HOLIDAY HELPING: Toy Drives and Pet Baskets

Mail Services Collects 2,304 Pounds of Food on 2 Campuses

Mail Services crew and UC Davis Health executive hold food items, while standing around tables filled with food donations.
Bradley Simmons, front, interim chief executive officer and the chief operating officer of UC Davis Medical Center, joins UC Davis Health Mail Services personnel in showing the generosity of their colleagues who contributed to the 16th annual Holiday Food Drive. Mail Services personnel, clockwise from right front: Loren Jenkins, Arthur Johnson, Tracy Miranda, Peter Chacon, Colin Stambusky and Gregory Olsen. (Charles Casey/UC Davis)


2,304 pounds of food, delivered!

Mail Services recently wrapped up its 16th annual Holiday Food Drive on the Davis and Sacramento campuses, collecting a total of 2,304 pounds of nonperishable food for people in need.

Here are the numbers: 1,509 pounds of food gathered in outgoing mail at UC Davis Health and 795 pounds dropped off to Mail Services at the Hopkins Services Complex in Davis.

Like all good mail personnel, the UC Davis team — part of supply Chain Management — made sure the food got delivered, despite some pandemic-related logistical challenges.

In years past, Mail Services donated food from UC Davis Health to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and food from the Davis campus to the Yolo County Food Bank. This year, because of operational and staffing issues, both organizations initially turned down the food donations.

So, Mail Services staff members identified two other recipients: the Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center in Sacramento and the ASUCD Pantry.

However, on Nov. 20, as Mail Services personnel at UC Davis Health prepared to deliver the food, they were informed that the Rose Family Creative Empowerment Center would not be able to accept the donation after all. Fortunately, by then, Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services had the staff and volunteers necessary to process the donations.

In the end, Mail Services made its deliveries to Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and The Pantry, benefiting students in need.

2 toy drives underway

Toys for Tots on the Davis campus — Mail Services announced that it has moved up the deadline to this Friday (Dec. 4) at the request of the Marine Corps Reserve, which runs Toys for Tots in Yolo County. Mail Services handles the campus collection annually on behalf of the reserve, which asks for new and unwrapped toys for Yolo County children up to age 16. There are three ways to donate on campus:

UC Davis Children’s Hospital Virtual Holiday Toy Drive — Donations are welcome on two platforms through Dec. 24:

“We invite the community to join us in making the holidays brighter for our patients and families, as this year has brought unique difficulties,” said Diana Sundberg, manager of the UC Davis Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department.

“We know this season will look very different,” she said. “We hope that our virtual toy drive will make it easy and safe for people to give. The support of the community means so much to us.”

Holiday Pet Baskets

Mercer Clinic Holiday Pet Baskets, given to homeless people for their pets, will soon be distributed for the 26th consecutive year, thanks to volunteer elves who share an affiliation with the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. And the elves have issued their annual fundraising appeal to keep the project going.

It began in 1995, organized by hospital staff members for the benefit of homeless people and their pets who visited the Mercer Clinic for the Pets of the Homeless, another project with UC Davis volunteers: students and veterinarians from the School of Veterinary Medicine, and pre-veterinary undergraduates. The clinic is in Sacramento, on the grounds of the charity organization Loaves & Fishes where the Holiday Pet Baskets are distributed.


The holiday program still has most of its original volunteers — even those who have retired from the hospital — and newer staff members have joined in.

The pandemic has limited the volunteers’ ability to gather for basket-decorating, so this year’s goodies will come in bags adorned with the Mercer Clinic logo, according to VMTH retiree Eileen Samitz, who serves as co-coordinator with Becky Griffey, a VMTH employee.

The distribution will comprise 130 bags in all — 100 for dogs and 30 for cats — holding toys, treats and brushes, typical of what has been given since the first year of the program.

The distribution also will include pet coats and sweaters — something the elves added to the program in 2012, offering protection from rain and cold when pets are spending winter days and nights outdoors with their people.

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 Samitz by email or phone, 530-756-5165.

Stuff the Bus with food and more

Drawing of Santa Claus driving a Unitrans bus with "Stuff the Bus" as the destination sign.

Organized by Unitrans and the Davis Food Co-op, this fourth annual event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, in the parking lot of Davis Food Co-op, 620 G St.

Stuff the Bus this year is more than a food drive. Donations will go to the ASUCD Pantry, which assists students in need and has specifically asked for new shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bars of soap. 

The Pantry also provided a list of suggested food donations: canned or boxed meals; gluten-free grains like quinoa and buckwheat; canned fruit and vegetables; canned or dry beans; canned soup; low-sugar cereal; rice; whole grain pasta — and please don’t forget the peanut butter and similar items.

The bus to be stuffed is not just any bus — it’s a Davis transportation icon, a Unitrans vintage London double-decker that has not been on the road since the pandemic struck in March. People are welcome to climb the stairs to the bus’s upper deck — a treat for all ages.

Each of the first 50 donors will receive a Unitrans pass good for 10 free rides. For donors’ convenience, the Davis Food Co-op will offer prepacked bags of groceries and other items at the checkout stands — bags you can buy to help Stuff the Bus.

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