Nonprofit helps families become self-sufficient

Laurie Wishard is the president of Peninsula Family Service, a nonprofit that provides children’s programs, loan services, career assistance and other services to help families become self-sufficient. The agency’s volunteers recently hosted a Holiday Toy Store in San Mateo to hand out donated gifts to parents, and the event was bigger than ever.

How did the Holiday Toy Store work? [Parents] pick out a gift in the store for their children and then the gift, as well as a book, is wrapped up by volunteers.

Why don’t you give directly to the children? We don’t want to foster dependency and we don’t want children growing up with the idea that community people give them gifts. We really want children to look to parents as the ones who give them gifts and really empower parents.

Was demand up this year? We had more parents really needing this kind of help this year than any year I can remember. We had about 380.

What kinds of gifts did parents take home? Just about every kind of thing you can imagine, because the children range in age from newborn babies to 17. We have a whole variety of little-kid kinds of things — Legos, we had some really nice Tonka trucks, we had scooters, we had a few electronic kinds of things.

3-Minute InterviewFeaturesLaurie WishardPersonalitiesSan Francisco

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