City of Ukiah, California

Police Department

Safety · Professionalism · Community Service

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Ukiah's Christmas Effort

I am so proud to live in Ukiah – to call Ukiah home – to be part of a community that cares so much about others.

Just think back over the last few weeks; our community jumped to action to help those who lost so much during the Lake County Valley fire, and a few weekends ago we supported our veterans at our annual Guitars for Troops fundraiser.

Yep, this Thanksgiving, I am truly grateful to be part of a community that cares so much, and is willing to do so much to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

As we take time to reflect on all we have this Thanksgiving, I’d also ask that you consider those who will need our help this Christmas.

For more than 65 years, volunteers for the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort have provided needy families with food and gifts to celebrate Christmas. Whether they’re donating turkey dinners or a few special gifts for each child, the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort’s goal is to serve as many local families as possible. Thanks to generous donations from our community, the Christmas Effort has brightened Christmas for thousands of people.

Right now volunteers are gearing up for another Christmas season to continue their tradition of service.

It all started in 1948 when a parent sent a letter to a local school nurse expressing concern about the poor health of some of the students. In response to the letter, Jack Simpson, Bob Cannon and other Ukiah Valley School District teachers, principals and staff members began asking local merchants and families to donate food, clothing and gifts to give to needy families. With that, the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort was born.

Over time, the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort grew and was later managed by our local Soroptomist Club. Soroptomist Shirley Grover, a Ukiah Police Department secretary, helped spearhead the effort. She said the Christmas Effort provided for families who would otherwise have nothing, and she made it clear to everyone that this effort was "her Christmas, her baby." Until she passed away, she worked year round to make it happen.

After she retired from the police department, Shirley worked part time for the Redwood Empire 12th District to help pay for the use of the largest building in Ukiah to house the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort. She also made sure the Christmas Effort was structured to last a lifetime: she obtained non-profit status for the organization and developed a board of directors.

Today, the Christmas Effort has an energized and committed board of directors, and they hope to receive funding and support to serve families in need this Christmas season. This means they need monetary donations so they can purchase complete, fresh, nutritious Christmas dinners with turkeys, stuffing, cranberries and all the trimmings. And the Christmas Effort needs toys and other age-appropriate Christmas gifts for those under 18. Their goal is to provide each child with two gifts valued at twenty-five dollars each.

On Christmas Eve morning, perishables are packed and final preparations are made for Christmas Effort deliveries starting by 8:00 am. The Christmas Effort always needs volunteers to help with the delivery of these very special packages, helping families from Potter Valley to Ukiah and Hopland.

You can contact contact President Sheryl Graves at (707) 272-9627 or The Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort also has a fantastic Facebook page:

Our community cares, and that’s why I feel so thankful to call Ukiah my home. We care about helping those who live and work in our fantastic community. If you can, please consider helping our local Christmas Effort – your help will truly make others thankful they also call Ukiah their home. 

As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: 

By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police

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Safety · Professionalism · Community Service