Mercury News / Wish Book

Mercury News / Wish Book Donate to Wish Book and read stories about local groups and individuals in need at wishbook.mercurynews.com. Since 1983, the San Jose Mercury News Wish Book has been helping to make "wishes" come true at the holidays -- and beyond -- for people and organizations in need in the Silicon Valley area.

Each year, Mercury News reporters and photographers present about two dozen stories in print and online about some of our neighbors who face significant challenges. Readers have donated generously, making it possible over the years for the Wish Book to contribute nearly $8 million to helping those in need. We solicit applicants every fall for Wish Book, and publish the stories we select beginning on Thanksgiving. The Mercury News handles most administrative costs so that most of the money donated can be used to help our community. Wish Book works with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to process readers' donations, maintain the charity’s books, and provide all donors with tax receipts in a timely way, in exchange for a small portion of Wish Book proceeds.

Each year, Mercury News reporters and photographers present about two dozen stories in print and online about some of our neighbors who face significant challenges. Readers have donated generously, making it possible over the years for the Wish Book to contribute nearly $8 million to helping those in need. We solicit applicants every fall for Wish Book, and publish the stories we select beginning on Thanksgiving. The Mercury News handles most administrative costs so that most of the money donated can be used to help our community. Wish Book works with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to process readers' donations, maintain the charity’s books, and provide all donors with tax receipts in a timely way, in exchange for a small portion of Wish Book proceeds.

Mission: The mission of the San Jose Mercury News Wish Book is to shine a light on the special needs of our community and to encourage reader donations to meet those needs.

Operating as usual

Until a few months ago, San Mateo resident Robert Shibata slept every night in his 1986 Toyota Supra on the edge of a ho...
12/31/2019
Wish Book 2019: Giving warmth to the homeless

Until a few months ago, San Mateo resident Robert Shibata slept every night in his 1986 Toyota Supra on the edge of a hotel parking lot.
Most nights, Shibata parked in a quiet lot straddling Foster City and walked to the St. Vincent de Paul San Mateo Homeless Help Center to eat a hot breakfast in the morning.
He’s part of a growing charity demographic among the nonprofit’s clients who live out of their cars, often bouncing in and out of work -- a group of homeless individuals in danger of being forgotten as the winter months loom.

Donations will help St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Mateo County buy 400 camping grade sleeping bags for homeless clients.

Donations will help St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Mateo County buy 400 camping grade sleeping bags for homeless clients.

On her birthday two years ago, Susan Barajas hit rock bottom. Social workers came to her motel room and took custody of ...
12/29/2019
Wish Book 2019: Reuniting families

On her birthday two years ago, Susan Barajas hit rock bottom. Social workers came to her motel room and took custody of her five children.
More than two years later, she has regained custody of her children and lives with them in a home in the South Bay. She’s active in their lives, regularly chaperoning field trips and helping open a snack shop at their middle school.
She credits the turnaround in part to the Parent Advocate program at Alum Rock Counseling Center. The program pairs parents who have lost custody of their children with counselors who have been through the system and helps them regain custody.

Donations will help Alum Rock Counseling Center launch a Family Reunification Fund to help families heal after being torn apart by challenges such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness. Donations will also help the Barajas family start a college fund.
https://wishbook.mercurynews.com/2019/alumrock

Donations will help Alum Rock Counseling Center launch a Family Reunification Fund to help families heal after being torn apart by challenges such as substance abuse, domestic violence, and homelessness. Donations will also help the Barajas family start a college fund.

On a recent morning, a small group of Vista Center members arrived in Half Moon Bay for a tour of Sweet Farm — a three-y...
12/27/2019
Wish Book 2019: Bring adventures for the blind and visually impaired

On a recent morning, a small group of Vista Center members arrived in Half Moon Bay for a tour of Sweet Farm — a three-year-old animal sanctuary that cares for rescued farm animals, grows fruits and vegetables, and advocates a vegan lifestyle. And, they did it all with the help of Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Donations will help Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired fund its Shared Paths program, which offers outdoor activities for adults with vision loss.

Donations will help Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired fund its Shared Paths program, which offers outdoor activities for adults with vision loss.

Catalina Lynberg is one of nearly 400 adults with developmental disabilities who take part in the community employment p...
12/26/2019
Wish Book 2019: Tailoring work to employees with disabilities

Catalina Lynberg is one of nearly 400 adults with developmental disabilities who take part in the community employment program at the San Jose nonprofit Hope Services, working with job coaches to find and keep jobs around the South Bay.

