The holiday season is a wonderful time to donate, volunteer your time, and make an impact in the community. Seeking out an opportunity to contribute to your community during the holidays is a wonderful start. Beyond the holiday season, organizations that provide outreach services are often short on volunteers. Consider volunteering this holiday season, and continue the tradition of service throughout the year.
Here are several organizations and volunteer/ donation opportunities in the Tucson area for the 2022 holiday season (and beyond!):
Gospel Rescue Mission
The Gospel Rescue Mission of Tucson serves the community by providing shelter, medical, and other support services. You can volunteer at one of their holiday banquets, choose to adopt a family and/or stuff a stocking, helping to make holiday wishes come true. The Gospel Rescue Mission always appreciates monetary donations ($.85 of every dollar goes towards their mission services), as they strive to maintain continuity in their services. Beyond the holiday opportunities, the GRM also looks to establish long-lasting volunteer relationships with community members- you can read some common FAQs here.
The Salvation Army
The Red Kettle Bell Ringers have helped raise money for the less fortunate since 1891. Their tradition of service is widespread, and you can help in a variety of ways. Beyond donating funds to the Kettle Bell Ringers, you can become a ringer– and volunteer your time in helping the effort. Your place of business can also host a Christmas Angel Giving Tree. This great American tradition provides tags with a child’s gender, age range and toy suggestion to place on your lobby or office Christmas tree. Employees and customers take a tag, buy a gift and return it to the collection box that The Salvation Army provides. You can also adopt a family through The Salvation Army, choosing how many families you would like to partner with, how many children, and even if you would like the opportunity to deliver the gifts to the family directly.
Community Food Bank
The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona responds to the root causes of hunger and seeks to restore dignity, health, opportunity and hope to people living in poverty. You can volunteer as an individual, with your family, as a group from work, or you can host a food drive event. This holiday season, the Community Food Bank has also partnered with another Tucson tradition- the Winterhaven Festival of Lights. From Dec. 10th,- Dec. 26th (6-10p), in the Winterhaven neighborhood (3235 N Country Club Rd, 85716), you can make a donation of non-perishable food items, or donate monetarily. For more information about how you can make a difference by volunteering or donating, please read here.
An often overlooked opportunity to help is by heading down to your area school. The administration and teachers are keenly aware of the needs of their students and can partner with you in finding a way to contribute. It may be that the school has a Christmas wish tree, through which less fortunate students can receive donated gifts. The school may be looking for people to volunteer their time in providing a source of stability and mentorship to the children. You could even check if the school has their own food bank where students are able to pick up a few basics when they are not available at home. Recently, I’ve also read about some schools providing necessities like toiletries and laundry supplies. Lacking such items can impact not only hygiene, but self-esteem, and the ability for children to focus on what is important at school- learning and building lifelong skills.
Toys for Tots
Founded in 1947 by Marine Reservist Major Bill Hendricks, Toys for Tots is run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve. It distributes toys to children whose care takers cannot afford gifts for Christmas. You are able to donate toys in bins found throughout the city (find locations here), drop off donations at their distribution center (read more here), or you can also donate funds online if you are unable to make it to a toy donation drop-off. Last year, over 26,000 toys were distributed in Southern Arizona area, making a huge difference to children over the holiday season.
Casa De Los Niños
Casa de Los Niños was founded in 1973 with an early vision to protect children from child abuse and neglect. Casa de Los Niños provides support services for children and families at risk of abuse, neglect, and crisis. For families in these terrible situations, the holiday season can be especially difficult, as traditions that many of us take for granted, are not even a slight possibility for their families.
You can contribute to their wish list, which includes much needed items like hygiene supplies, books, open-ended toys, craft supplies, sports equipment, and more. Or submit a monetary gift on this page. If you prefer, you can mail checks to:
1120 N. 5th Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85705
All checks should be made out to Casa de los Niños. All financial gifts to Casa de los Niños are tax deductible.
Another unique way to help is to volunteer your skills- are you in the small appliance business, can you repair furniture, or do you excel at customer service? The Casa de los Ninos Thrift Store could benefit from your volunteer hours. Or host an event like a holiday party, where in lieu of gifts, donations are made to Casa de Los Niños. For additional ideas on how to help, please read here.
There is no shortage of opportunities to help others during the holiday season. If you are unable to participate through an organization, look to those immediately around you. A neighbor may need assistance with a task or errand, check with your place of worship for opportunities to help, become a secret Santa for somebody that could use a little boost, or even make a few phone calls and encourage those that are struggling this season. Kindness and generosity exist in forms beyond the tangible; your time, presence, and compassion may make all the difference to somebody this holiday season.