There is so much to be thankful for this year, but many are still facing the adversities that 2020 has brought us, which is why our work to build a brighter future in Santa Monica is not over. Give and spread thanks this year by looking into local volunteer options and show those experiencing hardship what the power of our community looks like.


Three years ago, Santa Monica College Foundation President, Lizzy Moore wanted to give back to her community of students by hosting a Giving Thanks(giving) “as an outreach to Santa Monica College students who are homeless or foster youth, or international students that didn’t have anywhere to go.” She hosted anywhere from 60 to 100 students at her home for a hot Thanksgiving meal, but for 2020 she wanted to make it even grander.

This year, Santa Monica College Foundation and SMC are partnering with the City of Santa Monica to raise $50,000 to provide free Thanksgiving groceries to food-insecure students and families. The event will take place from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Tuesday, November 24 on SMC’s main campus, where families who have pre-registered can pick up a bag of groceries to concoct their very own Thanksgiving meal. This year, at least 1,435 families will not go hungry on Thanksgiving because of the support from SMC, the SMC Foundation, the City of Santa Monica through its “We Are Santa Monica” Fund, the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, Kiwanis Club of Santa Monica, the Community Corporation of Santa Monica, Suja Juice, Jacmar Food Service Distribution, Danone Foods, GoGo Squeez, Associated Students of Santa Monica College, Costco Culver City, Everytable, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism, The Butter End Cakery, Verizon, Vicente Foods, Vintage Grocers, Westside Food Bank, and Whole Foods Market.

“This holiday season, we have an opportunity to lift up local families in need and remember the joy that generosity and gratitude bring,” said Santa Monica’s Interim City Manager Lane Dilg. “Santa Monica thrives when we help each other. This is one of many chances to give in a year when we must, more than ever before, come together as a community.”

Registered families will drive up to the pantry and be greeted with volunteers handing out fresh, pressed juice from Suja Juice in the morning and Krispy Kreme Donuts in the afternoon. In an effort to be as generous as they could, each family will go home with a Turkey, fresh produce, a carton of milk donated by Danone Foods, a whole pumpkin pie and non-alcoholic beverages to create an entire feast.

Moore said they are trying to be sensitive to people’s needs by providing food for those with dietary restrictions. Families had the choice of a Kosher Turkey or a vegetarian option consisting of a faux-turkey stuffed with cranberries and wild-rice. For those that are new to cooking, food anthropologist and chef Casey Corn has created five two-minute cooking videos demonstrating how to cook the perfect feast for your family and friends using the same ingredients as those being handed out.

You can help feed 1,435 families, students, and individuals and achieve the goal of raising $50,000 by donating at

Virginia Avenue Park Holiday Food Pantry

Our community understands the importance of a hot meal, which is why the City of Santa Monica created an emergency food pantry at Virginia Avenue Park (VAP) in the Thelma Terry Center to combat food insecurity. The pantry assists between 150-200 households each week, with the help of Westside Food Bank, by providing free pre-assembled food boxes, including fresh produce, dry and canned goods and dairy products for all City residents in need of food.

In addition to the partnership with SMC Foundation, the City of Santa Monica’s We Are Santa Monica Fund, which provides local relief in response to the coronavirus, are asking for help to raise funds to provide nutritious food to Santa Monica families experiencing food insecurity. A $30-tax deductible donation can feed a family of four for one holiday, and a $100-tax deductible donation can feed a family-of-four for the entire month of December. The hope is to raise $30,000 to support families with fresh, nutritious food through the holiday season.

The VAP Food Pantry has been able to operate with a steady roster of amazing local volunteers and are encouraging those who want to give back to donate to this fundraiser. Officials said the best way to assist is to donate directly to the VAP Food Pantry through the We Are Fund at and select “Holiday Food Pantry.”.

Blanket Drive with Perry’s Café – October 25 – December 31, 2020

“Brrr! Donate A Blanket Now,” As winter approaches, Santa MoniCARES is partnering with Perry’s Cafe to collect new and used blankets for Santa Monica homeless individuals and families now through December 31. Blankets can be dropped off at four locations:

Perry’s Café at 2400 Ocean Front Walk (at the end of Hollister).

