A drop-in celebration

Guy Poole Daily Planet staff
Thursday December 20, 2001

Shopping bags stuffed with gifts were given to 230 women and children Tuesday during the annual Christmas party for those who regularly use the services of the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center. 

The celebration, complete with a holiday meal of baked ham, potatoes au gratin, mashed sweet potatoes, biscuits and blackberry pie, was held at North Berkeley’s School of the Madeleine. 

At the WDDC, homeless women and children receive support, meals and access to community resources. The nonprofit agency serves an average of 150 women and children each month. 

Gwen Grayson, a single mother of seven children aged between 2 and 14 years old and a client of the center, filled up one of the long tables with her smiling family.  

Grayson and her children recently found themselves homeless when they moved back to Berkeley from the Fresno area. She sought assistance from the WDDC, which quickly found the family housing in Oakland. 

Berkeley Police Department officers “donated a large number of gifts with cash out of their own pocket, along with other organizations too,” said Linda Lazzareschi, WDDC director. 

Reserve Police Officer Rich Wolfman had a central role, playing a jolly Santa Claus. Wolfman was mobbed by the younger children wanting to hug and touch Santa Claus, as he distributed the gifts. 

The WDDC is located at 2218 Acton St., Berkeley. For more information call 548-2884. Services are available at no fee to any homeless woman or child.