It’s hard to believe that 2022 is almost here. We are all getting back into the groove of “normal” life, but some are still struggling in many ways. So, I prepared this list of California charities making a difference across our state. Every organization listed received a 4 STAR rating from Charity Navigator. I listed them from Southern California to Northern California. Find one close to your area or close to your heart and donate your time or resources. In doing so, you give a neighbor in need the healing gift of hope.
16 California Charities Making a Difference
1. FAM Family Assistance Ministries
Family Assistance Ministries assists those in need by providing both short-term and long-term assistance. First by providing for immediate needs like food and housing, then working on long-term solutions on the way to self sufficiency. Whether an individual needs medical attention, financial counsel, transportation or help filing tax returns, FAM is ready to help. Located in San Clemente, California.
2. Orangewood Foundation
This charity makes a difference in the lives of foster children, victims of sex trafficking and students with special needs. The Orangewood Foundation helps to prepare the youth in Orange County to meet the challenges of life. Their services include everything from meeting immediate nutritional and housing needs to health education and life skills. Located in Santa Ana, California.
3. Second Harvest Orange County
When my friend Mike introduced me to second harvest food bank, his enthusiasm was irresistible. What better way to serve your fellow man than to help feed 500,000 hungry people every month? In order to serve so many, Second Harvest works with different partner agencies. They deliver groceries to the elderly community, provide meals for kids through their mobile school pantry and distribute fresh food to families that are food insecure. They fight hunger in the hope that the whole community can thrive. Sign me up! Located in Irvine, California.
4. A Place Called Home
A Place Called Home helps the youth of LA by providing art, wellness and education programs for a brighter future. APCH puts the focus on LA’s youth and creating a safe space to grow. Located in Los Angeles, California,.
Their goals for each member:
- Stay in and graduate from high school
- Learn communication skills to increase positive interaction between with teachers, friends and family
- Avoid gang activity
- Take responsibility for their lives and enrich their communities
By providing a safe space to hang out, emotional support and leadership, these young people can grow into tomorrow’s leaders.
5. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission
The Coachella Valley Rescue Mission strives to serve those in need with love, dignity and respect. This starts with basic needs like nutrition, shelter and medical care. Every month, CVRM provides more than 30,000 meals and shelters more than 300 people, Then, they help ensure a better tomorrow through counseling, vocational training and education. For those struggling with addiction, CVRM offers a residential recovery program. Located in Indio, California.
6. Operation Gratitude
Operation Gratitude serves the military, military families, veterans and first responders by helping communities express gratitude for their bravery and service. By sending care packages to active military, veterans and first responders, they aim to send a message of appreciation. In addition, Operation Gratitude understands that the families of our deployed troops need support too. They send adorable “Batallion Buddies” to the children in military families missing their deployed mom or dad. Located in Chatsworth, California.
7. FOOD Share
FOOD Share fights hunger. They start by collecting nutritious food from the agriculture community, government programs and food drives. Next, volunteers help process, sort and distribute the food items in the warehouse. Then, Pantry Coordinators visit the warehouses and take what they need for their assigned area. Finally, the food is given to hungry families. FOOD Share provides more than 20 million meals annually. Located in Ventura, California.
8. Rescue Mission Alliance
The Rescue Mission Alliance provides rescue, recovery and rehabilitation for the mind, spirit and body. They address addiction issues, house the homeless and distribute food to the hungry. In addition, they offer education and vocational training to help become more self sufficient. There are 5 components of the RMA:
- Ventura County Rescue Mission
- Central Coast Rescue Mission
- San Fernando Rescue Mission
- Victor Valley Rescue Mission
- Valley Foodbank
Located in Oxnard, California.
9. Visalia Rescue Mission
Visalia Rescue Mission provides hot food and shelter the poor and needy in Central California. With a growing homeless population, including Veterans, elderly and children, the need is greater than ever. VRM not only meets the basic needs of those they serve. Through their Life Changing Academy, they offer counseling, vocational training and classes to help them realize a better future. Located in Visalia, California.
10. Second Harvest Santa Cruz
In Santa Cruz County, 1 in 5 people face hunger every day. So, Second Harvest Santa Cruz has quite a lot of food to provide. But, they offer more than food. They offer hope. With a full stomach and access to nutrition education, hunger can become a thing of the past. This California charity feeds 55,000 members of their community every month. Located in Santa Cruz, California.
11. Marthas Kitchen
When Louise Benson started a small soup kitchen to fight hunger in her community, she never dreamed it would become so important to so many. Today, Louise’s charity, Martha’s Kitchen, provides 100,000 hot meals every month. Since Martha’s Kitchen works with other agencies non-profits, the food insecure of Santa Clara county are nourished and better able to live up to their potential. Located in San Jose, California.
The mission: to “feed the hungry with dignity, no questions asked, no judgment made.”Martha’s Kitchen
12. Family Giving Tree Milpitas
It’s hard to believe that even in the luxury of the Bay area, poverty affects the community. In fact, 1 of every 4 children suffers from hunger. Plus, we all know that living in need takes a tremendous toll, not only physically, but psychologically.
In order to meet this tremendous need, Family Giving Tree conducts their annual Holiday Wish Drive. Since 1990, Family Giving Tree has donated more than 1.4 million presents to make spread the holiday season to the underprivileged. This results in reignited hope for the future. Located in Milpitas, California.
13. Bay Area Rescue Mission
When the Bay Area Rescue Mission steps in to make a difference to those in need, they begin by addressing the most basic needs. They provide hot meals and safe shelter. Then, they step up to offer life-changing programs like:
- Alcohol and Drug Recovery
- Job/Vocational Training and Placement
- Life-Skills and Financial Classes
As a result, participants are able to overcome their struggles and focus on an independent future. Located in Richmond, California.
14. Larkin Street Youth Services
Larkin Street Youth Services offers hope and shelter to homeless youth in the San Francisco area. Initially, they cover issues related to homelessness and hunger in an atmosphere of love and hope. Then, they provide training, career counseling and behavioral health tools to increase the likelihood of a better future long-term. Larkin Street’s goal is that every participant is able to permanently leave street life behind. Located in San Francisco, California.
15. Shepherds Gate Livermore
Shepherd’s Gate specializes in helping women and their children break free from harmful situations to find hope and healing. They do this by dealing with issues of domestic violence, homelessness and addiction first by providing safe shelter. Then they look to long-term healing by offering resources like counseling, life-skills classes, vocational training, parenting classes and 12 step programs. Since they opened their doors in 1948, they’ve helped over 13,000 women move on to better lives. Located in Livermore, California.
16. St. Mary’s Center
St. Mary’s Center was created in order to serve the senior and preschool population of Oakland. For homeless seniors, they offer transitional housing, counseling and money-management classes to help secure long-term housing. Families with Preschoolers are offered full day preschool classes, which helps prepare young minds for school and brings a life-long love of learning. Finally, they address concerns of hunger and chronic poverty by reaching out to the community and providing basic needs. Located in Oakland, California.
I’ll sum it up with a plea to step up with love and concern for those in need. These California charities are making a difference across the Golden State. So, find an organization that speaks to you and help them brighten the future of the downtrodden. If you work with a great charity not mentioned here, please let me know in the comments!