Remembering those in need this holiday season

I hope you've enjoyed my posts on holiday decorations and gifts -- but the best gift of all is giving to those in need and to causes and organizations that serve our community. Due to the economic downturn, this has been a hard year for many in our region. Sacramento has also seen hard times in the past. This post is a nod to that history -- along with suggestions on how to help our fellow Sacramentans right now.

Many people are familiar with the work of photographer Dorothea Lange -- did you know she took many photos in the Sacramento region during the Great Depression? Here are some examples of photos taken at American River Camp in November of 1936.

Destitute family. American River camp, Sacramento, California.
Five children, aged two to seventeen years

Child of migratory worker. American River camp near Sacramento, California 

 Daughter of migrant Tennessee coal miner.
Living in American River camp near Sacramento, California

 Migrant winter camp on outskirts of Sacramento, California.

Please view this excellent video with additional pictures and stories the people who lived in American River Camp during that time.

Here are some organizations that provide assistance at the local level. This is by no means a comprehensive list but, rather, a starting point. It includes favorites from some of my local friends. Do you have any favorites? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Sacramento Steps Forward
Loaves & Fishes has many programs that feed the hungry and shelters the homeless. Some of my friends' favorites include Mustard Seed School, Women's Empowerment, and affiliate programs such as Family Promise of Sacramento and SafeGround Sacramento.
Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services
River City Food Bank
Sacramento Crisis Nurseries
Sacramento Children's Home
Big Brothers and Sisters of the Greater Sacramento Area
Wellspring Women's Center
Tubman House
My Sister's House
St. John's Shelter Program for Women and Children
Meals on Wheels
Sacramento Habitat for Humanity
Wind Youth Services
Breaking Barriers
See also seasonal programs such as the Sacramento Bee's Book of Dreams and USPS' Operation Santa.