The Berkeley Rep courtyard is a holiday treat of lights, music and snow — of sorts. Credit: Berkeley Rep

This story is brought to you by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.

After such a long time apart from their theatergoers, Berkeley Rep wanted to create something special, so they decked out their courtyard for the holidays. Patrons — and passers-by — can enjoy the trees, the lights, the music, the cheer… and even snow! 

In the spirit of the season, Berkeley Rep invited visitors to join in helping the many organizations doing amazing work within the community. They partnered with seven local groups to create “giving trees,” where the organizations can place giving opportunities and items from their wish lists on the trees for audience members to contribute if they wish. 

“We are grateful for our ongoing collaboration with the Berkeley Rep community,”  said Sister Maureen Duignan, executive director East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. “Their help is having a huge and positive impact on Bay Area immigrant families and asylum seekers.”

A giving tree in the Berkeley Rep courtyard. Credit: Berkeley Rep

Wishes at the Berkeley Food Network range from large to small — from a conference table and a wall-mounted monitor, down to a pile of gently used paper bags for giving out groceries. The Berkeley Food & Housing Project would like $25 donations for gifts for their residential clients, while a youth program is asking for $15 poetry notebooks. 

“These are just a small handful of organizations we are proud to support to make Berkeley and the Bay Area a better, stronger place for all,” said Sunshine Deffner, Berkeley Rep’s associate managing director.  “As we emerge from this long intermission, it is critical for us to not only acknowledge that we are a part of the larger social ecosystem of the community in which we live, work, and play, but that we activate ourselves and our audiences to support that unspoken social contract” 

  • Berkeley Food & Housing Project ’s mission is to ease and end the crisis of homelessness in our communities.
  • Berkeley Food Network sources food from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, local food businesses, and local farmers that is later distributed to Berkeley residents. 
  • East Bay Sanctuary Covenant provides legal and social services, community organizing, and transformative education to support low-income immigrants and people fleeing violence and persecution
  • Girls, Inc. of Alameda County inspires girls to be strong, smart, and bold through programming in K-12 education, health, and leadership, delivered in schools and in our centers. 
  • OASIS has over 35 years of combined professional experience in immigration legal services for the LGBTQIA+ community, and has helped over 700 LGBTQIA+ immigrants obtain asylum in the United States with a 99% success rate. 
  • The Ryse Youth Center is a place where integral parts of a hurting and glorious city come to shed conflict so that they may seek and create solutions. 
  • Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center provides a safe space, warm meals, counseling, and support to identify housing to any homeless woman and her children during the day, when shelters are closed. WDDC serves an average of 150 women and children each month. 

The giving trees in the Berkeley Rep courtyard have already produced results.  

“Thank you so much for including us and our wish list. We have gotten donations of cash, yoga mats, tea kettles, paints, and paint brushes. Thank you!” said Girls Inc. of Alameda County.

If you would like to make a gift to one of the organizations, contact them directly through their website, linked above.

After the holidays, come join us at Berkeley Rep in January to see comedian Mike Birbiglia, social commentator Fran Lebowitz, and world premiere musical Swept Away.

This story was written and paid for by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, whose mission is to create ambitious theatre that entertains and challenges its audiences, provokes civic engagement, and inspires people to experience the world in new and surprising ways.