What is Project Shepherd?
Project Shepherd is a non-profit organization run by the City of Lakewood and the Rotary Club of Lakewood. Since 1972, this neighbor-to-neighbor assistance program has collected canned goods, dry staples, toys, backpacks and personal care items to distribute to Lakewood families in need throughout the year and around the holiday season.
Click for mail-back Project Shepherd donation form to send with a check.
Emergency Food and Utility Bill Assistance (year-round)
Project Shepherd's year-round emergency food pantry is precious to the people it serves every week of the year. The resource benefits hundreds of Lakewood families in crisis annually. The year-round needs of the food pantry make non-perishable food and basic goods donation always welcome. In addition, utility bill assistance can be provided to qualified applicants.
"People need help throughout the year, not just in the month of December," said Caitlin Cariaso, Community Services Supervisor. "Working with Project Shepherd through our food pantries at the Burns Community Center and Palms Park, we can help residents year-round with emergency food assistance."
December Holiday Program
Project Shepherd makes the December holidays a bit more comfortable for those who are low income or unemployed. This holiday program helps provide the fixings for a holiday meal and toys for children. Over 2,000 individuals living in Lakewood, many of them children and seniors, will not be able to enjoy the holidays without the food, gifts and toys that many of us take for granted.
Applicants can sign up in November and must be Lakewood residents (determined by a current Lakewood mailing address and utility billing) and meet income restrictions. Call 562-925-7512 for more information, or for questions about donating to the program.
'Teddy Bear Tree' program
Reaching out to Lakewood's young people with a special gift is yet another way Project Shepherd makes the holidays brighter.
Teddy Bear Trees are set up at city hall, Burns Community Center, Weingart Senior Center and local Lakewood businesses. Call 562-925-7512 for more information on locations. On each tree are paper teddy bear ornaments with a child's name, age and holiday gift wish. Volunteers select a paper teddy bear and play "Santa" by purchasing the item for the child. Purchased items and the teddy bear ornament are then brought to city hall or to the Rotary Club table at Lakewood Mall on a designated weekend in early December. These gifts are then delivered along with holiday meal fixings to the child's family.
Thanks to our generous community, the Project Shepherd Teddy Bear Tree program fulfills special toy or gift wishes for more than 700 children each holiday season.
Gift baskets of holiday meal fixings
The big canned food collection gets underway with the Boy Scouts' annual "Scouting for Food" drive. Last year, more than 200 scouts canvassed Lakewood neighborhoods and collected 400 boxes of canned and dry food items. Local businesses, churches and residents also contribute to Project Shepherd and 20 Lakewood elementary, middle, and high schools also hold enormously successful canned food drives.
The donated goods are delivered to a warehouse where the sorting begins. More than 85,000 canned goods are put into gift boxes by hundreds of volunteers – many of them high school students. The donated gift boxes include all the fixings for a delicious holiday dinner.
One week before Christmas, recipients are invited to pick up their items or have them home delivered.
A backpack drive is held each year during the month of August to help children who are in need of school supplies. Sign-ups are taken in July and August at the Burns Community Center. Applicants must be Lakewood residents (determined by a current Lakewood mailing address and utility billing) and meet income restrictions. Call 562-925-7512 for more information, or for questions about donating to the program.