1:44 PM Eastern - Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SEIU members give back this holiday season

SEIU members across the country are joining together to give back to their communities this holiday season. Here's a look at what some SEIU members in Michigan, Virginia, California, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Maine and North Carolina are doing.

SEIU Local 526 Members Provide Former Foster Kids with Care Packages

HolidayPresents.jpgMost college students go home for Christmas, but what if you were raised in foster care?

This year, SEIU Local 526 members teamed up with the Michigan State University College of Social Sciences to provide former foster kids with some holiday cheer, donating gift bags with clothes and supplies to help them get through the next semester at school.

SEIU Local 5 Members Raise Cash To Help Wounded Vets

Last year, Army National Guard Sgt. Kenny Walls and Mike Sibley started collecting presents for wounded soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This year, members of the Fairfax County Government Employees Union (FCGEU) Local 5, heard about their efforts and decided to help out, soliciting donations from members while also assisting the new charity "Friends of the Wounded Veterans" in working through the paperwork required to obtain tax-exempt status for the future.

"Our agenda as a union is for county employees to provide quality public service to the citizens of Fairfax County, regardless of who they are and their situation," Jon Miskell Jr., an FCGEU union officer, told Centre View newspaper. "We are all heavily involved with community service and we obviously felt that the Friends of the Wounded Veterans is a great cause, especially since local citizens got involved in creating it."

SEIU 721 Workers' Toy Drive Helps LA County Kids Enjoy the Holidays

Following an annual tradition of giving that began three decades ago, SEIU 721 members donated hundreds of toys, electronics and other gifts this holiday season to children who live in group homes and foster care throughout Los Angeles County.

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Volunteering their time, SEIU 721 members began collecting and donating new unwrapped toys in early November through a network of drop spots at worksites throughout Los Angeles County. By mid-December, the Local had collected hundreds of toys and gifts for donation, which were distributed at holiday party for children last Friday at McLaren Children's Center in El Monte.

The SEIU 721 Holiday Toy Drive was started in 1980 by Alexa Lucchese, an SEIU staff member who grew up as a foster child in L.A. County.

SEIU 721 represents more than 25,000 social services workers in the County of Los Angeles, many of whom interact with children every day. A committee of volunteer SEIU 721 members runs the toy drive every year, soliciting donations from fellow union members, community groups and companies.

1199SEIU Massachusetts Participates in Toy Drive for Local Homeless Shelter

Anna Matteo was one recipient of 1199SEIU's toy drive for St. Ambrose Shelter.

PHOTO: Anna Matteo was one recipient of 1199SEIU's toy drive for St. Ambrose Shelter.

Over the last month, 1199SEIU collected toys, clothing, kitchen, bathware products, and other items for residents of the St. Ambrose Shelter, located in Dorchester, Massachusetts. More than 120 different items were delivered to the shelter and close to $4,000 was spent on purchasing the gifts.

Last Thursday, 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner delivered the clothing, toys, and other gifts. "It's wonderful to know that in these tough times, we can dig deep in our pockets and give to those who are in need," said Turner. "This is what the holidays are all about."

St. Ambrose Shelter opened in 1989 and provides basic needs to families without homes, including three hot meals a day, job and life skills trainings, GED classes, child care, and transition services to move to independent living situations. The shelter has helped more than 2,000 families since opening.

SEIU District 1199 Members Collect Food and Toys For Laid Off Workers at Kings Daughter Medical Center

WOKholiday.jpgLast July, King's Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Kentucky laid off or reduced to part-time nearly 100 workers. But SEIU District 1199 members in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio have never forgotten their union brothers and sisters and former coworkers.

Twice this year, District 1199 members held a food drive for the laid off workers, and this past weekend, they came together yet again to hold a food and a toy drive for all the former workers.

MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 Members Make Sure Children in Foster Care Receive Holiday Gifts

For the past seven years, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 members who work at the Maine Department of Health and Human Services office in Portland have gone the extra mile to ensure that Maine teenagers and "tweens" who are in foster care over the holidays receive gifts.

"Our mission is to put a smile on the faces of teens in foster care," MSEA-SEIU Local 1989 member Rene Bernard said of the campaign. "We will raise awareness to the challenges these children are facing in their lives. We will be a positive light for this specific group of children who are sometimes missed in traditional holiday fundraising efforts." See what MSEA-SEIU members are up to by following them on Facebook here.

SEANC, SEIU Local 2008 Brightens For North Carolina Children and Families Down on their Luck

Each year, members of the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC)/SEIU Local 2008, participate in the Club Rudolph Project by "adopting" two children from the Greenville Community Shelter and providing gifts for children at local shelters. This year's adoptees were two teenage girls and members are raising money to make their holiday wish list come true.

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Members and volunteers of SEANC District 65 also made dozens of miniature Christmas trees out of wire coat hangers, strings of lights, and garland on December 2 and donated them to the residents of Universal Health Care, a Greenville nursing home. "This is an annual project for our district that we look forward to each year," said Lynn Tuthill, District 65 volunteer action chairman. "Each tree brightens up a resident's room."

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