About us

Share the Spirit launched in 1989. We are a nonprofit philanthropy that is operated and sponsored by the East Bay Times, a member of the Bay Area News Group. Our mission is to connect East Bay Times readers and locals to Bay Area nonprofits that assist seniors, alleviate homelessness, provide food and job training and many other laudable causes. 

Every September, Share the Spirit selects about 20 local non-profit groups in need of assistance. Those selected would have their stories and needs published in print and online in the East Bay times from Thanksgiving until the end of the year. Readers would then be encouraged to help fulfill these organizations by donating here

Nonprofits interested in being considered for a grant can learn more on our Grants page. 

$5 million+

Raised since 1989

700+ grants

Given since 1989


People helped since 1989

Donation FAQ

Yes. Donations to the Share the Spirit Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, are tax deductible. The tax ID number is 77-0229665.

(Please note that both programs of the Bay Area News Group — Wish Book in the South Bay and Share the Spirit in the East Bay — are part of one non-profit entity. The funds are not commingled. Nevertheless, the organization associated with the tax ID is ”San Jose Mercury News Wish Book Fund,” which may be pertinent when making a Donor Advised Fund gift or recordkeeping.)

Yes. You can also send your donation by mail using this downloadable donation form. Fill out the coupon, attach your check or credit card information (please do not send cash) and mail it to:

Share the Spirit, Bay Area News Group
P.O. Box 2127
Dublin, CA  94568

Yes. Donations are accepted year round. Just go to the donation page. Please note that direct donations to certain stories may be fulfilled, but you can still contribute to the general fund, which will be distributed to local charities throughout the year.

No. Every contribution is confidential and we do not provide donor names or email addresses to any outside organizations, including the organizations featured in the stories. The only time information is shared is if a donor wishes his or her name to be published in the paper and online as part of our “thank you to donor tribute” page.

Sorry, we are unable to manage donations of any type of goods, including toys, holiday food baskets, clothing, furniture, automobiles, etc. Please email [email protected] and we may be able to suggest organizations that accept such donations.

Share the Spirit maintains transparency on all costs that are essential to advance the mission to help as many as possible in the East Bay. The Bay Area News Group covers all printing and costs for producing the stories, and staff time. With this generous support from the Bay Area News Group, administrative costs are kept to a minimum. There are some costs to offer secure online donation option, issue tax receipts to all donors, postage, and to select and fully vet all fund recipients in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, and those costs remain around 5%.

East Bay Times’ reporters and photographers document the challenges and celebrate the successes facing individuals, families and nonprofit organizations in our community. These stories and a tribute to donors are published in the East Bay Times and on its website. The East Bay Times will also promote Share the Spirit as ads and special sections throughout the campaign. 

More ways to donate

Share the Spirit accepts these different methods of donating

A donor-advised fund (DAF) allows you to make tax-deductible charitable donations of cash, publicly-traded stock, mutual funds, and, in some cases, certain illiquid assets. Some of the advantages of DAFs are higher tax deductions, lower capital gains taxes, reduced estate tax, setting up a legacy of giving and no transaction fees. This article may provide more insight on the benefits of DAFs. Check with your financial institution or tax professional for more information.

When you designate your DAF to Share the Spirit, please note that the name of the organization associated with the tax ID is “San Jose Mercury News Wish Book Fund.”

Many companies offer a matching gift program to their employees that can boost the reach of a gift. Please contact your HR department for details on how to get a company match.

Help the community by gifting assets. The total value of stock, securities, and mutual fund shares are tax deductible upon transfer, and require no obligation to pay any capital gains on appreciation. If you are interested in making such a donation, please email us at [email protected].

A legacy gift is a distribution from your estate to a charitable organization through your will, trust or financial accounts. You can designate a specific amount, a percentage or the residual of your estate to the Share the Spirit Fund. 

Your legacy gift provides future support to the Share the Spirit Fund when you remember us through your will or trust or name us as the beneficiary on your savings, checking or pension account. All these gifts represent a meaningful way for you to create a philanthropic legacy to help throughout the Bay Area. Here is some sample language if you would like to include Share the Spirit in your will or estate plans, simply share this sentence with your attorney or financial advisor: “I bequeath $ ___ OR  ___ % of my estate to Share the Spirit, P.O. Box 2127, Dublin, CA  94568; Federal Tax ID: 77-0229665.” 

