Does a family that worries about paying their bills and putting food on the table dare to hope for a Christmas?
Every year, struggling mothers find our number and call us to ask how they can get help giving their kids a Christmas this year. They don’t want anything for themselves; they just don’t want their children to give up hope.
You can understand why we feel compelled to make this list every year. Please consider fulfilling the holiday wish lists of at least one family. The organizations involved have made the process simple and even fun, so there are few barriers to your generosity.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR GIVING:
It’s not complicated, but before you start shopping for toys and tying on bows, please take a look at these general guidelines for giving.
- DO GIVE EARLY. Most programs need donated gifts a week or two before Christmas. Don’t expect to be able to give to one of these programs the week of the holiday.
- DO ENLIST FAMILY, CO-WORKERS. Sponsoring a family is more fun when you can share the task with others.
- DON’T EXPECT TO MEET THE RECIPIENTS. In most cases, you won’t be able to meet the family or children you’re sponsoring. If that’s important to you, consider the Operation Blue Santa project below.
- DON’T GIVE TOY WEAPONS. Remember that many of the children receiving these gifts may have been through some terrible experiences of abuse or neglect. Focus on non-violent toys (no Nerf guns), toys that don’t need the Internet; no jump ropes, no toys depicting violence, no iTunes gift cards, no walkie-talkies.
- DO GIVE WRAPPING PAPER, BATTERIES. Consider donating wrapping paper if they ask for unwrapped gifts and batteries for all those gifts that need them.
- DO GIVE CASH. No time for or interest in shopping? Many of the organizations can buy at special prices and make your dollar go farther.
OPPORTUNITIES TO GIVE:
Any Baby Can Adopt-a-Family
Who They Help: Impoverished children and their families
Ways to Give: Sign up to adopt a family and fulfill their gift wish list.
When: Register for a family by November 15.
More Info: Any Baby Can
CASA of Travis County Holiday Toy Drive
Who They Help: More than 1,000 children spending the holidays in foster care away from their family.
Ways to Give: There are three ways to make a gift to the Holiday Toy Drive:
Provide children with a $30 gift they have personally requested
Donate $30 Target and Wal-Mart gift cards for children to choose their own gift.
Make a cash donation to support the Toy Drive.
When: Donate earlier in the season to ensure that all the children have a gift for the holidays!
More Info: CASA Toy Drive
Chuy’s Children Giving to Children Parade
Who They Help: The Children Giving to Children Parade benefits Operation Blue Santa!
Ways to Give: Bring an unwrapped toy and Santa’s Helpers will collect toys during the parade to be distributed to children for the holidays.
When: Saturday, November 28 at 11am
More Info: Chuy’s Parade
Family Eldercare Holiday Giving Drive
Who They Help: Elderly people who often have little or no family
Ways to Give: Sponsor a senior by purchasing gifts off their wish lists.
When: The deadline to confirm participation is November 18th and gifts need to be delivered by December 4th.
More Info: Family Eldercare
Foundation Communities Holiday Assistance
Who They Help: Foundation Communities provides affordable housing communities for families across Austin.
Ways to Give: Sponsor a Foundation Communities family for the holidays, donate to their Holiday Drive, or make a donation and they will shop for you!
When: If you’d like to sponsor a family, Sponsor request forms are due Friday, December 4; deliveries of gifts are accepted December 7-10.
More Info: Foundation Communities
LifeWorks Project Holiday Help
Who They Help: Youth and young families seeking to build a path to self-sufficiency.
Ways to Give: Sponsor a youth or family and purchase gifts from their wish list, purchase gift cards, or purchase backpack and sleeping bags.
When: The deadline to deliver your gift is December 13.
More Info: LifeWorks
Operation Blue Santa
Who They Help: They provide food and toys for about 5,000 families in need.
Ways to Give: Adopt a family and provide the family with the means for a meal and gifts for the children.
When: The deadline to adopt a family is December 18.
More Info: Operation Blue Santa
Who They Help: UT-Austin employees and their families with special needs over the holidays
Ways to Give: Choose from a list of suggested gift items and deliver the gifts so that parents can shop for their children’s holiday gifts. They will also want wrapping paper and gift wrapping supplies.
When: Drop off stations will be open November 2- December 4, this way parents have time to shop.
More Info: Orange Santa
Partnerships for Children Holiday Wishes
Who They Help: Children in the care of Child Protective Services.
Ways to Give: Donations, sponsor a child, or general gifts of toys.
When: Gifts must be delivered through Christmas. For more information, contact HolidayWishes@partnershipsforchildren.org .
More Info: Partnerships for Children Holiday Wishes
SAFE (Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace) Holiday Programs
Who They Help: SAFE serves victims of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault. To help these families take part in the joy of the holidays, there are a few ways you can give to them.
Sponsor a Child or Family
Fulfill a Wish: ACS will match you with a child or family in need.
Sponsor a Family: SafePlace matches you with a family or individual who is a client at SafePlace. /
Help families that aren’t on the Wish Lists:
ACS’s Project Santa: (http://www.safeaustin.org/get-involved/give/safe-holiday-programs/project-santa/)
ACS’s Gift Card Drive
SafePlace’s Shop for the Shelter
When: Deadlines for donations vary — and many are around Thanksgiving time — so please take a look now to put it on your list of to-do’s.
Saint Louise House’s Home for the Holidays
Who They Help: Provides housing and essential services to mothers and children experiencing homelessness in Central Texas.
Ways to Give: Sponsor a family or provide gift cards to help support moms who want to do a little shopping for their families.
When: New, wrapped gifts and gift cards delivered by Dec. 11.
More Info: Saint Louise House’s Home for the Holidays
Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program
Who They Help: Disadvantaged families in Travis and Williamson Counties
Ways to Give: Choose to Adopt an Angel and purchase gifts for a specific child or donate to help them purchase gifts for the holidays.
When: Bring your unwrapped gifts to a designated mall by Dec. 13.
More Info: Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program
Southwest Key Christmas Angel Program
Who They Help: Low-income youth and families in Central Texas.
Ways to Give: Sponsor a child or family and purchase from their wish list or make a donation to ensure children not on the list also gets a gift for the holidays.
When: The deadline to deliver your gift is December 18.
More Info: Southwest Key Christmas Angel Program
Texas Advocacy Project’s 2015 Adopt A Family Gift Drive
Who They Help: The Project provides free legal services to Victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Ways to Give: “Adopt” a family that has transitioned from a home filled with violence to one of safety and security. You may either select a gift from their Wish List or make a monetary donation towards the purchase of gifts.
When: All gifts must be received at the Project’s office by Friday December 4th so they can be wrapped and shipped by the 11th, on time for holiday delivery.
More Info: Texas Advocacy Project
Caritas Home for the Holidays
Who They Help: Homeless families, refugees and veterans
Ways to Give: Purchase items from their wish list: laundry baskets, bath towels, dishes, cleaning tools and also things like blankets and gloves, bike locks and helmets. See their lists here.
When: Donated items can be dropped off Caritas located at 611 Neches St during specific times here. Please call Caritas of Austin in advance to schedule your donation drop off.
NOTE: There are “Santa” programs across Central Texas if you don’t live within Austin city limits. Find other Santa programs to donate to — or apply for.