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Around the Island: Jammie Drive

The weather has helped us fly into fall, and the winter holidays and season of giving are around the corner. Starting with Diwali and Thanksgiving and leading into Hanukkah, Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and Chinese New Year, it’s a magical season for all.

Alameda Post - presents under a tree.

Ten years of giving

Ten years ago, Alameda resident Merideth Mehlberg created a holiday family tradition of making someone else’s life a little better. In 2013, the first Alameda Jammie Drive launched with Merideth collecting gifts of jammies and slippers from friends and family for the women and children at Alameda’s Midway Shelter.

Alameda Post - the Jammie Drive. wrapped presents and stockings line a room
Christmas Morning at Alameda’s Midway Shelter, with gifts from the Jammie Drive. Photo used with permission by Building Futures.

Midway Shelter helps women and children suffering from homelessness and domestic violence. The shelter opened in 1989, and they chose the name Midway to identify the turnaround point in the lives of women and children where the cycle of homelessness and domestic violence is broken and replaced with a planned recovery process.

As we enter the 10th year of the Jammie Drive, the need is greater than ever. Earlier this year, dozens of volunteers and City and County workers covered the island and identified 264 individuals in Alameda who are homeless, 180 who are living unsheltered in a tent, car, RV, or on the street, and 84 who are living in emergency shelters and transitional housing. That’s an increase of 30 percent since 2017, and the Alameda Unified School District reports that 69 of their students—kids in Alameda schools—are currently homeless.

Building Futures for Women and Children is the nonprofit organization that manages our local shelters. Over the years, the Jammie Drive expanded to not only support the women and children at Midway Shelter, but also families at a local Safe House, a women and children’s shelter in San Leandro, and families who are moving out of these emergency shelters and into permanent housing of their own.

This year, Building Futures identified 80 families that need our support.

Here are three easy ways to make someone’s life a little better:

  1. Sign up to adopt a family: When you do, you’ll choose who you are buying jammies for. Moms need jammies or sweatshirts and pants. Kids need jammies and socks. Everyone can use other cozy clothing if that is an option!
  2. Purchase your jammies: If you shop local, you can drop off your jammies at one of two outdoor drop-off stations where we will give you a small gift in return, a collectible token, and City of Alameda keychain celebrating the Jammie Drive’s 10th year. If you shop online or can’t make it to the drop-off stations, mail your jammies directly to Building Futures.
    • Drop-Off Station 1: Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m. to noon, Jean Sweeney Park
    • Drop-Off Station 2: Wednesday, December 8, 4 to 6 p.m., City Hall
    • Drop-off, mail to, or ship online orders now through December 15 to: Building Futures, c/o Jammie Drive, 1840 Fairway Dr., San Leandro, CA 94577
  3. Support families moving from emergency housing to permanent housing with a move-in kit: Celebrating the Jammie Drive’s 10th year, our goal is to raise $10,000 to help families who need it the most. If your employer will match your donation, your contribution will have double the impact!

Housing ends homelessness, and as families move from emergency housing into permanent housing, they often have little to no belongings. These move-in kits include basic needs such as bedding, cleaning supplies, a microwave, kitchen supplies, bath towels, and gift cards for groceries.

The holidays are a reminder to appreciate everything that we have, even when times are tough, including our small community and the big world around us. A giant thank you to Merideth and Kevin Mehlberg, all of the volunteers over 10 years who were a key part of the Jammie Drive’s continued success, and the 844 Alamedans who donated. This one effort has delivered cozy new jammies to 1,410 women and children and raised $40,000! Jammies keep people warm, and being able to give new cozy jammies and a fresh start to people in need makes us all feel warm

Additional resources

  • Alameda Homeless Hotline. Call 510–522-HOME (4663), or 211 on evenings and weekends
  • If you see someone who may be having a mental health crisis, call 911 or 510-337-8340 and explain the situation
  • 24-hour domestic violence hotline: 1-866-A WAY OUT (292-9688)

Sarah Henry is Communications & Legislative Affairs Officer for the City of Alameda. Reach her at [email protected].

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