Sunnyvale Community Services (SCS) has served the City of Sunnyvale for 50 years, but this may be its most challenging year to date.
“This is the hardest time. I’ve been here for 10 years now, going on 11 years, and so I saw what was happening here in Sunnyvale and at SCS during the last recession and this is by far more difficult,” said Marie Bernard, the Executive Director of SCS. “It’s global. People lost their jobs almost overnight, back in March…They don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. That’s probably the hardest thing for us right now.”
During this holiday season, SCS expects to help 2,500 local families, totaling 4,500 people. It started on Dec. 2, with the first of three holiday distribution days for families. Over the next few weeks, SCS will be providing much-needed food and supplies as well as a little something extra during these difficult times.
“This time, the families are getting a gift card. They’ll be able to take what they need and what they want for their children and their families,” said Bernard.
“What they need because toys, hopefully, but not just toys,” said Hiroko Odaka, SCS Director of Operations. “[The gift card] could be [used for] gas, food or prescriptions; they may need the money for that.”
While SCS is doing what it can to support the thousands of families that it serves, the Sunnyvale community is doing what it can to support SCS.
“My husband and I like to come help just to understand what’s going on in the valley and how people are struggling, but it’s nice to be able to do something to help them,” said Diane, a volunteer for the past five years.
“Working at a nonprofit like this, it just changes your whole prerogative on everything,” said Manny Natareno.
And the people who can’t be there in person are finding other ways to donate.
“We’ve been fortunate,” said Bernard. “We had to raise $2 million more just for covered relief in the past several months, above and beyond our normal operating budget, and the community has come forth
“We had dozens of individuals in the community who sent us their stimulus checks. They just sent the whole thing to us and said, ‘I don’t need this, I want this to go to a family in need, who’s not going to get one of these.’” continued Bernard. “I have seen that a number of individual donors…are telling us that instead of trying to make their Donor Advised Fund last 20 years of giving, they’re saying, ‘This is obviously the rainy day.’ So, they’re writing bigger checks.”
That money is has helped SCS keep up with the need to date and guaranteed that no one is turned away hungry.
“As long as they raise their hand and then we will give them the food that we can provide,” said Odaka.