Holiday helpers are turning up in all corners of the Columbia area, as many service agencies, civic groups, businesses, churches and others are holding seasonal drives.
Many are seeking a helping hand from the community to help brighten the season for those in need. Here is a sampling of opportunities to give, support or volunteer in the coming weeks.
HONOR THE DREAM FOOD DRIVE: The city of Columbia and the Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation will be collecting non-perishable food items Monday through Jan. 3 at these locations: City Hall, 1737 Main St.; Charles R. Drew Wellness Center, 2101 Walker Solomon Way; City Water Customer Service, Washington Square, 1339 Main St.; City Human Resources Office, 1225 Lady St.; James E. Clyburn Golf Center, 2091 Slighs Ave.; Columbia Tennis Center, 1635 Whaley St;. and all city parks and recreation sites. Donations will be presented to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Call (803) 545-3100.
MEALS ON WHEELS SUPPORT: The Lexington County Recreation & Aging Commission is collecting canned goods and nonperishable food items to be distributed to congregate and homebound Meals on Wheels recipients in December. To participate in the drive or if interested in being a drop-off site, call (803) 356-5111. All canned food items may be delivered to the Gilbert Senior Center, 409 Broad St., by Dec. 6; or call before Dec. 6 to make arrangements for pick-up.
Toy and clothing drives
ANGEL TREES: The Salvation Army is seeking donors for its Angel Trees through Dec. 8 at Columbia Place Mall, 7201 Two Notch Road and Columbiana Centre, 100 Columbiana Circle. Children are represented by angels with their Christmas wishes and clothing sizes available as gift ideas and suggestions. Volunteers at each site will help select children collect donations. (803) 309-6435
HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE KICK-OFF: 4-6 p.m. Wednesday at Southeastern Institute, 1420 Colonial Life Blvd. West, Suite 80. Children and guests will enjoy a visit with Santa, a coloring station to create holiday wishes for service members and veterans and refreshments. Free, each guest is asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for a child of a military family in need. The toy drive will continue on campus through Dec. 13 and is being held in partnership with Operation Homefront. (803) 798-8800
STAR TREE ADOPT-A-CHILD: Stop by the West Columbia Fire Department lobby, 610 N. 12th St. from 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through Dec. 18. Choose a star-shaped ornament bearing a needy child’s name, age and gender. Buy the child a gift, wrap it and use the ornament as a label. