The Benicia Women’s Club capped off a productive year by donating toys to the less fortunate for the holiday season. The toys were donated to the Toys for Tots program and will be distributed through the Benicia Fire Department.
Children of lower-income families will now be able to enjoy a variety of toys this Christmas, including books, teddy bears, remote-controlled cars, a Captain America shield and a “Frozen” backpack.
The donations were just one of the many activities the club took part in during the year. Since its inception in 1938, the Benicia Women’s Club has worked to “serve the general welfare of the community,” as member Mary Marino put it. The club has been very active in the community, having planted flowers along First Street and dedicating benches on First and at the Benicia Historical Museum.
Marino said the club planted several trees along Military East and East Second Street where a church was operating. Eventually, the church gave way to the Davies Square shopping center- home of Buon Appetito and Nation’s Giant Hamburgers, among other businesses- and the trees were cut down.
“The Women’s Club got in touch with them and said ‘Hey, you took those trees down,’ and they replanted them,” Marino said. “It was a David and Goliath kind of moment.”
The club has also provided scholarships to graduates of Liberty High School and Benicia High School and started the Junior Organization in 2014 to get middle school girls involved in the community.
“A small group of them went out last weekend to do Christmas caroling around neighborhoods,” Marino said. “They also have fundraisers and support projects.
Members have also partnered with the Benicia Community Action Council and meet once a month at the Union Hotel, often with a guest speaker. In 2016, the club will mark 20 years of supporting the California reforestation program Pennies for Pines. In that time, the club has planted over a thousand trees. Additionally, 2016 will mark 78 years of the Benicia Women’s Club taking on projects to improve the lives of people in the community.
“We started in 1938 and are still going strong,” Marino said.
Benicia Women's Club members pose with toys they donated at December's monthly meeting at The Union Hotel. (Photo courtesy of Mary Marino)