By Taryn Tacher
The holiday season is here. Neighbors are decking out their front yards with string lights and plastic figurines. Moms are baking gingerbread cookies and frying up latkes. The smell of pine needles is lingering from the ornately adorned tree in the living room, and the candles on the menorah are illuminating the windows. The remnants of wrapping paper rolls are coiled haphazardly in the closet, and loose ribbons are trailing out from beneath the door.
But the cheeriest time of year is not all about presents, pine trees, Santa Claus and sweets. What makes the holiday season so wonderful is the giving spirit so many people exemplify. This year, embrace the holidays by enriching the lives of others in your community and all over the world. Below are some ways to can give back here in Alachua County.
Miracle on Main Street
The Junior League of Gainesville hosts a “toy sale” every year for families who are unable to purchase holiday gifts for their children. Participating families come to the Miracle on Main Street toy sale with their voucher on the first Saturday of December and peruse the warehouse to select gifts for their children. You can help by sponsoring a toy for $30, a bicycle for $60 or a family for $120. You can also donate new or gently used toys or bikes to contribute to the warehouse. For more information, visit Gainesvillejrleague.org.
Wish Upon a Star Holiday Gift Drive
Every year, Partnership for Strong Families orchestrates a gift drive that benefits children in the foster care system and those who have abusive or neglectful living situations. The children make wish lists, and the Wish Upon a Star Holiday Gift Drive aims to fulfill every one of those wishes. You can help by sponsoring a child’s wish list and supplying them with the gifts they requested. For more information and to become a sponsor, visit Pfsf.org.
Toys for Tots
During the holiday season, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve collects new and unwrapped toys for children in need. You can help by donating toys to spread joy to underprivileged children. For more information and to find the drop-off location closest to you, visit Toysfortots.org.
The Salvation Army Angel Tree Program provides holiday gifts to children in need. You can help by sponsoring a child and donating the items on their wish list. For more information, visit Salvationarmyflorida.org.
Operation Christmas Child
This seasonal project, run by the Samaritan’s Purse, lls shoeboxes with toys, school supplies and toiletries to send to children around the world who are in need. You can help out by donating shoeboxes and/or items and by volunteering to ll boxes. For more information and to nd the drop-off location closest to you, visit Samaritanspurse.org.