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Posted 6:00 pm
December 14, 2012

Holiday fundraising organizations strike success in nightclub events

toy drive

The San Francisco Firefighter's Toy Program took place Thursday, Dec. 7, 2012. Yuppie Friday, a nonprofit organization, hosts charity events every other month at local bars in San Francisco's Financial District. Photo by Alejandrina Hernandez / Xpress

December marks a month full of peppermint candies, ice skating and caroling. It’s a time when everyone feels compelled to give back.

Fundraising events poised in nightclubs and bars are becoming popular for the 18 and older crowd.

Charity organizations like Yuppie Friday, made up of of young Bay Area affluent professionals, are specializing in fundraising and advocating local nonprofit organizations. The group hosts happy hour charity events every other month in the city’s Financial District. This year, it hosted the San Francisco Firefighter’s Toy Program, the nation’s oldest and the city’s largest fundraiser of its kind.

Yuppie Fridays’ parties are successful because of the creative approach to attract younger crowds with low-cost cocktails.

“By keeping it low, $15 for two drinks, it’s relatively inexpensive, even if it’s not a donation,” Jordan Angel, president of Yuppie Friday, said.

Several event spaces offer specials to patrons who donate money, new toys or canned foods to numerous charities in San Francisco with discounted admission or cocktails. Every other month, the philanthropic group hosts happy hour events with several Bay Area charities supporting the cause, whether if its for disabled seniors or youths getting into college. Yuppie Friday, who has collaborated with the toy drive since 2009, has seen an increase in its attendance and donations every year.

In San Francisco, 230,000 residents live at or below the federal poverty line, according to Blain Johnson, spokeswoman for the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks.

Last year, the San Francisco Firefighter’s Toy Program distributed more than 200,000 toys to 40,000 low-income applicants throughout the city. Yuppie Friday’s charity event held at Vessel nightclub last year featured a vintage fire truck, photo booth, DJ, 300 new toys and raised $4,000. These numbers have increased annually since the group started in 2009.

Yuppie Friday’s events offer an innovative alternative for the average college student.

“No child goes unserved in San Francisco,” Sally Casazza, San Francisco Toy Program executive director, said. “We always have something for them.”

During the holidays, 11 gentlemen’s clubs throughout the city host their annual holiday fundraisers where proceeds benefit low-income children. Adult clubs such as Condor, Little Darlings and Roaring 20′s offer free admission and complimentary drinks for patrons donating new toys and money to the San Francisco Firefighter’s Toy Program. In 2011, the clubs collectively raised $20,000 for the toy drive, money that was matched by management.

“We all have kids. We are regular individuals with jobs and we all have hearts,” said one of the Roaring 20′s manager, who declined to give his name for security reasons. “Helping out these underprivileged children is joy from the heart — it’s beyond anything that can be explained.”

Despite where donations come from, people are increasingly in need.

“Our lines have not decreased at all,” Johnson said. “High unemployment, a tough economy and the rising cost of living have pushed record numbers of people on the brink of hunger. Families who have always lived securely in the middle class are now seeking help at our food pantries.”

Event planners believe students are willing to donate as long as it’s easily accessible and they understand the cause.

“A lot of young people are willing to donate because it wasn’t long ago they were children themselves,” Cazzasa said. ”They understand the importance of gifts during the holidays.”

Samuel Alvarez, humanities major, understands the importance of donating to the less fortunate, yet he was unaware where to donate and what is needed. Alvarez grew up in a middle-class family with the latest clothes, shoes and electronics. He now lives away from home and paycheck to paycheck, and understands the reality of financial struggle this holiday season.

“As students, we focus on our issues and needs when we should realize we’re fortunate to have it better than others,” Alvarez said.  “For children, Christmas is their favorite time of the year and we should help anyway we can to make it happen for the less fortunate.”

Though students may have less income than the average adult, charities welcome any method of donations.

“Every little bit counts and every donation helps reduce hunger in the communities,” Johnson said. “The contributions of young people in our communities should not be overlooked. They can and do help the food bank in many ways — by hosting events to benefit the food bank, by giving canned goods, volunteering their time or making donations online.”