hat do you think of when you consider the holiday season? Family members gathered around the dining room table enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal? Presents under the tree, sharing moments of joy and delight as the holiday spirit embraces you?
That isn’t the case with everyone. Many are unemployed, looking for jobs that won’t return any time soon. Some are struggling to pay bills and put food on the table for their family, while others are living on the streets without a home to call their own.
If you find yourself asking, “What can I do, after all. I am only one person?,” there are many convenient opportunities in the Greater Cincinnati area to help those in need, including donating items for food drives, donating new and used clothing, giving the gift of a toy to a child in need and volunteering your time. It only takes one act to make a change; imagine what many acts would accomplish.
(www.freestorefoodbank.org) located at 112 E. Liberty St. in Over-the-Rhine provides food and services to people in need all year round. Responsible for distributing more than 18 million pounds of food annually, the Freestore also delivers Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday meal boxes every holiday season. The folks at the Freestore Foodbank are asking for help collecting clothing, personal care items and non-perishable foods (especially canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, tuna, canned chicken and soups).
Valley Interfaith Food & Clothing Center
(www.vifcc.org), an organization focused on assisting people in need with food, clothing, emergency financial assistance and other necessary services, is in full swing with its holiday programs, called The Food Basket and The Sharing Tree. The Food Basket provides all the fixings for a traditional holiday meal, including turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, bread, margarine, canned vegetables and cookies. They also provide macaroni and cheese, cereal and peanut butter for the winter break. The Sharing Tree is a program that allows individuals to select a child’s name and purchase a toy and desired clothing item for him or her. Presents are to be wrapped nicely, labeled with the child’s name and ready for Christmas distribution. The Valley Interfaith Food & Clothing Center assists people in the communities of Arlington Heights, Reading, Sharonville, Woodlawn and many more. Donations of food and clothing are accepted as well as monetary donations via checks and all major credit cards.
American Red Cross
(cincinnatiredcross.org) begins its Holiday Mail for Heroes program in November. The idea behind this program is to send a little holiday cheer to military personnel via holiday cards with heartfelt messages. There are two ways to get involved, including making or buying holiday cards and sending them to the Red Cross P.O. Box, or by hosting your own card-signing party. The Red Cross also assists military personnel and their families by aiding in emergency communications, access to military financial aid societies and assistance for military families including creating Family Care packages, for which contributions and donations are readily accepted.
Another way to help this holiday season is to volunteer your time. The
Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless
(www.cincihomeless.org) serves the homeless community through emergency shelters, transitional living facilities, permanent housing, medical services, social services, soup kitchens and mental health/addictions services. Various volunteer opportunities are listed on the coalition’s website, including those at Our Daily Bread on Race Street, the Over-the-Rhine Soup Kitchen on Vine Street and the Walnut Hills Soup Kitchen. Volunteer tasks can include working in a soup kitchen, delivering food, meal preparation, sorting donated items and much more.
One small gesture can make a huge difference in someone’s life, especially during the holidays. ©
MORE WAYS TO HELP:
Food From the Heart Drive
Various Kroger locations, 513-562-8849, www.svdpcincinnati.org
St. Vincent DePaul has teamed up with Kroger and Fox 19 for the annual Food From the Heart food drive. You can participate by purchasing non-perishable food items and dropping them in the food collection barrels located at Kroger store entrances or by making a cash donation in the donation boxes at checkout counters at all Kroger stores. You can also make an online donation on St. Vincent DePaul’s website.
2011 Tri-State Toys For Tots Campaign
Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, 513-221-2370 ext. 311, www.cincinnati-oh.toysfortots.org
Give a toy to a needy child this holiday season. The Cincinnati Toys for Tots Organization has partnered up with the Salvation Army again this year to bring a little holiday cheer to children in need in the Tristate area. Monetary donations are also accepted via their website and by mail.
Remke Biggs Holiday Food Drive
Various locations, www.remkes.com
The Remke Bigg’s Holiday Food Drive will benefit the Brighton Center and Freestore Foodbank, helping families on both sides of the Ohio River.
It will be accepting non-perishable foods and canned goods through Dec. 16. Donations are in-store only and are accepted at all area Remke Bigg’s locations in marked bins located by the check lanes.
City Gospel Mission
1419 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, 513/241-5525, www.citygospelmission.com
The City Gospel Mission has two Christmas programs, the Christmas Store and the Christmas Boutique, that help the needy in the area. The organization has a need for volunteers for both events and is in need of donations such as new toys ($10-$30 value) and new upper-body clothing ($20-$30 value) for the Christmas Store and gifts for senior ladies for the Christmas Boutique.
Salvation Army Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky, 114 E. Central Pkwy., Downtown, 513-762-5600, www.use.salvationarmy.org
Cincinnati & Northern Kentucky hosts the Adopt-a-Family Sponsors program with the goal of pairing sponsors with a family or a senior in need. Individuals, families or groups can participate in the program. Sponsors will purchase and wrap presents for the family or senior and drop them off at the Christmas distribution center.