Tis’ the season for spreading kindness. Portland has plenty of opportunities to volunteer year-round, and the Christmas season is no exception. There are many organizations that urge people to donate their time, gifts/gift cards, or clothing during this time of year. Below is a list of organizations and how to reach them. 

Trillium Family Services is asking for gifts for kiddos between the ages of 5 and 17. Unfortunately, the holiday gift drop off day was on December 11th, but they do have an Amazon wish list.

Volunteers of America – Oregon also has a wish list for their clients who are men, women, and children. They pride themselves on helping the most vulnerable; everyone who needs help from the youngest to the oldest. They are located around 39th and Stark and ask that you reach out to their team member, Adam, before dropping off wish list items. He can be reached at 503-595-2027. 

Catholic Charities helps refugees who are new to the U.S. settle into new homes. They need basic household items to help families with their transition. To learn more, email their staff member, Lauren, at lwelch@ccoregon.org.

Social Justice Action Center helps people who are currently houseless and living outside. They need 1) hygiene items such as soap/shampoo/conditioner, 2) warm gear such as gloves, hats, scarfs, mittens, 3) PPE such as hand sanitizer and first aid items, and 3) warm drink items and equipment such as bowls, spoons, cups, hot cocoa, tea, and coffee. There are two options to help: drop off during designated hours or email the organization to arrange a drop off at either: hygienestationpdx@gmail.com / socialjusticeactioncenter@gmail.com. The designated drop off hours and days are Friday and Saturday from 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. and Sundays from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. 

Christmas Family Adoption Foundation is an organization that provides gifts and meals for vulnerable families. I was surprised to see there is an option to “search for available families” to help. There were about 20 families listed, only one of them provided a picture. The organization asks that people either provide wrapped gifts to donate or purchase a gift card for the family to have a nice holiday meal. Further, the organization asks whether you would like to get in contact with the family and drop things off yourself: or if you would like the CFAF to do it. Very cool opportunity. I like that they try to connect people directly to the vulnerable families.

Street Roots is a non-profit organization that aims to aid houseless people with cold weather items. They need hats, gloves, socks. They accept donations on Mon/Wed/Thur/Fri between 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at their office around NW Davis street, and have a wish list on Amazon.

Christmas for Kids is a way to donate to a vulnerable child whether it is a one-time donation, or a monthly donation. Unfortunately, I am late in finding this opportunity – there was an option to “shop with a child” in need at Hollywood Fred Meyer on December 2nd. I will definitely get signed up for next year. Donations are still being accepted though.

Salvation Army has something called the “Angel Tree”. The Angel Tree aims to help low-income residents of varied counties in Oregon with new clothing and toys. There are options to have an angel tree in your business to collect donations for the Salvation Army, or there are links to donate via wish lists on Walmart and Amazon.

Toy and Joy Makers is an organization that is based at every Portland Fire Station during the holiday season. Toy donations can be dropped off at any fire station in Portland or the Portland toy and joy office.

Outside In is an organization that helps the underserved homeless population with a focus on people of color and Portland’s LGBTQIA community. There is a donate form on their website. 

Toys for Tots has many options to help. You can donate a toy in person or online or become a “drop-off site” to accept donations. There is a helpful chart that lists what sites are available on what days in your local area. They also have an Amazon wish list.

Donating toys and gifts is such an important holiday tradition. Not only does it help the families and kiddos in need, but it provides privileged kids with exposure to people who are impoverished. It is important for kids to know that not everyone has a home, food, clothing, or gifts on the holidays. By taking gifts to a drop off site, kids are learning to use their time and resources to help others. The kiddos who are experiencing poverty are dependent on these donations and it is important that people remember that during the holidays, and all year-round. Best of luck to you all in practicing empathy by taking your time and resources to donate this year.