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Five ways to help families for the holidays

Ashley Morales



Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 209 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories. Photo: Samaritan's Purse

If you’re searching for a way to give back to your community, the Catalyst’s Impact Connector is here to help. Each week, we feature five organizations in the Tampa Bay area that need your help, whether that’s time, talent, items, funding or simply awareness. We’re certain you’ll find something here that matches your interests and will positively impact the community.

Help needy families ‘shop’ for gifts  

YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg is once again teaming up with the community to bring the spirit of Christmas to 419 families and more than 900 children. For more than 30 years, the YMCA Neighbor to Neighbor Christmas Program This year, program coordinators say they especially need help  Dec. 12 and 14. Participating families will visit the Childs Park YMCA and YMCA at Lealman Exchange to collect free toys from our toy room. In addition, families will receive a sports voucher for each child. Volunteers are needed to set up, help families shop, organize toy displays and clean up. Learn more at

Purchase gifts for children in the hospital

All Kids’ Wonderland is an annual event that offers a free shopping experience set up at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital for families unable to make it out to regular stores while helping their child cope with illness. All of the gifts are provided through the generosity of volunteers and community donors. To donate, purchase items through the Child Life Amazon Wish List to have toys shipped directly to the hospital and minimize handling. All toys should be delivered by Dec. 9. Cash donations are also accepted, which allows the Child Life team to shop for goods for specific populations throughout the year.

Send toys to children overseas

Every year, Operation Christmas Child sends gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 100 countries, including many who are suffering from war, poverty, disease and disaster. There is still time to share hope and love with children overseas by packing a gift-filled shoebox online. Shoeboxes built online go to some of the hardest-to-reach areas in the world. Those who prefer the convenience of online shopping can browse to select gifts matched to a child’s specific age and gender, then finish packing the virtual shoebox by adding a photo and personal note of encouragement.

Help children of all religious backgrounds enjoy the holidays

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (JFCS) is a non-sectarian, community-based nonprofit that has been serving Floridians since 1974. In 2022, JFCS collected nearly 10,000 toys and gift cards for children. The organization has many programs and opportunities to make sure every child in our area has a happy holiday season, no matter how they celebrate. Get the details here.

Support a holiday toy drive in Lealman

By engaging in these five impactful ways to give back, we can empower our communities and contribute to a more compassionate society. If your organization is seeking volunteers, donations or awareness, click here to submit your opportunity. We’ll get the word out to our readers.

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