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Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

Jordan Magaziner Steinfeld
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Jingle Bell Express event

Pictured (from left) are Stacia Currier and Elizabeth MacConnell volunteering at last year's Jingle Bell Express event.

The holiday season is underway! If you’re looking for a way to give back, we’ve rounded up some opportunities to volunteer or donate items to those in need:  

Operation Turkey  
Multiple Houston locations including St. Paul’s United Methodist Church; American Legion; Katy Elks Lodge 
Nov. 24, 6 a.m.-finish: Turkey Tailgate; Nov. 25, 6 a.m.-finish
Contact: [email protected] 
Operation Turkey works to ensure everyone gets a warm meal on Thanksgiving Day. Help prepare, package, and deliver food to those less fortunate on Thanksgiving. Find details and register to volunteer here.  

City Wide Club of America’s Super Feast – Thanksgiving and Christmas    
Super Turkey Food Drive: Mon., Nov. 22, 2021, 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Volunteer opportunities available on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Multiple drop-off locations
Contact: 713-752-2582
City Wide Club of America holds a Super Feast annually on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve Day at George R. Brown Convention Center, where thousands are served with not only traditional hot nutritious meals but also clothing, household items, shoes, blankets, coats, jackets, flu shots, medical examinations, food baskets, haircuts, new toys, vehicles, and more. The Super Turkey Food Drive, Nov. 22, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., will benefit the 43rd annual “Super Feast” event. There are multiple ways to help: Sign up to volunteer at the Thanksgiving Super Feast Prep Day, Super Feast, Christmas Eve Prep Day, or Super Feast; drop off donations (items in need include turkeys, non-perishable foods, toys, household items); or donate funds here

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston’s Santa Project  

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston’s Santa Project provides opportunities for individuals to donate gifts to kids and teens in the Greater Houston area whose families may be experiencing financial hardship during the holiday season. (Photo: Andres Garcia)

815 Crosby St., Houston, TX 77019
Contact: 713-868-3426 or [email protected] 
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston’s (BGCGH) Santa Project provides opportunities for individuals to donate gifts to kids and teens in the Greater Houston area whose families may be experiencing financial hardship during the holiday season. BGCGH coordinates matching children with interested participants. Register to participate by Mon., Nov. 22. Each donor will receive a list of the requested gifts, purchase them, and then drop off the wrapped and labeled items to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Houston’s at 815 Crosby St. Drop-off dates: Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.  

Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Week
Contact: [email protected]
Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels Thanksgiving is a project hosted Thanksgiving Week that provides turkey dinners with all the trimmings to homebound seniors in the Greater Houston/Galveston area. IMGH needs to raise $55,000 to provide meals to 4,900 seniors in need. This year, volunteer deliveries will not take place due to Covid-19; however, IMGH is looking for volunteers to make holiday calls to seniors. Find details about the Friendly Neighbors Caller Event and sign up here. Donate toward Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston here. Browse Volunteer Houston's website to see volunteer opportunities year-round.  

Houston Food Bank  

Houston Food Bank

Give back to the Houston Food Bank by donating funds, donating food, volunteering your time, or sending a holiday card benefiting the Houston Food Bank.

535 Portwall St.
Houston, TX 77029
Contact: 713-223-3700 or [email protected]
The Houston Food Bank distributes food and other essentials to those in need through a network of more than 1,800 community partners. There are multiple ways to give to the Houston Food Bank: Donate funds; donate food; sign up to volunteer your time, either individually or as a group; or send a holiday card benefiting the Houston Food Bank.  

Holiday in the Plaza, Toy Drive  
Sat., Nov. 27, 12-5 p.m.
CityCentre
800 Town & Country Blvd., Houston, TX 77024 
Contact: 713-463-4692; [email protected] 

Holiday in the Plaza

Bring new, unwrapped toys to Holiday in the Plaza at CityCentre, Nov. 27, to be donated to The Salvation Army in exchange for a complimentary photo with Santa. 

Holiday in the Plaza presented by Sewell Cadillac celebrates the holiday season with Santa, holiday classics performed by the Houston Show Choir, and more festive fun. Bring new, unwrapped toys to be donated to The Salvation Army in exchange for a complimentary photo with Santa. Find a list of toys requested here.  

Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular, Toy Drive  
Sat., Dec. 4, 6 p.m.
City Hall/Hermann Square
901 Bagby, Houston, TX 77002
The 2021 Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular rings in the holiday season with live music and the lighting of the official tree. Participate in the World’s Ultimate Toy Drive benefiting Toys for Tots by bringing a new, unwrapped toy to the event.

Christian Community Service Center’s Jingle Bell Express
Various opportunities through Dec. 11
3434 Branard St. Houston, TX 77027
Contact: 713-961-3993
CCSC’s annual Jingle Bell Express event has been designed in a safe, drive-through format. Approximately 2,000 children will receive toys, books, and food assistance for Christmas. There are multiple ways to support Jingle Bell Express: Donate new, unwrapped, nonviolent toys for kids ages 0-15. Deliver toys to CCSC by Dec. 1, 3 p.m. or bring toys to Jingle Bell Express (Bellaire United Methodist Church, 4417 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX 77401) on Dec. 6 or Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Or order toys in advance (before Nov. 27) from CCSC’s Jingle Bell Express 2021 Amazon Wish List to ensure on-time delivery to CCSC.  

Houston Fire Department’s Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive  
Donations accepted through Dec. 15
The Houston Fire Department collects thousands of toys to help families in the Houston area each year. Donate toys or funds here. The Great Toy Giveaway, Dec. 18, will be in a drive-through, first-come, first-serve format. See a schedule of volunteer opportunities here.  

Salvation Army of Greater Houston - Angel Tree Program
1500 Austin St, Houston, TX 77002
Contact: 713-752-0677
Adopt an angel this holiday season by donating gifts to a child in need. Your donated gifts will go directly to the specific Angel you select. Fill out the online registration form for the Angel Tree Program here. To donate items to Salvation Army, see details here. Click here for volunteer opportunities. Make a financial donation here.  

Star of Hope Christmas Needs  
Star of Hope Mission 
4848 Loop Central Dr., Suite 500, Houston, TX 77081
Contact: 713-748-0700
Star of Hope serves homeless individuals and families every day, helping with immediate and longer-term needs. Gift those in need with a meal, shelter, clothes, education; sponsor a child; or gift Christmas presents. See the Christmas Gift Catalog here. See Star of Hope Mission’s Amazon Wish List for distribution to currently-sheltered individuals. Adopt a family for Christmas with the Glad Tidings Christmas Adopt-a-Family program. For details on donating items, see a list of urgent and ongoing needs here.  

Ronald McDonald House’s Home for the Holidays Program 
1907 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030
Contact: [email protected] 
Ronald McDonald House provides a “home away from home” for families whose children are being treated at the Texas Medical Center. RMH’s Home for the Holidays program includes multiple ways to give to families being served at RMH. Volunteer opportunities include filling Santa Sacks and Stockings; supplying and decorating trees for the holidays; organizing, shopping, and wrapping gifts; leading a family activity; and sending a holiday greeting. See details and the Amazon Wish List here.  

Kids’ Meals  
330 Garden Oaks Blvd, Houston, TX 77018
Contact: 713-695-5437 or [email protected]
Kids’ Meals makes and delivers free, healthy meals directly to the homes of children in need. There are several ways to help out this holiday season: Sponsor a Thanksgiving meal here. Adopt a family this Christmas; to participate, email [email protected]. Donate toys and gifts for kids ages toddler through teens, which will be handed out at Kids’ Meals annual Christmas party; to participate, email [email protected]. Decorate bags to spread holiday cheer; see instructions here. Sign up to volunteer (kids ages 8+ are welcome) here.  

Houston Children’s Charity’s Christmas Program  
1600 West Loop South, Suite 610, Houston, TX 77027
Contact: 713-524-2878
Houston Children’s Charity’s Christmas Program provides toys to children who might not otherwise receive any during the holidays. Parents will be invited to shop at a “Toy Store Set Up” for toys for their kids free of charge Dec. 18-21, 2021, at the George R. Brown Convention Center. As part of the Christmas Program, “Adopt-A-Family” provides individuals the opportunity to brighten the holidays for an individual family. Sign up to sponsor a family here. See volunteer opportunities here.  

Editor’s Note: We’ll add to this list as we hear of more opportunities. Comment below or email [email protected] if you know of upcoming opportunities to volunteer or donate this holiday season.

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