Holiday cheer for families waiting for those behind bars

KPFA Evening News, 12.24.2012 

The San Francisco Sheriff's Deputies and Department expanded this year's annual gift drive for children under care at Children's  Hospital to include families affected by incarceration. 


Project Cheer volunteers, including San Francisco City College cheerleaders. Volunteer Director Mahnani Clay, top row, second from the left. Photo: David Elliott Lewis

KPFA Weekend News Anchor: And this is KPFA, 94.1-Berkeley, KPFA, 89.3 Berkeley, and KFCF, 88.1 Fresno, Pacifica Radio for Northern and Central California. This program is the Evening News. I'm Anthony Fest.
Turning now to Bay Area news:  For the past thirty years, San Francisco Sheriff's Deputies have collaborated in Project Cheer, a holiday gift drive for children under care at Childrens' Hospital.  This year Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi asked Project Cheer's volunteer director Mahnani Clay to expand the gift drive to include families, children, and communities affected by incarceration affected by incarceration. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Mahnani Clay.  
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Mahnani, could you tell us about Project Cheer and its outreach innovations this year?  
Mahnani Clay: For the past 30 years, the Sheriff's Department has had a very successful toy drive, where the Deputies have donated toys to benefit children at Childrens' Hospital. But this year Project Cheer has partnered with the original toy drive and other non-profits to support families that have been impacted by incarceration. So, under Sheriff Mirkarimi's guidance, we have expanded the demographic, have expanded the group that we're able to support
KPFA: And do you have any sense of the program's impact on newly included communities yet? 
Mahnani: I certainly do. So far we have been able to grant over 400 holiday wishes for children both of incarcerated parents and in the community.
KPFA: Is there a childrens' Christmas wish list for donors to respond to? 
Mahnani: There certainly is. The parents have completed a wish list with the age and gender, and what the kids would be likely to enjoy the most . . . So from that we compile the list and we do our very best to match what's on that list.
KPFA: And the gifts are picked up at Project Cheer by parents who then present them to their children, right? 
Mahnani: Exactly. Exactly.
KPFA: And the gift drive will go on to New Year's? Is that right?
Mahnani: It certainly will. We've made a major impact so far, but we still have about 100 wishes left to go, so we will be collecting until the New Year.
KPFA: Do you have a number for anyone who'd like to get involved?
Mahnani: Yes I do. Let's go with my cell number, which is 510-972-3878. And I'll be available any time.
KPFA: OK. Thank you, Mahnani. For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison. 
Anthony Fest: And that phone number, again, was 510-972-3878.

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