Many of us are thinking of ways we can give back as a family this holiday season. One way to make the holidays a little brighter for all Austin families is to sign up to fulfill the wish list of another family in the area. You can choose to adopt a child or family with your own family, although you can also volunteer as a group with your work colleagues, neighbors, friends or members of your place of worship. Here are some places locally to register, but you’ll need to hurry to sign up, as these opportunities go fast!
Austin Children’s Shelter provides on-campus services for children, young adults and families affected by abuse, exploitation and neglect. The holidays are a difficult time for the children, youth, and families fighting to heal from instances of abuse and neglect. Project Santa fills the needs of children and families the Austin Children’s Shelter serves both during the holiday season and beyond. Due to limited storage space, the Children’s Shelter has come up with a list of items of greatest need based on the most-served demographic: children 0-5 and 13-20 years old.
Donation Drop-Off Times: Saturday, December 12, 2015 (9am-noon); Sunday, December 13, 2015 (noon-4pm) and Monday, December 14, 2015 (5-7:15pm); if you cannot deliver gifts during this time, ACS can accept donations during regular office house (M-F, 8:30am-4:30pm)
Drop-Off Location: Austin Children’s Shelter, 4800 Manor Rd.
Easter Seals works to promote independence and create opportunities for people with disabilities to pursue their hopes and dreams. Easter Seals Central Texas collects information about its clients that are in need of gifts this season and creates an angel for each child, sibling, or adult with special needs. Last year, Easter Seals we gave 156 angels the joy of a gift, this year the organization’s hoping to grow that number to at least 200. Gifts will be limited to a $20 maximum per angel. Please include a gift bag and tissue paper with your angel’s gift; do not wrap it with paper.
Timeline: Angels will be available beginning November 30, 2015. Gifts will be due back to Easter Seals no later than December 16 at 5pm. Pick up can be arranged. Gifts will be delivered to angels by the team of Easter Seals elves the week of Dec. 17-22.
To register: to fulfill a wish, please email email@example.com or call 512-615-6833.
Guided by the vision that seniors and adults with disabilities should live in a supportive community with dignity and as much independence as possible, Family Eldercare provides essential services to seniors, adults with disabilities and caregivers. Often the people served by Family Eldercare have little or no family to celebrate the holidays with. Volunteers can step in and provide some comfort and cheer with holiday gifts for seniors and adults with disabilities who may otherwise receive nothing. You can choose to Sponsor a Client, deliver gifts or do both.
Timeline: Wishlists will be sent out the second week of November. Volunteers will be assigned deliveries, beginning December 1. All gifts should be delivered on or before December 18, 2015.
To register: click here.
Foundation Communities provides affordable, attractive homes and free on-site support services for thousands of families with kids, as well as veterans, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. You can sign up to sponsor a Foundation Communities family for the holidays. Visit the sponsor registration page for guidelines and to register online. You can also purchase new gift items from the Holiday Drive gift list, posted here.
Timeline: To request to sponsor a family, online registration must be completed by Friday, December 4, 2015. To donate to the Holiday Drive, deliveries are accepted by appointment from Monday, December 7 through Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 9am-5pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 512.6104008 to schedule a delivery.
LifeWorks is a fearless advocate for youth and families seeking their path to self-sufficiency, committed to innovative problem solving, shared accountability and a relentless focus on achieving real, sustainable and measurable results for its clients. Project Holiday Help is designed to connect LifeWorks youth and young families with community sponsors to ensure everyone participating has a meaningful holiday experience. Sponsors are matched with a LifeWorks youth or family in crisis to provide gifts from a wish list of items suggested by the client and their case manager. Sponsors may specify family size (small or large) and should anticipate spending about $100 per person (new and gently used items are welcome). Donors are asked to wrap and label each gift and deliver them to LifeWorks in early December. You can also donate gift cards for LifeWorks’ Holiday Gift Card Drive.
Mobile Loaves and Fishes is a social outreach ministry to the homeless and indigent working poor. The organization and its volunteers provide food and clothing and promote dignity to homeless brothers and sisters in need. The organization will have a Blessing Tree online to provide the community with the opportunity to purchase a gift for some of its clients. There is also an opportunity to help furnish the micro-homes at the Community First! Village. You can order items off Amazon or purchase items off the wish list and hand deliver them.
Blessing Tree information available online: December 1, 2015
For more information: contact Miranda at email@example.com.
The mission of the Austin Police Operation Blue Santa is to provide toys and food for families in need during the Holiday Season. This charitable outreach began in 1972 when two patrol officers realized that some families on the patrol beat would not have gifts or food for their children at Christmas. Your giving is a personal decision based on your budget and your ability to donate. Families come in all shapes and sizes, from a family of one senior to families of two to 22 adults and children. View available families online and put in your request. Once you have been given a family, you will contact the family to obtain their wish list. At minimum, you will be expected to provide the family with the means for a meal and gifts for children 14 and under.
