Holiday food drive goes online for help 

Agency hopes high-tech aid will let them top 2005 total

SAN CARLOS — Second Harvest Food Bank is turning to the World Wide Web this holiday season, encouraging donors to show their support through their Internet connections as well as the collection bins.

The nonprofit agency serving mainly low-income families and seniors in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties kicked off its holiday food drive on Monday, hoping to raise at least $4 million and 1.8 million poundsof food by the beginning of January.

Continuing a 16-year tradition of securing big-name corporate sponsors of the holiday drive, Second Harvest joins Santa Clara-based NVIDIA Corp. for this year’s effort.

The agency raised $12.8 million last year, and hopes to top that this year with $13.2 million — $4 million of which is expected to come from the holiday drive.

"People enjoy the tangible, tactile experience of putting food in the bin at the grocery store," Second Harvest spokeswoman Beth DeWolf said. "But we want people to know they can also give easily at home."

DeWolf said that while cans of non-perishable food are standard fare for food banks, Second Harvest prefers monetary donations that can be used to buy wholesale items to stretch each dollar — a box of peanut butter versus two cans, for example.

Roughly half a million dollars came in via online donations last year, DeWolf said. The agency felt that this year, being partners with a high-tech company, they would tweak their strategy to possibly reach more donors during the busy holiday season.

San Mateo High School students are among the biggest fundraisers for the food bank, bringing in record-setting donations each year. Last year, the group collected nearly 374,000 pounds of food and $80,000, teacher Sara Catalli said. As always, she said many students are eager to uphold the school’s reputation as a top collector.

Monday also marked the first day for Chip Huggins, the agency’s new CEO. Huggins has been involved in both the public and private sectors for more than 20 years, serving as CEO of the San Francisco Chocolate Factory and board member for the Peninsula Community Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Coyote Point Museum and Easter Seals Society.

Visit www.2ndharvest.net to participate in the virtual food drive.

tramroop@examiner.com

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