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.
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.
1) Community Wishbook: Here's another source for your adopt-a-family page: http://www.communitywishbook.com. 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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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.
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.
Villa of Hope
Villa of Hope, whose main campus is located at 3300 Dewey Ave in Rochester, has a program called Villa of Hope’s Holiday Wishes. Villa of Hope’s Holiday Wishes program relies on the goodwill and support of the local community each year at holiday time to fulfill the wish lists of the youth and families we serve in order to give them a holiday celebration that they may not otherwise be able to experience. How can you be a part of something that does so much for families in our area? Visit any of our participating locations - led by our partners Starbucks and Summit Federal Credit Union - and pick up a tag. Purchase some (or all!) of the gifts listed on the tag and return to the location in a bag with the tag stapled to it. It's that easy!
If you are unable to make it to Starbucks or Summit Federal Credit Union, or you are not a fan of shopping, you can easily make a secure online donation on this web site.
Hillside Children's Center
Hillside Special Santa is the holiday giving program for Hillside Family of Agencies. This program benefits youth and families who receive residential, community-based, day treatment and/or customized services. Many families of these youth find themselves in need of assistance during the holiday season. As a result of the continuous dedication and generosity of the communities in which our services are offered, the Hillside Special Santa program is able to collaborate with staff and families to provide 3 gifts to each of the youth receiving services, as well as any of their siblings or children residing in that home.
Thank you to all the wonderful donors, community partners and volunteers who help make the holiday season extra special for the youth and families served by the Hillside Special Santa program.
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 website 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 www.raihn.org 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 Info@IrondequoitCommunityCupboard.org. You can check out the website for more information at www.irondequoitcommunitycupboard.org.
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 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.