Registration deadline: December 18, 2015
For more information and to register online, click here
Partnerships for Children Holiday Wishes
Partnerships for Children (PC) is dedicated to helping Child Protective Services CPS caseworkers in their efforts to protect children by providing critical resources to abused and neglected children in Austin and Central Texas. Many Central Texas children have never known the thrill and anticipation of the holidays and the happiness that the holidays bring. The Holiday Wishes program is able to create memories for children served by Child Protective Services (CPS). Each child is able to submit 3 wishes that are fulfilled through the generosity and support of the community.
Gift deadline: December 11, 2015
To request a child to sponsor, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SafePlace’s Sponsor a Family program allows a donor to be assigned to shop for holiday gifts for a family or individual who is a client. They may be women, men or children who are victims of sexual or domestic abuse. Due to strict privacy and confidentiality policies, you will not meet the family you are sponsoring.
To register: complete the online form here.
Every year, The Salvation Army provides Christmas assistance to families in need in Travis and Williamson Counties. Through the Angel Tree program, donors can give joy to a child in need during the holiday season. The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program provides new clothing and toys for children of families in need. Found in local malls, companies and churches, Angel Trees are decorated with numbered paper angel tags with the first name, age and gender of a child in need of gifts. Contributors remove one or more tags from the tree and purchase appropriate gifts for the child or children described on the tags. You can also register online for up to 5 angels. After the Angel’s gifts have been purchased, they are returned to The Salvation Army, where they are sorted by their unique code numbers and distributed to the families.
Timeframe: November 14-December 13, visit one of two area malls and choose an Angel from the Angel Tree there. Return gifts to the Angel Tree booth at your designated mall (from M-F, 10am-9pm) by December 13 at 5pm. You can also deliver gifts to the Christmas Cheer Center at 6510 South Congress, M-F 9am-4pm.
Where To Find An Angel Tree: Lakeline (upstairs by JC Penney) or Barton Creek Square (upper level near Sears) Malls between 9:30 AM – 9:00 PM Mon-Sat; 1-6:00 PM on Sun days.
Register online: for up to 5 angels here
The mission of The Settlement Home for Children is to promote healing and growth in children, young adults and families by providing a continuum of care, support and resources. The Settlement Home serves individuals with histories of severe emotional trauma, abuse or neglect. This year, you can support the girls ages 12-21 that the organization serves in two ways: you can either donate a gift from the wish list or sponsor a child. Unwrapped donations can be dropped off during regular business hours. If you’d like to sponsor a child, the average cost is between $150 and $200. The organization is also looking for donations of wrapping paper, bags, boxes and labels to help packaging gifts. Wish list items include:
- sports equipment
- scented body soaps and lotions
- touch screen MP3s
- young adult books and movies
- gift cards to Target, Half Price Books, Visa, MasterCard, Plato’s Closet, Barnes & Noble, Forever 21, HEB
- throw blankets
- adult coloring books
- stocking stuffers
- planners, calendars and scrapbooks
Donation deadline: December 14, 2015
To register: to sponsor a child, please contact Kay Hughey at 512.836.2150 x151 or email@example.com.
STARRY provides free professional counseling for children, teens, parents and families in 32 Texas counties; emergency shelter services for abused and neglected children; foster care and adoption services for children needing long-term care and a SAFE program for runaway or homeless children and youth. Some of the kids who come through the program arrive with little to no belongings. Often they have to leave everything behind. Due to confidentiality rules and state law, names of children will not be disclosed and presents cannot be delivered directly to the child.
Average cost of donation: $125-$150/child
Gifts due: December 7, 2015
To see a sample list and sign up to reserve your list, click here
Saint Louise House was founded in 2000 to address the drastic shortage of safe housing and supportive services for homeless women and children. The non-profit provides deeply affordable and supportive housing for low income homeless women and their children with the goal of helping families develop long-term stability. Like all moms, Saint Louise House moms love the opportunity to do a little holiday shopping for their families. You can help them by making a donation of a $10, $20 or $40 HEB, Walmart or Target Gift Card. For more information, please contact Emily Hawarny at 512.302.0027 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline: Gift cards must be received by Friday, December 11, 2015
Toys for Tots delivers, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them into becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. Toys for Tots accepts new, unwrapped toys for children ages 2-15. Toys cannot resemble weapons. Last year, the local Toys for Tots program received more than 30,000 toys, some of which were purchased with over $25,000 in donations. Over 900 families and 34 nonprofit organizations benefited from last year’s donations. Distribution days and times begin on December 15th.
For a list of drop-off sites, click here.