There is no minimum gift amount required and you can adjust it at any time. Your gift may also entitle your estate to a federal estate tax charitable deduction. Please contact [email protected].

Share the Spirit Board


Sharon Ryan


Sharon Ryan is the publisher for the Bay Area News Group since 2014. She is the first woman to lead the news organization. Ryan also serves as Executive Vice President-Western Region for MediaNews Group, the parent company of BANG. Previous posts include San Luis Obispo Tribune, CFO; St. Paul Pioneer Press, CFO and vice president of technology; and Chicago Tribune, director of business/operational analysis. Ryan attended Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where she received her master of business administration, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned a bachelor of science in accounting. She lives in San Jose.

Robert Gallagher


Bob Gallagher is the Director of Finance for the Bay Area News Group overseeing financials for the company. Gallagher started his career with Safeway where he filled many roles from Pricing to Data Analytics to Finance Manager. He then spent several years as a Senior Finance Manager for Orchard Supply Hardware before coming to Bay Area News Group in 2018. He has acted as a Manager or Director in finance for the last 10 years, and he joined the Wish Book and Share the Spirit Board in 2022.

Robert Martinez

Board member

Robert Martinez is the Retail Advertising Sales Director for the Bay Area News Group, overseeing local retail print and digital sales, targeted delivery, and special sections. He joined the Mercury News as a sales manager in 2005. Prior to that he was employed by the City of San Jose (starting at the age of 16) and worked his way through the Parks & Recreation Division. He even spent some time as an aide in the City Council Offices. During this time, Robert spent a lot of time assisting many great nonprofits. He has served on the Board of Directors for Wish Book and Share The Spirit since 2018. Robert is a lifetime member of San Jose and lives in the Blossom Hill area.


Leigh Poitinger

Board member

Leigh Poitinger is a director of marketing operations for MediaNews Group, which operates more than 50 daily publications including The Mercury News and East Bay Times. Previously she was News Research Director for The Mercury News, providing editorial research on a wide variety of topics. Leigh coordinated the Wish Book program from 2012-20. She began her career as a librarian at The Baltimore Sun.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - July 07: Melvina Ponzio (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Melvina Ponzio

Board member

Melvina Ponzio is Vice President of Circulation Operations for the Bay Area News Group, overseeing home delivery, retail sales and transportation. She joined The Mercury News as Home Delivery manager in 2001. Melvina came to The Mercury News from the Arizona Republic, where she held the position of Call Center Manager. Prior to the Call Center assignment, she was an Area Manager responsible for a regional center directing district sales managers and several hundred independent carriers. She began her career with Phoenix Newspapers in 1993 as a District Sales Manager Relief. She lives in the South Bay with her husband Jerry, who is a teacher. She joined the Wish Book and Share the Spirit Board in 2022 and has supported the programs over the years.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - July 07: Nicki Valdez (Dai Sugano/Bay Area News Group)

Nicki Valdez

Board member

Nicki Valdez is the Marketing Director for the Bay Area News Group, overseeing the promotion and awareness of the company’s news brands which include 3 daily newspapers, 22 community weeklies and a host of accompanying websites. She has spent over 25 years in marketing including promotions, market research, marketing operations and management. As a new board member she is committed to providing fresh perspective and finding strategic ways to raise awareness around the outreach of the Wish Book and Share the Spirit programs. She has long been an advocate of community outreach serving as a volunteer in the East Bay, where she lives, for community cleanup and food giveaway programs.


2023 Share the Spirit campaign

Editor: Cecily Burt

Reporters: Ethan Baron, Kate Bradshaw, Andre Byik, Gabriel Greschler, Jim Harrington, Jim Harrington, Grace Hase, Lisa Krieger, Katie Lauer, Luis Melecio-Zambrano, Steve Palopoli, Sal Pizarro, Julia Prodis Sulek, Paul Rogers, Harriet Rowan, Robert Salonga, Austin Turner, Ethan Varian, John Woolfolk and Linda Zavoral

Photographers: Dai Sugano, Doug Duran, Josie Lepe, Karl Mondon and Nhat Mayer

Photo editors: Doug Duran and Laura A. Oda

Online design: Pai

Contact us

[email protected]

Phone: (408) 920-5009

Share the Spirit, Bay Area News Group
P.O. Box 2127
Dublin, CA  94568

Tax ID: 77-0229665