Holiday Charity / Volunteer / Giving Opportunities in greater Rochester | Kids Out and About Rochester

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Holiday Charity / Volunteer / Giving Opportunities in greater Rochester

This is our traditional list of holiday giving opportunities for families who want to be especially generous during the holiday season. Many of opportunities require verification, so be sure to do so before donating.

Pirate Toy Fund Drive

The Pirate Toy Fund's annual drive matches needy kids in the greater Rochester area with your donated toys. Collecting all through December and into January. Please drop off a new, unwrapped toy. Locations are at Eastview Mall, Marketplace Mall, and the Mall at Greece Ridge as well as boxes at Wegmans Food Markets.

Note: Please contact each organization to which you are planning to dontate to ensure they are still accepting donations; these opportunities sometimes change without notice. Please email us if you encounter a discrepancy in this list and we will respond promptly. Thank you.

Volunteers of America of Western New York

Volunteers of America has many ways that a family can be involved to help those in need in the Rochester community.

Flower City Habitat for Humanity

Flower City Habitat for Humanity has families to adopt.

Wilson Commencement Park

Wilson Commencement Park also accepts donations of new toys. They allow their families to 'purchase' the toys at a greatly discounted price thereby helping the families preserve some sense of honor and giving them a choice for their kids.


"Adopt" one of the hundreds of women taking part in the YWCA’s Housing or Young Parents programs and shop for wish-list items such as warm winter clothing for her and her children. Or take part in their "shoebox" program. Click here for YWCA donation details.

St. Joseph's Villa

St. Joseph's Villa (Caring for Kids in Crisis), whose main campus is located at 3300 Dewey Ave in Rochester, has a program called St. Joseph's iWish Holiday Wish program. St. Joseph’s Villa is asking the community for help in fulfilling the holiday wishes of more than 500 boys and girls in the care of its residential, community preventive, chemical dependency and eating disorder programs this season. For these children, the holidays can be a source of stress and sadness, and the Villa depends on support from individuals, groups and businesses to meet their needs and brighten their lives. This year, the greatest need is for cash donations, which enable the Villa to do the shopping and direct money to where needs are greatest. 100% of your donation will benefit the children. Larger contributions help to sponsor entire cottages and group homes with meals, decorations, a tree, gifts and stockings. Cash donations may be made by calling the Holiday Line at 581-4620.

Hillside Children's Center

Hillside children's center has a Special Santa program every year that helps children and their families with gifts and food gift certificates.

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a place that you can give shoe boxes filled with gifts and drop them off to certain locations and they are wrapped and delivered all across the globe. There are three main drop-off locations for shoe boxes in the greater Rochester area, although those are only operative the week before Thanksgiving. You can still mail your shoe box; click the web site for details.

Alternatives for Battered Women

Alternatives for Battered Women exists to enhance the quality of life and empower individuals affected by or at risk of domestic violence. You can adopt a family. The ABW wish list is here. Phone number is (585) 232-5200 ext. 224.

Bivona Child Advocacy Center

Bivona Child Advocacy Center is a safe, welcoming place where children who have been sexually or physically abused can begin their journey of healing. Bivona Child Advocacy Center is the only agency in the Greater Rochester community to provide these services. Each child that comes to Bivona for services leaves with a stuffed animal or blanket. Because Bivona Child Advocacy Center sees over 1,000 children each year, donations of these items are greatly appreciated. For more information please contact (585) 935-7800. To see our entire wish list, click here.

RAIHN (Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network)

RAIHN provides temporary shelter, meals and case management to homeless families. Local faith organizations host the families for a week at a time, providing them with an evening meal and a place to sleep, usually air mattresses in a Sunday school classroom. Many area shelters don’t allow men or boys, but RAIHN is able to keep families together. RAIHN's families can use: Arts and Crafts kits for 11-to-13-yr-olds, sports equipment (basketball/football, pump), warm socks (all kinds/sizes), boxed nonbreakable ornaments/garland. All items can be dropped off at 34 Meigs St., Rochester. Since RAIHN is temporary housing, the ages and number of kids in the program can change quite often, so their needs are always different. More information can be found at or by calling 585-506-9050.

Unverified recommendations from readers, but still may present good opportunities. Please contact us if these need to be altered or removed.

Ronald McDonald House

I am a KOA reader and am also employed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester. We have a "Holiday House" program where we send you a "Ronald McDonald" House" which has (10) cut out windows and doors. Behind each window is a gift that our families and/or the Ronald McDonald House can use. No gift exceeds $20. For more information, contact Kim Palumbo, at 442-5437, ext. 2011.

Irondequoit Community Cupboard

Irondequoit Community Cupboard distributes Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets. Looks like the deadline for Christmas signups may have already passed, but it's probably worth checking out (see especially their how to help page). If you are interested in sponsoring a family or making a holiday donation you can call 336-9107 or email You can check out the website for more information at

Society for the Protection and Care of Children

From a KOA reader:One not-for-profit agency that my MOMS Club of Irondequoit has donated to and have done a fundraiser for is SPCC - the Society for the Protection and Care for Children. The agency works with children and families that are in the most of need and dealing with domestic abuse. The holidays are toughest for these families as many cannot afford gifts, and the children ask for so little. Each year, they sponsor a Teddy Bear Project, in which SPCC will give you a teddy bear that describes a child and his/her wish list for you to choose from. You may choose one or more items from their list. The suggested gifts cost are usually less than $25.00. You can sponsor an entire family; in those cases, they seek donors interested in creating a holiday for an entire family. (Many times, groups of people join together to sponsor a family.) To help or for more information, call 585-325-6101, ext. 0.

Bethany House of Rochester

Bethany House is a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality serving homeless women and children. It provides emergency housing; assistance with food, formula, diapers, clothing, household items, personal hygiene products; a drop in center; weekly women’s group meetings; prayer groups; a daily lunch open to the community; on-site referrals to requested agencies; assistance with accessing services through the Department of Social Services; housing and job searching to women and children.Families can sponsor families at the holidays. Donna Ecker is the person to speak with (at least she was in 2009). Contact number is 585-454-4197.

Dimitri House

Dimitri House has an Adopt-a-family program for Christmas. You can request the size of the family that you will adopt. The parameters are that you purchase (at least) one gift per child and groceries for the family's holiday dinner. You can contact the family ahead of time to determine what they need/like for the dinner and gifts, sizes, food allergies, etc. You also have the option of delivering these items to the family. The contact phone number for Dimitri House is 325-1796.

Spiritus Christi Church

Spiritus Christi Church does adopt-a-family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Phone is 585-325-1180.


Additional Advice

1) Community Wishbook: Here's another source for your adopt-a-family page: It doesn't have adopt-a-family programs, per se, but it does list the needs and wishes of a host of community organizations, so people can select agencies that are important to them and design their own holiday drive/gift baskets/whatever. It's a nice way to help some of the lesser-known groups.

2) Every church just about has a Giving Tree of one sort or another. Malls have them, also. There are "ornaments" you take off the trees that have Holiday Wishes on them for certain families and/or individuals. My church gets families from the local Department of Social Services. Almost all the charitable organizations including the Rotary and Red Cross have one variation or another of a program where by one can "adopt" a family or an individual.

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