Charities aim to help homeless

The holidays are here again.

For many people this time of year means quality time with family, friends, food, presents and good times.

Unfortunately for some Tallahasseans, Christmas won’t entail most of these things.

Several local community services are helping to change that.

“Our biggest goal is to meet their holiday need,” said Cheryl Phillips, a commanding officer at the Salvation Army on West Virginia Street. “Maybe it can help them to get back on their feet.”

Phillips said The Salvation Army is providing less-fortunate families in Tallahassee with food baskets, which will include meat and all the fixings for a Christmas dinner.

Aside from providing dinners, The Salvation Army is participating in Toys for Tots with the Marines and a Sharing Tree distribution, for children and families to receive gifts.

The Sharing Tree distribution is at Governors Square Mall and ornaments contain the Christmas wishes of a child.

“All of these children are very, very needy,” said Phillips. “What we like to see for every child is one outfit and a gift.”

According to Phillips, The Salvation Army serves 646 families and 1252 children in Leon and Wakulla counties.

“We have to pay for gifts and it gets really costly,” Phillips said.

Meanwhile, at Meals On Wheels on Tennessee Street, help for the holidays are also offered.

“On the holidays we try to make them nice for our regular clients with groceries and gifts,” said Kathleen Richards, the assistant to the president at Meals On Wheels.

Richards said, beginning next week there will be a Christmas tree set up with ornaments containing the names, ages and families of people who need help for Christmas.

Richards said there is a list of things that people can donate in order to help.

“We try to make sure that we can do as much as we can for our population,” said Richards.

Aside from Christmas dinner and gifts, the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, which aids homeless men, also provides spiritual curriculum.

“We offer more spiritual Christian programs and we have a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol,” said Daniel Berg, who works the front desk at the Haven of Rest Rescue Mission.

Berg said during the holidays they try to bring piece and joy to the people they assist.

“We offer a warm place where they can stay and feel like they are at home,” Berg said.

At Thanksgiving, the Haven feed nearly 150 people who came from off the streets and at Christmas they are expecting to feed as many, if not more than that, Berg said.

Phillips also said volunteers are needed to help with the holiday season.

“We need help because we have so many different projects going on and we are extremely busy,” Phillips said. “A lot of people like to get together through businesses and organizations to contribute.”

Ryanne Persinger can be reached at