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How to Help This Holiday Season

Featured Photo from How to Help This Holiday Season

Last issue, we helped you get in the giving spirit early by sharing what local nonprofits need in the months before holiday giving begins in earnest. Now, the green-and-red rubber is meeting the road, and it's time to help our local charities make the holidays merry for neighbors in need. From serving meals to sponsoring a wish list for a child in foster care, there are dozens of ways, both big and small, that you can make a difference.

Guardian ad Litem – Seminole County Friends of Abused Children

What they do: This organization helps provide abused and neglected children with clothing, shoes, luggage, tutoring, school supplies, summer camp experiences, eyeglasses, in-depth counseling/therapy, and holiday gifts, as well as educational, medical, and legal needs.


What they need: Friends of Abused Children has a goal of providing gifts this holiday for 350 children, from newborns to age 18. Volunteers are asked to work with coordinator Yvonne Stimac by calling 407-921-1987. Yvonne will provide the first name of a child, their age, gender, the child's three top gift choices, and a unique code number. With a strict maximum budget of $25, each volunteer will buy a gift and bring it unwrapped to Yvonne with all the child's information, including the code. The gift is then picked up by the child's Guardian ad Litem, who will bring it to the child's foster care placement location.


What they do: The mission of Meals on Wheels, Etc. is to enhance the quality of life for young and old by providing appetizing, nutritious meals as well as support services for seniors, which enable them to maintain their independence and dignity.


What they need: Volunteers will deliver meals and holiday gift bags on Christmas Day, and the community is invited to make sure every senior in need gets a gift bag. Gift bags must be marked male or female, and all items must be delivered to the Meals on Wheels office (2801 South Financial Court, Sanford) by December 16. If you are donating more than 15 gift bags, Meals on Wheels will pick them up. Call 407-333-8877, x100 to arrange pick-up. Meals on Wheels staff say tote bags in bright colors make the best gift bags.

Items for the holiday gift bags can include:


* Personal care items (hand lotion, perfume, nail polish, lipstick, after-shave)

* Flashlights with batteries included

* Stationery or greeting cards with stamps

* Jewelry (pins, earrings, necklaces, bracelets)

* Small hand towels

* Socks (male/female, all sizes)

* Slippers (male/female, all sizes)

* Gift cards (Walmart, Target, etc.) Elderly clients often use these cards to pay for pharmacy items.

* Candy (chocolate/hard or sugar free candy)

* Change purses/wallets (male and female)

* Crossword puzzles (large print)

* Fun trinkets

All items must be new and unopened. Please do not include candles or medical products of any kind.


Christian Sharing Center

What they do: The Christian Sharing Center is focused on preventing hunger and homelessness for families and individuals in crisis. Christmas meals and kids’ shoe distribution will be on December 15, 20, and 22.


What they need: To find out how you can help with any or all of these deliveries, contact Dan Ryan, director of client services, at 407-691-3114. The Sharing Center hopes to feed 500 families and 100 homeless for Christmas. These are the items you can donate that will help:


For families:

* Boxed stuffing

* Boxed scalloped or au gratin potatoes

* Canned green beans, corn, and fruit

* Boxed cake mix

* Canned frosting

* Boxed Jell-O

* A can or packet of gravy

* Bags or boxes of coffee or tea

* Plastic jars of mustard and mayonnaise

* $10 grocery gift cards


For the Homeless:

* Pop-top canned ham

* Pop-top canned baked beans

* Pop-top canned vegetables

* Pouches of instant potatoes

* Single-serve fruit cups and pudding cups

* Packets of hot chocolate and instant coffee

* Plastic utensils and napkins


The Sharing Center will need extra volunteer help around the holidays and will have opportunities for group volunteer projects. Contact Patricia Shields, volunteer manager, at 407-691-3138 for more details.

SafeHouse of Seminole


What they do: The mission of SafeHouse, the county's emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence or abuse, is to have a community of healthy, violence-free relationships. SafeHouse strengthens families in Seminole County by developing, promoting, and enhancing creative prevention and effective intervention initiatives that will reduce the amount of violence in intimate relationships.


What they need: For the holidays, SafeHouse is looking for the following items:


* Gift cards to Payless ShoeSource, Shoe Carnival, local malls, or Best Buy

* Jewelry, hair and makeup items, and nail kits for teen girls


* For more specific needs, check out SafeHouse's holiday wish list on its website and Facebook page.

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