Main Visitor Information Center at 2427 Main Street.

Visitor Information Kiosk at 1400 Ocean Avenue.

Santa Monica Pier Shop & Visitor Center.

Curbside service is available for blankets drop offs, text 15 minutes ahead of arrival time to 424-443-8830 and a staff member will pick up the donation curbside at 2427 Main Street.

Gently Used Clothing Drive – November 1 – December 31, 2020

“Gently Loved Business Clothing Drive,” Santa MoniCARES needs gently loved business attire now through December 31. Santa MoniCARES, in partnership with the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, is collecting new or gently loved business clothing to benefit Chrysalis. Help someone build their confidence going into a job interview with a new set of clothes.

Curbside service is available for clothing drop offs, text 15 minutes ahead of arrival time to 424-443-8830 and a staff member will pick up the donation curbside at 2427 Main Street.

The Giving Tree With Loews Hotel

“The Giving Tree With Loews Hotel,” Santa MoniCARES is delighted to partner with Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel for their “Giving Tree” program beginning November 25. The Giving Tree is an opportunity for businesses and residents to sponsor a personalized holiday tree to share their brand, a message of hope, a dedication or for just plain fun, and to be displayed in the Loews Hotel lobby. Each decorated tree will be showcased in Loew’s “A Miracle on Ocean Avenue” holiday light and decor display. The best Giving Tree winner will receive $1,000 to donate to a local participating nonprofit. For more on the Giving Tree, email or

Santa Monica Place

Santa Monica Place has partnered with the Westside Food Bank to collect donations in support of a goal to provide 20,000 meals to the local community. From now until November 30, Santa Monica Place will match any donation made to the Westside Food Bank, until their $5,000 goal is met. More info:

Volunteer work

If donating isn’t in the budget this year, simply donate your time! There are numerous charitable organizations looking for eager volunteers to assist them in giving back. Everyone has a cause that is close to their heart and volunteering with an organization that you feel connected to and passionate about can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. These are just a few local organizations looking for your help:

St. Joseph Center’s mission is to provide working poor families, as well as homeless men, women, and children of all ages with the inner resources and tools to become productive, stable and self-supporting members of the community. They are in need of volunteer grocery delivery drivers. Contact their volunteer relations manager, Shelly Aydin, at 310-396-6468 x326 | c: 310-367-0058, or visit

Meals on Wheels West needs volunteers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am-2pm to help with meal delivery to homebound community members. Their mission is to provide seniors with the nutrition they need and the human contact they desire. Contact: Meal Delivery Volunteer Coordinator at or (310) 394-5133 x2.

Salvation Army Rehab on 11th and Olympic needs Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or other inspirational speakers to provide counseling sessions via zoom or in person. Registered Nursing volunteers are needed to provide TB testing on site. Other volunteers are needed to help with separating donations in the warehouse. Contact to volunteer.

If you are looking for even more ways to give back this season, go to

Shop Local

The simplest way to give back to your community this year is to simply look local for all your holiday shopping! Did you know that for every dollar you spend in Santa Monica, 68-cents stays in our community? Keeping this money local helps towards the improvement of our local parks, schools, local libraries and more. That means that by purchasing that adorable sweater on Ocean Park Blvd. you are supporting Santa Monica Public Libraries, or grabbing a cup of Coffee on Main St. can help improve public parks. Even grabbing a gift-certificate on Montana Ave. or partaking in a fitness class on Pico Blvd. can assist our community on its journey towards economic recovery.


City of Santa Monica
Santa Monica College
Community Corporation of Santa Monica
Boys and Girls Club Santa Monica

Santa Monica College Foundation
Associated Students
Costco Culver City
Danone Foods
GoGo Squeez
Jacmar Foodservice Distribution
Kiwanis Santa Monica
Santa Monica Travel & Tourism
Suja Juice
The Butter End Cakery
Vicente Foods
Vintage Grocers
Westside Food Bank
Whole Foods Market