Workers Helping Workers: More Than 650 Families in Need Receive Holiday Food & Toys at 32nd Annual United Way-Labor Council Event


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Ann Marie Price

Scatena Daniels

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Union Workers Partner with United Way of San Diego County to Help Families Struggling to Make Ends Meet

SAN DIEGO (Dec. 20, 2019) – Today, more than 650 families received dinners, toys, gifts and a whole lot of cheer just in time for the holidays donated by their fellow workers across San Diego & Imperial Counties. The 32nd Annual United Way of San Diego County and San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council Food & Toy Distribution is an annual event coordinated through their Unions United partnership. This event supports working families and community members who need extra help year-round thanks to the generous donations from union teachers, firefighters, retail workers, nurses, truck drivers, construction workers and more.

Over 500 families in San Diego County and 150 families in Imperial County benefitted from the 2019 drive distribution, including home healthcare workers, hospital workers, janitors and others who regularly need assistance due to low wages and high housing and healthcare costs in the region. Other recipients this year included Kaiser Mental Health Care Workers and UCSD workers, who went on strike to fight for higher wages for their fellow workers, and community members identified by local nonprofits, including recent immigrants and fire victims.

“A weight has been lifted off the shoulders of hundreds of families today as union workers make the holidays brighter for families in need,” says Keith Maddox, executive secretary-treasurer, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council.Come the holidays kids will have toys to open and parents will have dinner to serve because of the generosity of teachers, nurses, truck drivers, and hundreds of other union workers who donate to the partnership between the Labor Council and United Way of San Diego County

These workers support one another through Unions United, a partnership of the San Diego and Imperial Counties’ 136 member unions and United Way of San Diego County. Many of the 200,000 workers the Labor Council represents make monthly donations from their paychecks to assist fellow working families and community members in need. In addition to funding the annual holiday event, these donations support a year-round food pantry at United Way of San Diego County’s headquarters and emergency assistance for workers. Last year, 2,582 individuals and families received Unions United’s assistance – including food, rent, mortgage utility support and other assistance.

“Through Unions United we continue to make a long-lasting impact on families who experience economic and food instability not only during the holiday season, but also year-round,” says Nancy Sasaki, president and CEO, Unions United / United Way of San Diego County. “Our partnership with the Labor Council helps us reach families in diverse communities who depend on this extra support. With the assistance of our dedicated volunteers, donors and staff, we can inspire more community members to get involved and give back in their neighborhoods.”

For over three decades, United Way of San Diego County has partnered with more than 200,000 working families of the San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council to organize this event to assist workers and community members struggling to make ends meet. Over 150 volunteers from various local unions came together today to give back to pre-selected families who were the most in need in their union memberships. In addition to toys and gifts, all participating families received a bag of food with all the fixings needed to cook up a delicious holiday dinner.

“It’s my first holiday as a single dad – and even though I work hard every day – it can be a challenge on my salary to put a nice meal on the table and presents under the tree,” says Peter Estrevino, Grounds Maintenance, City of San Diego, AFSCME 127. “I am so grateful to my fellow workers for helping my three girls have a beautiful Christmas”

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For 99 years, United Way of San Diego County has aligned with partners to address inequities in the region and help underserved communities. United Way’s specialty lies in identifying sustainable, long-term goals and achieving them through leveraging data and partners’ expertise to better understand root causes and putting impactful solutions into action.

United Way’s work, in partnership with others, uses shared goals, innovation and proven practices to transform the lives of children, young adults and families in the San Diego region. United Way focuses on educational milestones, such as kindergarten readiness, third-grade literacy, high school preparation, and college and career pathways. Learn more and get involved by visiting, Facebook, Twitter, or by calling (858) 492-2000.


The San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council is a community of more than 200,000 working families standing together. At the Labor Council, nurses, teachers, firefighters, service workers and construction tradespeople join healthcare workers, hotel workers, janitors and zoo employees in their common fight for a voice on the job and at the decision making table. The Council and its 136 member unions seek to improve the lives of working people by advocating for living wages, housing that is affordable, quality healthcare and a secure retirement for all.