Local nonprofit needs donations to fill Christmas baskets

Grassroots II, a nonprofit organization that’s been serving local families in need for more than four decades, is making a last-minute plea for toys and donations of breakfast items for Christmas baskets.

The organization has already distributed about 60 baskets, and expects to serve an additional 60 needy families through Christmas Eve. That could be a stretch, though, because it only has enough items on hand for about 30 clients.

To avoid turning families away, the organization is asking for donations of new and gently used toys, particularly items that might interest children 12 and older, such as balls and other athletic equipment and challenging board games. Lego sets and arts and crafts projects for children of all ages also are needed, said Peggy Fowler, Grassroots II executive director, as are holiday decorations, ribbon and wrapping paper.

For the Christmas holidays, the organization has set up temporary shop on Higuera Street, at the former location of Really Right Stuff, where unwrapped toys are set out on display so that parents can choose gifts for their children.

Every family also is provided with breakfast ingredients — bacon and eggs, pancake mix, butter, syrup and juice — as well as fixings for a turkey dinner.

Grassroots’ clients include families that may not qualify for other aid, often because they’re barely over an income limit or because they recently lost a job and didn’t have time to apply for other holiday programs.

Grassroots II, which was founded by Maxine Lewis during the War on Poverty era, operates throughout the year by providing emergency food, clothing, household goods and information and referral services.

It’s perhaps best known, though, for an annual Thanksgiving dinner. This year, the organization served around 2,000 dinners — a record number — including 600 meals at the Grange Hall and an additional 1,400 that were home-delivered to seniors and disabled people who would otherwise have had no holiday meal.

How to help

Toys and breakfast items can be dropped off at 205 Higuera St. between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily through Christmas Eve. Grassroots II also is seeking cash donations that will be used to purchase groceries. Donations can be delivered to the Higuera Street address or mailed to P.O. Box 426, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.