People are in need year-round, but people tend to find themselves wanting to help others more around the holidays. There are so many ways to help in the CSRA. It might be time for you and your family to make helping others a holiday tradition — if you don’t do that already.
Children’s Hospital of Georgia: donation drive
The Children’s Hospital in downtown Augusta will have large bins in the main lobby between Monday, Dec. 18, through Friday, Dec. 22. Most of the items donated will be used as Christmas gifts, but what doesn’t get used at Christmas will be used throughout the year to fill hospital playrooms, in the DinoStore (where kids having surgery can pick out a toy), for birthdays and for prizes. The list of needed items includes: rattles for babies (it’s a big need); infant toys (especially things that light up and make noise); Rock-N-Stack Rings; shape sorters; Fisher Price animal puzzles; Fisher Price school buses or airplanes with people; Fisher Price doctor sets; board games like “Candy Land” and “Chutes and Ladders”; card games (regular playing cards, and especially UNO; hand-held games like Bop It and Simon Air; and virtual reality goggles like Dream Vision. The Children’s Hospital of Georgia is at 1446 Harper Street in Augusta. Call 706-721-5437.
Jim Hudson Lexus: donation drive
Each year, this store hosts 15 Gifts of Christmas, a large donation drive that runs for a month through Dec. 15. All donations must be brand new. Jim Hudson Lexus is collecting toys for all ages for the James Brown Family Foundation, Bridge Ministries and New Bethlehem Community Center; board games and stuffed animals for the James Brown Family Foundation and Child Enrichment; toothpaste for Rape Crisis, Grace House and Augusta Warrior Project; washcloths for Rape Crisis; laundry detergent for ACTS Aiken; Kleenex (small packs and boxes) for ACTS Aiken, Rape Crisis and Lydia Project; paper towels for the Ronald McDonald House and ACTS Aiken; hardback story books for kindergartners through fifth-graders for Communities in Schools; diapers for Communities in Schools and the Hope House; spiral notebooks for Grace House and Hope House; adult coloring books, children’s coloring books, colored pencils and crayons for SafeHomes; disinfectant wipes for the Ronald McDonald House; healthy snacks for Bridge Ministry, New Bethlehem Community Center and Augusta Warrior Project; children’s socks for New Bethlehem Community Center; and pencils and pens for Hope House and Lydia Project. The Augusta Warrior Project also needs gas gift cards because of transportation issues for their clients. Jim Hudson Lexus is at 3520 Washington Road in Martinez. Call 706-650-9999.
Grace House Augusta: donation drive
Grace House Augusta, a drug and alcohol treatment center for women, takes donations throughout the year. Most of the women who go there come in with nothing, so for the holidays this year, they are seeking gift cards to places like Walmart and Target so that they can buy what suits them, whether it’s personal hygiene items or job interview clothes. Grace House also accepts items like notebooks, socks, lotion, lip balm and more. Call 912-258-9939.
ACTS Aiken: Community Christmas Store
ACTS stands for “Area Churches Together Serving,” and the Aiken location partners with First Presbyterian Church to create an affordable place where low-income people can shop for new toys, clothing and other gifts for Christmas. The store will be open from Dec. 4 through Dec. 8, by appointment only. The store will need donations of all kinds of new items, especially teen-size and husky jeans. Volunteer opportunities are available, to help with pricing and bundling items and to assist shoppers with finding things and with gift-wrapping items. The Christmas store will be located in the ACTS Resale Store at 401 Hayne Ave., in Aiken. Call 803-649-3800 to find out more.
James Brown Family Foundation: James Brown Toy Giveaway
This annual tradition will be taking place at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 22. Donors can give on the website at jamesbrownfamilyfdn.org, and there will also be two toy drives in December — bring new, unwrapped toys to Walmart on Deans Bridge Road from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 2 and to Walmart in North Augusta from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 9. The James Brown Family Foundation will accept donations for the toy giveaway through Dec. 21. Call 803-640-2090.
Bridge Ministry of the CSRA: donation drive and volunteering
This nonprofit organization helps inner-city poor and homeless people 50 Saturdays a year under the Calhoun Expressway on 15th Street. Just a couple of days before Christmas, on Dec. 23, the organization will be providing nearly 1,000 Christmas meals to those in need, as well as 600 gift bags for adults and 300 gift bags for children. Needed items include socks, hats, gloves, scarves, hygiene products, candy, snacks and toys for babies on up to 12-year-olds. The deadline for receiving gifts is Dec. 20 at the warehouse at 715 S. Old Belair Road in Grovetown. Volunteers may show up under the bridge to help out on Dec. 23 by 11 a.m. Call 706-210-5711.
Child Enrichment (Child Advocacy Center): donation drive
Child Enrichment works tirelessly to help abused children, and they are in need of donations for their clothing closet throughout the year. Bring your new and gently used clothing donations to their location at 2300 Walden Drive in Augusta. Right now, they are in need of teen-size winter wear like coats, hats and gloves, and they especially need donations for teen boys. The organization also takes monetary donations, socks, underwear, and basically anything you need at your home and office. There also are many volunteer opportunities. Visit childenrichment.org or call 706-737-4631.
Communities in Schools: donation drives and volunteering
This organization works inside schools with students from kindergarten to 12th grade, helping build relationships with students to help them with school and prepare them for life beyond. For the holidays, the organization is gathering donations of toys and books for boys and girls ages 5-12. The gifts must be modest (no electronics, bicycles, iPads, etc.). Deadline for the gift donation is Dec. 11 — call 706-550-7716 for drop-off location. And all year round, the organization helps struggling families and students with unmet needs — Communities in Schools is looking for donations of gift cards in increments of less than $50, and these can include VISA and MasterCard gift cards or cards to grocery stores, Walmart, Big Lots and dollar stores. You also can donate school supplies, food, transportation, clothes, coats, shoes, glasses, adaptive aids and child care. Communities in Schools also helps teenaged mothers and takes boxes of diapers (newborn and up), nonperishable baby food items and baby clothes. For more information on donations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 706-550-7716. And volunteers can help out with things like reading to children, helping them with basic education skills and high school math. To find out more about volunteer needs, email email@example.com or call 706-550-7716. Visit communitiesinschools.org.
Golden Harvest Food Bank: volunteering
The food bank serves a hot lunch to about 300 people in need every day of the year, and they need volunteers to help provide that lunch. Volunteer needs include greeting guests, prepping and serving food, cleaning as well as playing music or offering a blessing for the meal. Five to 10 people are needed daily from 8:30 a.m. to noon for kitchen and meal prep (you must be at least 18 to work in the kitchen). Younger volunteers can get in the action, too, though — 10 to 16 dining room service and clean-up volunteers are needed from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and they can be 13 and older. Register online at goldenharvest.org/volunteer/opportunities or call 706-736-1199.
Toys for Tots: donation drive
Toys for Tots is one of the most well-known holiday season toy drives, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve collects new, unwrapped toys to give to less fortunate children in the same community where the toys are collected. Toys R Us is one of many drop-off locations for Toys for Tots; find more by visiting toysfortots.org and clicking on “Find local toy drop-off information” and selecting your state and county. There also are volunteer opportunities with work at the local warehouse, which you can find at the website.