Novato Nonprofit Gets a Boost in Rebuilding Camp Lost to Wildfire

While there may not be a place to get coffee and doughnuts from a Dunkin’ (formerly Dunkin’ Donuts) franchisee in Marin County, the company’s foundation is making a mark locally.

As 2020 comes to a close, the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation– which provides financial support to health and hunger organizations across the country–has granted and delivered $25,000 to the Okizu Foundation, a Novato-based childhood cancer organization.

The grant to Okizu is part of the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation’s recent outpouring of $67,500 in support of California health and hunger relief organizations. The Foundation has provided more than $2.25 million in emergency relief grants this year in response to the significant increase of people who are facing unprecedented and costly challenges in the wake of the pandemic.

The grants are making a difference for organizations like Okizu Foundation, who is using the funds to rebuild its Butte County campgrounds. These camps, which offer recreation and respite for families affected by childhood cancer, burned down in the Bear Fire in September.

“We’re so grateful for this donation and are honored that the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation stands behind our mission to help all members of families affected by childhood cancer through peer support, respite, mentoring, and recreational programs,” Suzie Randall, Interim Executive Director at Okizu, says in a statement. “As Camp Okizu is the only one of its kind in Northern California, it was absolutely devastating when our facilities were damaged by forest fires earlier this year. Thanks to the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation, we have a renewed hope for the future and our programs for children with cancer and their siblings will continue to be offered free of charge, as we develop a plan for recovery.”

Camp Okizu in Berry Creek was designed to give families dealing with childhood cancer a chance to enjoy activities like archery, fishing and stargazing while they build friendships with other families.

These weekend camps are offered free of charge and come with medical supervision and a full kitchen and camp staff. The camp can also specialize its outings for families dealing with a specific diagnosis. There are also camps for Spanish-speaking families and camps for bereaved families.

While Camp Okizu is repaired and Covid-19 keeps social distancing a must, Okizu Foundation is creating new and exciting virtual programs to continue to offer peer support and other means of respite for families in need, free of charge.

The other organizations in California to receive grant funding from Dunkin’ includes Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank in San Diego, which received $15,000 for the purchase and distribution of food for the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, supporting 75 local children for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank received $20,000 to support operating costs for the Children’s Nutrition Program, including purchasing food, trucking supplies and program staff salaries.

The West Valley Boys and Girls Club in Canoga Park received $5,000 to help support the organization’s Grab N Go meal program which provides free breakfast and lunch meals to youth 6-18 years old.

Finally, West Valley Community Services of Santa Clara County Inc., based in Cupertino, received $2,500 to support local food pantry programs for low income and homeless area residents.

This latest round of funding follows on the heels of the Foundation’s $2.25 million in emergency relief grants distributed in March and September to support health and hunger relief organizations impacted by the pandemic.

In 2020, the Joy in Childhood Foundation will grant more than $4.5 million and has granted over $26 million since its inception.

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Charlie Swanson
Charlie Swanson is a North Bay native and an arts and music writer and editor who has covered the local scene since 2014.
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