HOLIDAY HELPING: Food Drive and Warm Pets

Mail Services personnel, kneeling in front of lots and lots of donated food.
Mail Services personnel with last year’s collection. Pictured, from left: Back row — Tracy Miranda. Middle row — Art Johnson, Phill Lacey, Pete Chacon and Greg Olsen. Front row — Loren Jenkins and Charlie Johnsen.

UC Davis staff and retirees are running two holiday collections again, taking each drive into milestone territory: 15 years of gathering donations for local food banks, and 25 years of gathering food, treats and coats for pets belonging to homeless people.

Holiday Food Drive

Mail Services has collected nearly 14.5 tons of food since starting this effort in 2005. Donating could not be easier: Simply leave donations with outgoing mail, and Mail Services personnel will gather the food as they make their rounds. Davis campus donations go to the Yolo Food Bank and Sacramento campus donations go to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. This year’s drive runs through this Friday (Nov. 22).

Suggested donations:

  • Canned meat, fish and soups
  • Canned ready-to-eat meals
  • Canned vegetables and tomato products
  • Peanut butter (plastic container)
  • Iron-rich cereal (45 percent or more of daily value)
  • Fruit juice (100 percent in 48-ounce-or-less plastic bottles)
  • Canned fruit (in juice)
  • Dry beans (any type)
  • Enriched rice or pasta
  • Powdered milk
  • Ramen
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Powdered milk formula
  • Similac baby food

Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets and Winter Coats

Video is from distribution day in 2018: 130 Holiday Pet Baskets and 250 coats and 250 sweaters.

The holiday baskets and winter coats and sweaters are for dogs and cats that receive care at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless in Sacramento.

The monthly clinic is an all-volunteer effort of UC Davis veterinary students and preveterinary undergraduates as well as veterinarians. The clinic is located on the grounds of Loaves & Fishes, which provides food and shelter and other services to homeless people.


In 1995, staff members of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital started assembling pet baskets for the homeless people’s pets. Most of the original volunteers are still at it — even those who have retired — and newer staff members have joined in. They’re seeking food and treats, toys and brushes, and coats and sweaters, or cash donations for all of the above.

The program did not always include coats and sweaters. They were added in 2012, seen by the organizers as essential, given that pets are not always allowed into shelters for homeless people.

Last year, homeless people’s dogs and cats found alternative winter warmth in more than 250 coats and more than 250 sweaters given away with the pet baskets. “However, we need even more generous contributions to continue this program, since it has become vital to the survival of these special pets,” said Eileen Samitz, co-coordinator of the program.

This year's distribution will include at least 500 coats and sweaters, Samitz said, plus 130 pet baskets (the same number as last year) to be assembled with the help of the Mercer Clinic’s student officers. The distribution is set for Saturday, Dec. 14, during the monthly clinic.

Donations to the Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets and Winter Pet Coat and Sweater Program are tax-deductible and can be made as follows:

  • Online (through the UC Davis Giving website)
  • Check — Payable to “UC Regents-Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets.” Mail to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, Office of the Dean, P.O. Box 1167, Davis 95617-1167, Attention: Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets.

For more information, contact co-coordinator Eileen Samitz by email or phone, 530-756-5165.

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