Pastor William D. Smart, Jr. (File photo)

As a community service non-profit and faith leader in Los Angeles, providing comfort and joy to our community members in need is the essence of my work. During the holiday season, that work is always more important.

As President & CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) of Southern California and the Executive Director of Hurting and Hungry Charities, I lead teams that provide food and personal necessities to underserved individuals and families in Los Angeles. During the holiday season, that often comes in the form of serving high-quality, nutritious meals and giving away toys for children so the holidays feel special to those who often struggle each day to make ends meet.

As you’d expect, these efforts depend on the charity and good will of individual donors and private businesses. We cannot fulfill our mission to put food on the table and toys under the tree without this collaboration. To the extent we can broaden these partnerships, we can expand the number of people and families we serve on our journey to eliminate food and income insecurity.

California-based DoorDash is one of our most innovative partners. In 2022, we worked with DoorDash to amplify our toy drive. They helped provide the funds needed to host our annual toy drive where more than 2,000 toys were given out to brighten the holiday season for 300 families and 1,100 children. This year, through our continued partnership with DoorDash and Immaculate Heart Community we were able to give away pre-Thanksgiving turkeys so more than 1,000 families could celebrate the holiday with traditional meals.

Nonprofit-private business partnerships, of course, are nothing new. United Way has partnered with grocery delivery companies nationwide to expand its reach. Large organizations like Make-A-Wish partner with major corporations to build and strengthen their services and increase awareness of their services and opportunities to donate. But often the behind the scenes work to make these impacts aren’t as visible to the public.

As a longtime non-profit professional, I know how vital partnerships with private companies are to increase our reach to serve more Angelenos. Utilizing logistics networks or under-utilized private space are two very innovative means by which non-profits can expand their reach. To scale up and more effectively fulfill a mission, identifying a helpful partner like DoorDash can be transformative.

The support of numerous everyday people and public agencies is also critical to bringing our programs to life. This holiday season, I am grateful to them and to all the private business partners of the SCLC of Southern California who help us advance our mission “to activate the “strength to love” within the community of humankind.” Let’s keep moving forward.

Pastor William D. Smart Jr. is a civil rights leader, non-profit professional, and the President and CEO at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California