Donations will help Hope Services provide job coaching services for 33 adults with developmental disabilities.

Donations will help Hope Services provide job coaching services for 33 adults with developmental disabilities.

Jeff Clayton has tried everything to fix the deficient hospital bed for his 14-year-old daughter with congenital muscula...
12/25/2019
Wish Book 2019: Father fixes everything but hospital bed for daughter with muscular dystrophy

Jeff Clayton has tried everything to fix the deficient hospital bed for his 14-year-old daughter with congenital muscular dystrophy. He’s already replaced the motor once, and while the hydraulic lift is still working, the back of the bed won’t stay up. So he has come up with a work-around — a stack of wooden blocks he shimmies in and out to raise and lower the back of the bed.

Donations will help Alannah’s family buy her a new hospital bed that can tilt, relieve pressure and keep her cool/dry.

Donations will help Alannah’s family buy her a new hospital bed that can tilt, relieve pressure and keep her cool/dry.

Five days a week at centers operated by Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, people line up to eat. For the past 40 years, th...
12/24/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help serve nutritious meals to the needy

Five days a week at centers operated by Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen, people line up to eat. For the past 40 years, the nonprofit organization has provided nutritious meals to anyone in need of one.
And, demand for the service has only increased in recent years and shows no signs of slowing.

Donations will support Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen’s Hot Nutritious Meals Program, providing 6,500 meals for children, families, veterans, seniors, disabled individuals, and the homeless in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Donations will support Loaves & Fishes Family Kitchen's Hot Nutritious Meals Program, providing 6,500 meals for children, families, veterans, seniors, disabled individuals, and the homeless in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

Few understand the aftermath of horrific incidents better than Janet Childs, a program leader of the Centre for Living a...
12/23/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help Gilroy survivors, victims and first responders receive counseling

Few understand the aftermath of horrific incidents better than Janet Childs, a program leader of the Centre for Living and Dying’s Critical Incident Stress Management team.
For the past four decades, Childs has worked behind the scenes at disasters throughout the Bay Area to help survivors, victims and first responders regain their bearings in the wake of tragedy.

Donations will support Bill Wilson Center’s Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program, which provides immediate crisis intervention and support to first responders, families and the community following incidents such as natural disasters, school shootings or other emergencies.

Donations will support Bill Wilson Center's Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program, which provides immediate crisis intervention and support to first responders, families and the community following incidents such as natural disasters, school shootings or other emergencies.

When she was 10, growing up in Soviet Ukraine with a father who worshiped Stalin more than religion, Tamara Brandman Not...
12/22/2019
Wish Book 2019: Offering peace and dignity to Holocaust survivors

When she was 10, growing up in Soviet Ukraine with a father who worshiped Stalin more than religion, Tamara Brandman Noten had no idea she was a Jew.
She didn’t understand when Jews fleeing the Nazis started arriving in her beloved Black Sea birthplace of Odessa or when her parents took her on a harrowing journey to Siberia to escape the invasion of Hitler’s Axis allies.
Only later did Noten realize that she was driven from her home and cut off from so many family members who perished — all because she was Jewish.

Donations will help Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley provide Holocaust survivors with assistance for basic necessities along with counseling, care planning and care giver support.

Donations will help Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley provide holocaust survivors with assistance for basic necessities along with counseling, care planning and care giver support.

Vianey Villegas bought her home nearly two decades ago. But her limited finances have forced her to delay costly home re...
12/21/2019
Wish Book 2019: Rebuilding homes for better lives in Silicon Valley

Vianey Villegas bought her home nearly two decades ago. But her limited finances have forced her to delay costly home repairs. For many older homeowners in the Bay Area, a fixed income means a limited budget for home repairs, no matter how urgent. That’s where Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley steps in. The San Jose-based nonprofit helps older and disabled residents fix up their homes — roofs, furnaces, water heaters, kitchen appliances and more — that have fallen into disrepair.

Donations will help Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley fix a leaky roof and other issues at Vianey Villegas’ house in South San Jose through its no-cost home repair program for low-income homeowners.

Donations will help Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley fix a leaky roof and other issues at Vianey Villegas’ house in South San Jose through its no-cost home repair program for low-income homeowners.

Yuzuki Ogawa's zeal was on full display on a recent morning when the spunky 6-year-old raced away from her dad to hug a ...
12/20/2019
Wish Book 2019: Camp relies on farm animals to serve kids with special needs

Yuzuki Ogawa's zeal was on full display on a recent morning when the spunky 6-year-old raced away from her dad to hug a neighbor’s dog from behind. The startled pup nipped Yuzuki, who has Down syndrome and at times approaches animals with overwhelming enthusiasm.
Enter Via Services, a nonprofit entering its 75th year that aims to help children and adults with disabilities become more self-sufficient and independent.

