Project Shepherd

Project Shepherd volunteers

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 here to see Lakewood CityTV's video on Project Shepherd.

Click here to make an online donation to Project Shepherd.

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."

Click here for information on how to donate to the food pantry.

Click here for information on how to apply for emergency help.

Backpack Program

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.

You can donate new backpacks and school supplies appropriate for all ages at the Rotary Club of Lakewood booth by Macy's inside the Lakewood Center mall on the weekend of July 17-18 from 12-5 p.m. Or, donations may be dropped off at the Burns Community Center at 5510 Clark Ave. from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays through July 30, 2021. For more information, see the flyer at or call Burns Community Center at 562-925-7512. 

Scholarships for Recreation Programs

Scholarships are available for residents with low income who would like to participate in recreation programs with the City of Lakewood, such as swim lessons, camps and other recreational programs. Please contact the Burns Community Center at 562-925-7512 for more information before registering for a class or program.

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 1,200 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.

Paper teddy bear tree ornaments

'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 and Burns Community Center from mid-November to early December.

On each tree are paper teddy bear ornaments with a child's name, age and holiday gift wish. Anyone can select a paper teddy bear and play "Santa" by purchasing the item for the child. The unwrapped gift and the teddy bear ornament are brought to City Hall or to Burns Community Center. 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.

In 2020, Project Shepherd had to limit the traditional Teddy Bear Tree activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Project Shepherd was still able to provide food and toys to brighten the holidays of Lakewood families in need thanks to donations submitted through an online form, a virtual Teddy Bear Tree and an Amazon "wish list." Project Shepherd is very grateful to our sponsors and the Lakewood community for their extraordinary generosity during a very difficult year. 

Click here for information on how to register for Project Shepherd assistance, including the backpack program. 

Project Shepherd 2021 Sponsors

2021 Project Shepherd Sponsors