Ways to help disadvantaged neighbors this holiday season

Photo courtesy Tanasia A. Reed

Many families have been negatively impacted during this long, unprecedented year, especially in terms of finances, due to the pandemic. According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the unemployment rate in Leon County has increased from 2.8% in October 2019 to 5.1% in October 2020, which leaves more individuals and families in need during the holidays.

Necessities like food, water and clothes are needed more than ever and it is up to members of our community to take charge and give more than receive this holiday season. There are also many families that are unable to afford presents for their children and it takes a village to make even the smallest dreams come true for disadvantaged families. 

There are multiple organizations, charities and community centers increasing their efforts and they all need help from those within our neighborhoods to make this a happy holiday season for all.

Project Annie, Inc.

Project Annie, Inc. is a charity that focuses on serving people who are considered “economically challenged” and “food insufficient,” according to volunteerleon.org. This organization provides a bag of groceries twice a month and serves free hot meals three times a month, as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Volunteers are needed to help cook, assist in the kitchen, and serve food on designated days. For more information on volunteer opportunities and the organization, visit their agency page on volunteer.volunteerleon.org.

The Oasis Center for Women & Girls

The Oasis Center for Women & Girls is a nonprofit organization founded in 2007. It focuses on “personal, professional, and economic concerns facing women, girls, and their families,” according to its website. For their Single Moms Support Group, they are currently accepting new, unwrapped toys for their holiday toy drive. See their website at theoasiscenter.net for more volunteering opportunities and information about the organization.

Kearney Center

The Kearney Center is an emergency service center for impoverished and/or homeless families and individuals in the North Florida region. It accepts monetary contributions and donated items to assist needy individuals and families. Items that are the main priority for the center are disposable face masks, shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, and plastic spray bottles to make individual hand sanitizers for disadvantaged residents at the center. Other items like socks, soap, shaving items, toothbrushes, and menstrual products are also accepted. Fundraisers and coordinated collection drives to buy these items are highly encouraged. For more information on volunteer opportunities and about the center, visit: kearneycenter.org.

The Christmas Connection

Catholic Charities’ Christmas Connection helps families in the Big Bend area by “filling holiday wishes and providing basic necessities to vulnerable families” since 1979, according to their website. Volunteers can help pick up donations and/or host a collection drive for toys, food and/or blankets. Individuals, groups, organizations, and other families in the community can also adopt a family to provide them with gifts for children and other necessities like food, toiletries, and blankets. Gifts and monetary contributions to the organization are accepted, as well. For more information, visit: thechristmasconnection.org.

You can also look on volunteer.volunteerleon.org to find more volunteer opportunities with other organizations and charities.

Volunteers, charities, and community centers are the backbones of our community, as they work tirelessly to help those who are disadvantaged, especially this holiday season. Spend time this year to give your fellow neighbors the gift of hope and joy.