Donations will help Via Services expand the farm program at its special needs camp in Cupertino which serves children, teens and adults with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities.

Donations will help Via Services expand the farm program at its special needs camp in Cupertino which serves children, teens and adults with developmental, physical and intellectual disabilities. Goal: $20,000

With a team of about 15 instructors who include former scientists who have worked at places like Stanford and NASA, UCLA...
12/19/2019
Wish Book 2019: Inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists

With a team of about 15 instructors who include former scientists who have worked at places like Stanford and NASA, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Oracle, Hewlett Packard and Apple, Schmahl Science Workshops teaches kids, mostly in kindergarten through sixth grade, about insects, magnets, seeds, sun spots, batteries, minerals, the water cycle, plate tectonics and dozens of other topics with energetic, hands-on science programs. The organization, a non-profit group based in San Jose that teaches roughly 32,000 children a year — many of them in low-income areas.

Donations will help Schmahl Science Workshops provide hands-on science programs to 60 classrooms in Santa Clara County.

Donations will help Schmahl Science Workshops provide hands-on science programs to 60 classrooms in Santa Clara County.

The music is still playing and recording at the Seven Trees Community Center — just a little differently.  The professio...
12/15/2019
Wish Book 2019: Center aims to restore studio and teens’ music outlet

The music is still playing and recording at the Seven Trees Community Center — just a little differently. The professional-grade mixing equipment that filled a back room for at least a decade is gone. So donations are being sought to keep the music going -- especially to help the teens who rely on the studio as a refuge from lives affected by homelessness, gang violence, and other challenges.

Donations will help the Seven Trees Community Center replace music and recording equipment to rebuild the center’s youth music program that serves underprivileged teens.

Donations will help the Seven Trees Community Center replace music and recording equipment to rebuild the center's youth music program that serves underprivileged teens.

For Xavier Chavez, a 16-year-old from South San Jose, adolescence was no pleasure cruise. When he was in middle school, ...
12/13/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help teens develop confidence, leadership skills

For Xavier Chavez, a 16-year-old from South San Jose, adolescence was no pleasure cruise. When he was in middle school, he thought his voice didn’t matter. He felt constantly watched and judged by the people around him as well as a crushing sense of anxiety.
But when he started attending the Levin Clubhouse run by Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley after school during 7th grade, his life began to change -- for the better.

Donations will help Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley support its education and career development programs for low-income Santa Clara County youth ages 6-18.

Donations will help Boys and Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley support its education and career development programs for low-income Santa Clara County youth ages 6-18.

Dates, places, names — such facts are lost in the unforgiving fog of illness and age.Every day, the Hearts & Minds Activ...
12/12/2019
Wish Book 2019: Program creates bond with elderly and youth

Dates, places, names — such facts are lost in the unforgiving fog of illness and age.
Every day, the Hearts & Minds Activity Center brings together old and young people with the idea that each generation has something to offer the other. The San Jose center provides services to about 90 elders with dementia and dozens of children in its licensed daycare facility. Students from local high schools and colleges also volunteer for school credit.

Donations will help Hearts & Minds Activity Center provide more than a year of dementia-specific adult day care services for its lowest-income clients.

Donations will help Hearts & Minds Activity Center provide more than a year of dementia-specific adult day care services for its lowest-income clients.

She first noticed it when Michael was about two. It was the way he would look up at the TV.“I thought it was just too hi...
12/08/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help disadvantaged kids see better

She first noticed it when Michael was about two. It was the way he would look up at the TV.
“I thought it was just too high, because he’d watch it up on the stand with his head turned to one side,” said Ana Hernandez, a 41-year-health assistant at Ryan STEAM Academy in San Jose. “His grandma used to say, ‘little Michael needs glasses,’ and when he got his 3-year-old wellness check at pre-school, he didn’t know the letters. He kept saying, ‘I can’t see them. They’re too small.”’
Before long, though, Michael Sotelo would see the light — and the letters.
Read more of Michael's story here and how the Healther Kids Foundation helped him. Donations will help the foundation provide vision screening, glasses and replacement glasses for underserved children like Michael in Santa Clara County, and help buy a new photo optic screening system so more children can be vision screened.

Donations will help Healthier Kids Foundation provide vision screening, glasses and replacement glasses for underserved children in Santa Clara County, and help buy a new photo optic screening system so more children can be vision screened.

