Family Giving Tree is committed to the partnerships we have with our recipient agencies, individual donors, sponsors and volunteers and part of that commitment involves transparency about our practices and processes. Given that both our Holiday Wish Drive and Back-to-School Drive involve considerable Drive Leader participation, logistics and planning, and community support, we wanted to share some specifics about each.

Holiday Wish Drive

Are the names on the wish cards actual people?  FAQs

Yes! FGT partners with more than 200 agencies to gather the exact wishes of Bay Area residents in need. The name and wish you see are actual children, seniors and homeless adults being helped by our partner agencies.

How do you make sure everyone gets their wish?

When FGT commits to providing a gift, we take that commitment very seriously. To ensure that everyone on our list gets their gift, FGT actually distributes two copies of each wish card to the public with the hope that at least one gift is purchased. Generally, about 40% of all wish cards are not returned with a gift. If neither wish card for a gift is returned, warehouse volunteers shop at our Holiday Wish Drive warehouse “store” to find a gift that best fits the wish and that gift is given to the recipient so no one goes without.

What is the Holiday Wish Drive “store”?

The Holiday Wish Drive “store” at the warehouse holds thousands of donated and Family Giving Tree bulk purchased items for distribution during the Drive. Any gifts donated without a wish tag or any duplicate gifts are placed here until a volunteer matches it with an unfulfilled wish tag.

What happens if I don’t turn in a wish card I selected?

Every single recipient whose name is on a wish card will receive a holiday gift from FGT, whether their wish tag is returned or not. Unfulfilled wish tags are matched with the best option from our Holiday Wish Drive warehouse “store” prior to their assigned agency pickup time.

What if two people fill the same wish?

This doesn’t happen often but when it does, we have a system in place. If both copies of the same wish card are returned with a gift attached, our trusted warehouse staff and volunteers have a decision to make. The gift that best fits the listed first wish will remain with the gift tag. The alternate gift will be moved to our Holiday Wish Drive warehouse “store” where it will be used for another unfulfilled wish which was not returned. All donated gifts are given to qualifying recipients during the holiday season through our partner agencies.

What happens if I turn my gift in late? Should I bother turning it in?

Yes! But be aware that late gifts may not go to the exact child or recipient listed on the wish card if their agency has already picked up their allotted gifts. Our 200+ partner agencies begin picking up from our warehouse just a few days after Drop-off Day. This makes it incredibly important for all wishes to be returned on time. If your gift is late, your gift may be reassigned to another child or recipient whose similar wish has gone yet unfulfilled or be used as a gift option in our warehouse "store" for recipients on our waitlist. Rest assured, ALL donated gifts will bring joy to their recipient and are distributed to our partner agencies - even those late arrivals!

What happens to "extra" gifts?

With over 350,000 children living in-need right here in the Bay Area, there is unfortunately always a greater need for holiday gifts than FGT is currently able to fill. Any gifts left in our warehouse “store” at the end of the Holiday Wish Drive are distributed to agencies on our waitlist who are always excited to receive the items.


Back-to-School Drive

How do you decide which students to serve?

FGT uses the financial qualifications for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) as the basis for determining need.  With over 350,000 students in the Greater Bay Area qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, there are always students in need of assistance. FGT focuses our efforts on schools where more than 70% of students enrolled meet these qualifications. That being said, if an individual or corporate donor would like to sponsor the needs of a particular school in their area, we are happy to help! Please contact [email protected] for more details.

Can I include other items in the backpack that are not on the list?

While we love the generosity of our donors, we ask that no additional items beyond what is on the school supply list be included in the backpack. By having equity from one backpack to the next, we ensure that "backpack envy" does not arise when the backpacks are distributed so that no child feels a classmate received something better.

How do you develop the list of supplies for each grade level?

In order to make sure that we are delivering the most meaningful and useful supplies to each student, at the end of each Back-to-School Drive we survey and confer with our partner schools' administration and teachers. Their guidance helps us make the best decisions about what should be included in each backpack.