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In search of a warm coat for Christmas

on December 12, 2009

With only two days to go, Richmond District Supervisors’ offices are only halfway toward meeting their goal of more than 300 new toys and 100 new coats for the students of Verde Elementary. The tough economy, plus a plethora of many other worthy causes, are the reasons that donations are lower this year, said District Supervisor John Gioia. The items most in need are children’s winter coats, sizes 6-16.

It is the 12th year that North Richmond’s Verde Elementary has been the recipient of this drive. District Supervisor chief of staff Luz Gomez is coordinating the effort. She said the school was chosen because of its location in an unincorporated part of Richmond, which means it often falls below the county’s radar.

While the school’s API score has been rising, Gomez said, the neighborhood remains one of the city’s poorest: All 326 students are on free or reduced lunches. According to the school’s 2008 Accountability Report Card, 65 percent of the children are English learners and 100 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged.

The drive ends Monday. Santa Claus will visit the school and give out the toys at a holiday assembly on Friday. The coats are given out in a more discreet way. Teachers identify those who are most in need, Gomez said, and then the kids are surprised with the coat privately.

Gioia is urging people to continue to give, despite the hard times.

“For many, your generosity will provide the only gifts under the tree this year,” he writes through his electronic mailing list.

All donations may be dropped off at the District Supervisor’s office located at 11780 San Pablo Avenue, Suite D, El Cerrito, CA  94530. For any questions, call 510-374-3231.

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