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HOLIDAY HELPING: Toy Drive Underway Food Collection Nets 4,741 Pounds on 2 Campuses

By Dateline Staff on November 21, 2017 in University

First came the Holiday Food Drive (and we’ve got the very impressive grand total for you), now comes the Toys for Tots drive, both brought to you by Mail Services for the benefit of Yolo County families.

In addition, staff and retirees of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital are once again raising funds for holiday gift baskets and coats and sweaters for pets belonging to homeless people in Sacramento.

Mail Services is assisting the Marine Corps Reserve on its Toys for Tots drive for the sixth consecutive year. Toys are being collected on the Davis campus for distribution to Yolo County children.

It’s easy to donate. Just bring new, unwrapped toys for ages up to 16, and leave the toys with your outgoing mail or in the blue bins around campus (see box for locations). Donations can be made until Friday, Dec. 8. The Marine Corps Reserve will distribute the toys in Woodland during the weekend of Dec. 16.

The Mail Services-Marine Corps Reserve partnership has proved successful, with donations increasing every year. This year, Mail Services hopes to collect 300 toys — so come on, Aggies! Buying just one extra toy in the store or online can really make a difference for children in our community.

For more information, send an email to

Food drive shout-out

Jen Carmichael, general manager of Distribution Services, which includes Mail Services, said Aggies already came through for the 12th annual Holiday Food Drive, contributing 4,741 pounds from the Davis and Sacramento campuses combined. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Davis campus — 2,138 pounds for the Yolo Food Bank
  • Sacramento campus — 2,603 pounds for Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services

Commenting on the Davis campus collection, Carmichael gave a shout-out to three units that donated the most food: School of Veterinary Medicine development office, Graduate Division and Repro Graphics. “I am hoping this will create some campus competition next year,” she said.

Treats and warmth for pets

Veterinary hospital staff members founded their holiday gifts program for pets 22 years ago, and most of the original team is still at it (including retirees) — on an entirely volunteer basis. The gifts and coats and sweaters are distributed at the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, which also has a UC Davis connection, as an all-volunteer project of veterinary students, preveterinary undergraduates and veterinarians.

The Mercer elves began with baskets of toys, treats, food and brushes, and started handing out coats and sweaters, too, about five years ago. Project coordinator Eileen Samitz, in her annual appeal for monetary contributions, described the coats and sweaters as “critical to help with the survival of the pets through the winter, since they are not allowed in many of the homeless shelters.”

Donations will be used to replenish the coat and sweater supply (more than 200 of each were given away last year), and to help fill 130 gift baskets — 90 for dogs and 40 for cats.

This year’s distribution is set for Saturday, Dec. 9, during the monthly clinic (it’s open the second Saturday of every month). Mercer Clinic is on the grounds of Sacramento’s Loaves & Fishes, which provides food and shelter and other services to homeless people.

Contributions to Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets, including coats and sweaters, can be made online or by check. All donations are tax-deductible.

  • Online —
  • 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 coordinator Eileen Samitz by email,, or phone, 530-756-5165.

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or