Thursday, 03 December 2015 23:33

Where to Donate: How to Help Those in Need this Holiday Season

Written by  Jacqueline Bull
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Toys for Tots Toys for Tots

No matter where you live in West Michigan, there are local and national charities looking for people to get involved — or even just open their wallets. These do-gooders often seek some combination of donations of money, toys, food, supplies and/or time — do you have any of those? If so, here are just a few ways to bring some cheer to those in need.

Toys for Tots, (616) 322-8322
Money, Toys

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve founded Toys for Tots in 1947 and has since helped countless families celebrate Christmas. The organization has drop-off sites all over the United States and collects from October to mid-December. People can donate new, unwrapped toys — which are collected and distributed to local children. Visit and click “Toy Drop-Offs” to find the donation bins nearest you.

God’s Kitchen Meal Program
303 Division Ave., Grand Rapids, (616) 456-1443

Catholic Charities’ God’s Kitchen program is seeking volunteers to help serve meals from Dec. 24-Jan. 2. Bring the kids, too — volunteers as young as 11 can get involved if they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian. This type of event brings volunteers face to face with the people they are helping.

Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank
864 West River Center Dr., Comstock Park, (616) 784-3250
Food, Money, Time

Food banks provide sustenance year round. This food bank provides meals for an estimated 492,100 individuals each year in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. According to its website, every dollar donated can provide four meals. The bank distributes food to other anti-hunger groups as well as its own mobile pantries. Click the “donate” tab on their site to contribute nutritious meals to struggling families.

Volunteers of America: Adopt A Family, (248) 353-4962

Adopt a Family has served Michigan since 1993, connecting people that want to sponsor the elderly or families with children. Last year it served over 9,000 unique individuals. Sponsors connect with one family and provide gifts of toys, clothes and a holiday meal. For those not able to do a direct adopt, the organization also accepts cash donations.

Community Action House
345 W 14th St., Holland, (616) 392-2368
Food, Money, Time

According to Community Action House’s mission statement, it seeks “[To] provide area families and individuals with food, clothing, shelter and the opportunity to build necessary skills to achieve a stable and prosperous life.” This organization offers a full range of assistance to struggling families, including: Food and personal care items, education and foreclosure prevention. Community Action House has a variety of ways to get involved, from volunteering opportunities to employer matching gift programs. Visit its website and click “donate” to make a PayPal contribution.

Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth
235 Straight Ave. NW Grand Rapids, (616) 233.9370
Money, Time, Supplies

The Boys and Girls Club, at a few different locations, focuses its efforts on young people by providing fun and enriching community experiences. It also provides meals and snacks to the children as well as tutoring for school. The club’s after school programs are also seeking donations of art supplies, board games, school supplies and gifts for camp. Put that mouse on the “Donate Now” or “Volunteer” tab to get involved.

Family Promise of Grand Rapids
516 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 475-5220
Money, Time, Supplies

Family Promise of Grand Rapids works with homeless families and at-risk families to help them with housing assistance and other services to provide security. It guides families through the process of finding new housing or support to stay in their housing. In addition to monetary donations and volunteers, this organization is seeking necessities like clothes, cleaning supplies, housewares and toiletries.

Access of West Michigan’s
Holiday Giving Network
1700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, (616) 774-2175
Money, Food, Time

Access of West Michigan’s Holiday Giving Network “matches individuals or groups directly to Kent County families who are in need of holiday food.” In 2014, over 7,000 families signed on to accept a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. You can provide dinner items directly to your matched family, give grocery gift cards or money, or hold your own food drive and donate the goods.

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