When Tina Urbina brought home a flyer for Latinas Contra Cancer, she and her mom decided to give it a shot.Both had been...
12/07/2019
Wish Book 2019: Making cancer survivors feel like themselves again

When Tina Urbina brought home a flyer for Latinas Contra Cancer, she and her mom decided to give it a shot.
Both had been diagnosed with cancer that required surgery in the past nine years. Lina Urbina, 72, underwent a successful mastectomy after her 2010 diagnosis. Her daughter, Tina, became stricken with cancer earlier this year and began losing her hair after chemotherapy treatment. She was heartbroken.
Then Tina, 54, stepped inside the Latinas Contra Cancer boutique for the first time and put on a wig — straight black hair, chosen specially to match her own. She felt like she’d come home. Read more about the mother and daughter duo here and how donations to Latinas Contra Cancer help provide support services and supplies such as wigs and prostheses for low-income Hispanic women diagnosed with cancer.
https://wishbook.mercurynews.com/2019/latinas

Donations will help Latinas Contra Cancer provide support services and supplies such as wigs and prostheses for low-income Hispanic women diagnosed with cancer.

Wanda Holland is no stranger to hard times. As a young adult living with her mother, Holland experienced her first, shor...
12/06/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help families down on their luck avoid homelessness

Wanda Holland is no stranger to hard times. As a young adult living with her mother, Holland experienced her first, short stint of homelessness. She vowed then that she would do everything possible to give her own children and grandchildren a life of security and comfort -- and for the most part she did.
After spending nearly 30 years working for the Veterans Affairs Health Care System and surviving a heart attack, Holland had saved up enough money to retire and work part-time as a private, in-home caretaker.
Then in June 2018, Holland’s life was turned upside down -- again.
She and her family were forced out of their apartment amid family-related problems and she found herself living out of her car. Holland was ready to give up when she found the Community Services Agency. Read more of Holland's story here. Donations will support the Community Services Agency emergency financial assistance program, which helps low-income residents with rent, utilities, healthcare needs and transportation.

Donations will support the Community Services Agency emergency financial assistance program, which helps low-income residents with rent, utilities, healthcare needs and transportation.

Brenda Hernandez Casillas weighed just one pound each when they were born. For the past three months, the tiny premature...
12/05/2019
Wish Book 2019: A lifeline for the parents of babies in intensive care

Brenda Hernandez Casillas weighed just one pound each when they were born. For the past three months, the tiny premature babies have lived in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose. Donations will help ACCESS, the Auxiliary of Good Samaritan Hospital to pay for housing for NICU parents like Casillas in a fully furnished apartment within walking distance to the hospital.

Donations will help ACCESS, the Auxiliary of Good Samaritan Hospital pay for housing for NICU parents in a fully furnished apartment within walking distance to the hospital.

For Shirin Shakeri, it was the trips to downtown San Jose’s colorful Christmas in the Park that she misses most. For cla...
12/03/2019
Wish Book 2019: Help raise money to replace broken van

For Shirin Shakeri, it was the trips to downtown San Jose’s colorful Christmas in the Park that she misses most. For classmate Joshua Quental, it was visiting the beach in Santa Cruz, where he could smell the briny ocean breeze and hear the seals bark beneath the wharf. It’s been a few years since they were able to go on those trips with their peers at Independence Network, an adult education program that provides daily living activities and community outings for students with physical and cognitive limitations. The program's wheelchair lift broke five years ago in their aging 2000 Ford van that takes the students on outings that aren’t accessible by bus. So the nonprofit Friends of Independence Network Students is trying to raise $50,000 toward the purchase of a new wheelchair-accessible van and that’s where Wish Book donations can help.

Donations will help Friends of Independence Network buy a wheelchair-accessible van for Independence Network, an educational, vocational and life skills program that serves adults with disabilities in the Santa Clara County area.

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The Mercury News Wish Book is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operated by The Mercury News. Beginning on Thanksgiving Day and continuing through December each year, The Mercury News publishes a series of Wish Book stories illustrating specific community needs and offering readers a chance to make donations. Since 1983, the Mercury News Wish Book has raised more than $10 million to help people and organizations in our community. Readers’ donations allow Wish Book to answer “wishes” for things like therapeutic equipment for children with autism, computers to help homeless people look for jobs and housing, holiday gifts for children in foster care, and so much more. The Mercury News covers all administrative costs of the Wish Book program, so 100 percent of donations go to help those in need.

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I am still very grateful 😉 I graduated sjsu this passed may and masters program is what I am up to next thank you guys to much 😉