Ways to Give This Holiday Season

If it is more blessed to give than to receive, then perhaps turkey gluttony and gift grabbing should take a back seat to generosity this holiday season. The following local organizations are doing great things for the people of the Louisville area, and they could really use your help. This is by no means a comprehensive list; this city has far more agencies, charities and missions than could fit in this space. The abundance of community servants points to an abundance of need – and confirms that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in Louisville.

Wayside Christian Mission

Wayside Christian Mission provides emergency shelters and supportive housing for men, women and families in Louisville. It also offers a recovery program, educational classes and job training. Its Samaritan Patrol vans deliver coffee and blankets to homeless people throughout the city, or transport them to the shelter.

“Naturally, we can always use finances,” said Nina Moseley, chief operating officer at Wayside.

At this time of year, the need is even greater. “We’re in the cold season as well as the holiday season,” she said.

Wayside’s dining hall is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the year, so there is always an opportunity to help out.

On both Christmas and Thanksgiving, the dining hall will serve 2,500 meals. For those meals, it will accept donations of fresh fruit, produce and desserts. “It takes literally an army of people to prep and serve and clean up,” Moseley said.

Food donations are always welcome year round, as are donations of clothing. For the winter, Wayside needs coats, scarves, blankets, hats, gloves and socks for people of all ages.

Wayside also needs volunteers to help with crafts and games for children.

For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.waysidechristianmission.org or call 502.584.3711.

The Center for Women and Families

The Center for Women and Families provides support services for victims of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence. It provides an emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling and advocacy.

This holiday season, Republic Bank, Heine Brothers’ Coffee and the Kentucky Derby Festival are partnering to host a gift card drive in support of the center’s clients. Individuals, businesses, and community groups are asked to purchase gift cards in increments of $25 and deliver them to designated locations.

The center’s clients benefit most from gift cards from local retailers such as K-Mart, Target, Walmart, Meijer, JC Penney and Kohl’s. Additionally, Visa or MasterCard gift cards are welcome.

The drive started Nov. 12 and will run through Dec. 12.

Rather than buying gifts for the families of the center’s clients, the gift card drive provides a more empowering way to give. Marta Miranda, the center’s president and CEO, said abuse victims benefit greatly from opportunities to make their own purchases. “Giving survivors the power that comes along with making decisions about which gifts will bring the most joy to their family is what the center’s mission is all about,” she said.

Gift cards may be delivered to any of Republic Bank’s 23 locations in Kentucky and southern Indiana, to Heine Brothers’ Coffee’s Crescent Hill location at 2714 Frankfort Ave., or to the offices of The Kentucky Derby Festival, Inc. at 1001 S. Third St. Gift cards may also be delivered to one of the center’s campuses – either 4743 Poplar Level Rd. in Louisville or 4919 Charlestown Rd. in New Albany – or mailed to the center’s development office at P.O. Box 2048, Louisville, KY 40201. For more information, visit www.thecenteronline.org or call 502.581.7200.

Louisville Rescue Mission

Louisville Rescue Mission, formerly Jefferson Street Baptist Center, is the fifth oldest homeless rescue mission in the U.S. With the goal “to extend gospel-centered mercy to the homeless and hurting,” its day shelter offers breakfast, showers, mail services and a storage facility. The mission also hosts a nine-month LifeChange Program for men and a Learning Center, which provides education and biblical instruction.

The mission continuously needs donations of canned goods and breakfast foods like bagels, coffee creamer and sugar. Day shelter guests always need toiletries like razors, deodorant, soap, shampoo and towels.

There are always opportunities to help staff the day shelter, which is open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-12 p.m.

The mission will hold a Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 26 starting at 3:45 p.m. Food, supplies and volunteers are needed. The mission is also seeking donations to fund a Christmas Eve brunch, as well as volunteers to help serve the meal.

For more information, call volunteer coordinator J.C. Tyson at 502.584.6543 or visit www.louisvillerescuemission.org, where you can learn about volunteer opportunities or make a donation. You can also sign up to help with the Thanksgiving Dinner online.

St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul in Louisville is part of a worldwide Catholic lay charitable organization that serves the poor and homeless. To keep its food pantry stocked, St. Vincent de Paul collects canned goods and other nonperishable foods. Individual contributions are always welcome, and groups of volunteers are encouraged to hold food drives. “That’s really helpful,” said Linda Romine, director of communications.

At 1026 S. Jackson St., the Open Hand Kitchen serves free meals at noon and 5 p.m., seven days a week. Each year, it serves about 140,000 meals. “The numbers go up during the holidays,” Romine said.

Many volunteers have already signed up to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas Day meals. “We are really blessed with a ton of volunteers,” Romine said, “so the need is for days other than those, around the holidays.”

For its annual Santa Shop, St. Vincent de Paul is collecting Christmas gifts for children whose families are in need. “We seldom get enough gifts for the mid teenagers,” Romine said. Suggested gift donations include sports equipment, hoodies and jeans, plus toys for the younger children.

St. Vincent de Paul recently opened a Family Success Center on South Preston Street, where it offers after school enrichment. But the center doesn’t have supplies yet, so it needs donations of arts and crafts supplies and computer software. The center also needs volunteers to teach. “We’re looking to have classes in any kind of skill that could be taught to middle schoolers and even grade schoolers,” Romine said.

For more information, visit www.svdplou.org. To help with the Family Success Center, call program manager Kendra Oatis at 502.272.2138. To help serve meals, contact volunteer coordinator Donna Young at 502.301.8688 or dyoung@svdplou.org.

Dare to Care Food Bank

Dare to Care Food Bank partners with over 300 social service agencies to distribute food to people in need. Based in Louisville, it serves Jefferson County and 12 surrounding counties in Kentucky and Indiana.

Dare to Care depends on generous retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, processors, growers and trucking companies. It also looks to community food drives held by companies, schools, churches and civic organizations.

Dare to Care accepts donations of fresh, dry, refrigerated and frozen foods, as well as non-food items like cleaning supplies and health products. At its warehouse, volunteers are needed to sort food Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. or 1 p.m.-3 p.m. Volunteers who can drive a truck or provide administrative support are also a big help.

There are also opportunities to teach cooking and nutrition outreach classes.  Or, volunteers can serve meals and help with activities at one of Dare to Care’s many Kids’ Cafes throughout Louisville Metro.

For more information, visit www.daretocare.org. Financial contributions are accepted via the website or by mail at P.O. Box 35458, Louisville, KY 40232. To schedule a food drive for your organization, fill out the participation form online or call food drive coordinator Joey Stinson at 502.736.9415. For information about volunteering at a Kids’ Cafe, call youth services manager Johnna Worley at 502.736.9414.

Volunteers of America

Volunteers of America of Kentucky, headquartered in Louisville, is an affiliate of Volunteers of America, Inc., one of the nation’s largest human service organizations. Partnering with faith congregations, government agencies, businesses, individuals and other nonprofits, the organization “helps real people facing real challenges to find real and lasting solutions.”

Volunteers of America’s programs serve people dealing with such challenges as addictions, homelessness, developmental disabilities and HIV/AIDS. The organization also provides services to veterans.

“Our most pressing need is for monetary contributions,” said Jenny Recktenwald, senior director of communications.

A giving campaign called “Hope for the Holidays” is underway to raise money and goods to help clients. Gift cards to budget-friendly stores make great donations. New winter accessories such as gloves, hats and scarves for all ages may be dropped off at any Heine Brothers’ Coffee location in the Louisville area. The campaign also asks for new toys, games and pajamas for all ages and sizes.

To learn more about Hope for the Holidays, visit www.voaky.org/holidays. To make a donation, or for more information, contact Donna Trabue, director of community engagement, at 502.636.4641 or donnat@voaky.org. Financial gifts may be made online or by mail; call 502.636.0771 to request an envelope. A list of volunteer opportunities is also available online.

Metro United Way

Metro United Way is part of a national system of volunteers, contributors, and local charities. Its mission is “to improve lives and our community by engaging people to give, advocate and volunteer;” its vision is “a community whose people achieve their fullest potential through education, financial stability and healthy lives.”

Partnering with government, businesses and other non-profits, Metro United Way supports over 90 agencies and 160 programs in Jefferson and surrounding counties. The organization provides manpower and administration that reduce the overhead costs individual charities would incur on their own.

In Louisville neighborhoods, Metro United Way works with Ages & Stages Questionnaires, which provides developmental and social-emotional screening for young children. The screen helps families better prepare their children for school. This holiday season, Metro United Way is asking community members to help provide educational toys for Ages & Stages Questionnaires participants. Those wishing to contribute can purchase toys from Metro United Way’s wish list on Amazon. Purchases will be shipped to the organization’s office in Louisville.

To purchase a toy for a child in the Louisville area, visit www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist and enter “Metro United Way” in the search box. For more information about the organization, visit www.metrounitedway.org. At the website, you can donate or click “Volunteer” to search for local service opportunities that match your specific interests.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army in Louisville belongs to an international organization whose mission is “to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in love and meet the human needs in the community.” The Salvation Army provides care and support for hungry and homeless members of the community. It also offers recreational, educational and character-building opportunities for youth. The organization is especially known for its annual Christmas collection and giving.

The Salvation Army is seeking volunteers to fill over 2,000 slots for this year’s Red Kettle Campaign, with the goal to raise $400,000 by Christmas Eve. Volunteers will ring a bell in front of retail stores throughout Louisville Metro and take donations in a red kettle.

For more information about the Red Kettle Campaign, contact Nicole Baker at 502.671.4934 or nicolee_baker@uss.salvationarmy.org. To view locations, dates and times where volunteers are needed, visit louisvillesa.volunteerfirst.org. At the website, you can also learn more about The Salvation Army or sign up to volunteer.

Family Scholar House

Family Scholar House provides educational support and housing assistance to single-parent students. Family Scholar House provides family support services such as assistance in securing childcare and help with parenting skills.

Through its annual Adopt-A-Family program, individuals, groups or companies can sponsor a family. Each sponsored family submits a wish list, and sponsors have until Dec. 17 to turn in items from the list. Family Scholar House calls the sponsored families, and they come pick up their gifts. “It’s pretty awesome,” said community engagement specialist Nicole Gabriel.

Family Scholar House has 215 families that are residential and 881 pre-residential who are part of the program (waiting list).

At each of its four locations, Family Scholar House has a Kids’ Shop each year, hosted by a company or group of individuals. They collect goods for families, then invite children of Family Scholar House participants to come in and pick out a gift for their mother or father. Volunteers help the children wrap their gifts and write Christmas cards.

For both Adopt-A-Family and the Kids’ Shops, volunteers are always needed. “We have quite a few right now, but we could always use more,” Gabriel said. Donations will help stock the Kids’ Shops with gifts.

On a continuous basis, Family Scholar House also accepts donations of household supplies, hygiene products, clothing, educational supplies and other items to assist participants.

For more information, or to make a donation, visit www.familyscholarhouse.org or call 502.584.8090. Supplies can be brought or shipped to 403 Reg Smith Circle, Louisville, KY 40208.