HOLIDAY HELPING: Pet Project, Food Drive, Turkey Trot

HOLIDAY PET BASKETS — UC Davis’ Mercer Clinic elves have issued their annual appeal for food and treats, toys and brushes, and coats and sweaters for dogs and cats belonging to homeless people.

The basket project is an all-volunteer effort started 23 years ago by staff members of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. Most of the original Mercer elves are still at it — even those who have retired — and newer staff members have joined in.

Woman and dog receive Holiday Pet Basket
Holiday Pet Basket distribution day at the Mercer Clinic.

The elves distribute the baskets at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, another all-volunteer effort with a UC Davis connection. Each month, veterinary students, preveterinary undergraduates and veterinarians operate the clinic on the grounds of Loaves & Fishes in Sacramento. Loaves & Fishes provides food and shelter and other services to homeless people, while the Mercer Clinic cares for their pets.

The Holiday Pet Baskets started out with food, treats and brushes. About five years ago, the elves started handing out coats and sweaters, too. “They are critical to help with the survival of the pets through the winter, since they are not allowed in many of the homeless shelters,” said Eileen Samitz, a veterinary hospital retiree who serves as the project’s co-coordinator.

This year the Mercer elves, with the help of the Mercer Clinic’s student officers, are planning to prepare 100 baskets for dogs and 30 for cats, with the distribution set for Saturday, Dec. 8, during the monthly clinic.

Donations to Holiday Pet Baskets 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.

HOLIDAY FOOD DRIVE — Now in its 14th year, run by Mail Services — which makes donating so easy: Simply place nonperishable food at your department or unit mail stop, and mail personnel will collect the food on their regular rounds.

Mail Services collects on both campuses. Donations from the Davis campus go to the Yolo Food Bank and donations from the Sacramento campus go to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. The drive runs through Friday, Nov. 16.

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-ounces 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
Running Coupling Constants logo
Team logo: Running Coupling Constants.

PHYSICS TEAM STILL ON THE RUN: The Yolo Food Bank has a lot going on (it’s building a new facility and conducting a capital campaign), so it has decided to cancel its Thanksgiving Day fundraiser, the Running of the Turkeys in Woodland. But that doesn’t mean the UC Davis physics community is taking a year off from raising money for the food bank.

The Running Coupling Constants, as the physics team is known, instead will bring its traditionally large contingent and considerable fundraising skill to the Davis Turkey Trot, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Anyone is invited to join the team, even if the physics term “running of coupling constants” means nothing to you. (Any of our participating faculty members and students will be happy to explain it to you!)

When you sign up with the Running Coupling Constants for any of these distances — 5K, 10K, 2-mile, half-marathon — the Davis Turkey Trot will give $5 of your registration fee to the Yolo Food Bank. Also, Lloyd Knox, Richard Scalettar and David Wittman of the physics faculty will donate an additional $25 for each of the first 40 people who sign up.

But, wait, there’s more. Knox, Scalettar and Wittman are taking up a collection for the food bank, and will match the donations dollar for dollar up to $1,400. So, if the faculty members muster at least 40 runners and $1,400 in donations, the Yolo Food Bank will receive a minimum of $4,000 to help feed the hungry.

Sign up here with the Running Coupling Constants in the Davis Turkey Trot.

Learn more about the Turkey Trot: location, starting times, etc.

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