Donations, South Bay non-profit volunteers highlight 'Giving Tuesday'

A room full of BMO bank employees in San Jose was, Tuesday, building bridges to those in need by creating care bags.

"It’s a really important day to go out and support non-profits in the community," said Kevin Zwick, CEO of the United Way Bay Area.

His non-profit was the recipient of this exercise in people-power, and financial power. On "Giving Tuesday," the bank donated $3 million to the United Way, while 50 volunteers put together bags of toiletries and other needed items.

"I was hopeless at one point. And I had four kids, at the time. And I felt like I was trapped," said United Way ambassador Rachel Reese.

She said programs funded in part by large philanthropic efforts during "Giving Tuesday" provided a lifeline for her recovery, when she was a homeless mother with four children.

"To us it seems simple. But it’s really not. It makes a difference," she said.

Ten miles away, in South San Jose, executives with high-tech firm ASML also had the corporate check book out.

"This is the largest gift to Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley in the organization’s history," said Mayor Matt Mahan, (D) San Jose.

The company’s $1.4 million donation will fund expansion of STEM, Summer Enrichment, and Teen programs.

"We’re always looking for the ways we can make the most impact in the communities we live, work and play in," said Leah Sicat, ASML’s Global Head of Employee Impact & Regional Engagement. Added Verona Nunez, an ASML program director who credits the Boys and Girls Club for helping influence her early life, "It was everything. I spent my entire childhood from seven years to 17 years, like in my local clubhouse."

Also in the South Bay, students at the Stratford School Santa Clara Winchester collected five-barrels worth of food for CityTeam, to provide hot meals and groceries for those struggling in life.

Experts said the cumulative effect from all these efforts bends the arc of the country, and the country’s well-being..

"It’s well documented that there are many benefits to philanthropy, including you gain it improves your health. It improves the wellness of your life and the people around you," said Brian Otis, Univ. of New Haven vice president of advancement.

Experts said the global day of giving back known as "Giving Tuesday" can highlight the truest sense of the upcoming holidays, and tap into the best part of those willing to give.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv