.05 million. After evaluating applications from competing charities, the campaign gave grants as high as $20,000 to 73 nonprofit organizations serving low-income children and youth in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties

Now the time for giving has again arrived. With the launch this week of the fifth annual campaign, The Times again will offer a helping hand to families trying to work their way out of poverty and despair.


“By contributing,” said Times Publisher John P. Puerner, “you are helping low-income children by meeting their most basic needs: food, clothing and shelter. In addition, your donations provide early literacy and arts programs, services for developmentally delayed and disabled children and programs to prevent youth violence, teen pregnancy and drug abuse.”

The Times Holiday Campaign is administered by the McCormick Tribune Foundation, which this year will match the first $750,000 in donations at 50 cents on the dollar. The fund’s administrative costs are shouldered exclusively by the foundation and The Times, so reader donations are channeled in full to agencies that work with needy families.

In past years, the agencies have given shelter to homeless children, steered children from drugs, helped immigrant families learn English and offered guidance to children of parents in jail. They have provided musical instruments, job training and crisis counseling to young people who would otherwise have gone without.

Despite occasional blips of encouraging economic news, the need for such services is growing, say many on the front lines.

At Meet Each Need with Dignity -- a Pacoima nonprofit that provides food, clothing and medical services to the poor -- the caseload keeps increasing, said Executive Director Marianne Haver Hill. Last year, the program served an average of 38,000 people a month, an increase of more than 10% over the previous year.

“In Los Angeles ... rents have skyrocketed, so any additional income is often being gobbled up by additional rent,” Hill said. “It’s tough for a lot of people.”


MEND, which endured an Oct. 18 fire that destroyed thousands of articles of clothing destined for clients, received a Holiday Campaign grant of $15,000 for its 2004 operations.

“We have a steadfast commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged children and youth,” said Kim McCleary La France, vice president, planning and community affairs. “And The Times’ Holiday Fund is a great way for us to partner with our readers so that together we can raise money to improve the lives of our children and the well-being of our communities.

In the weeks to come, articles in The Times will showcase programs that received grants this year. The stories will give readers an idea of the good that can come from even the smallest donations.

Organizations may apply for grants through Dec. 10. Recipients for 2005 will be announced in June.



The annual Holiday Campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation. Donations (checks or money orders) supporting the Holiday Campaign to help disadvantaged children and youth should be sent to: L.A. Times Holiday Campaign, File 56986, Los Angeles, CA 90074-6986. Do not send cash.

Credit card donations can be made at: holidaycampaign.

All donations are tax-deductible. Contributions of $50 or more may be published in The Times unless a donor requests otherwise; acknowledgment cannot be guaranteed. For more information call, (800) LATIMES, Ext. 75771.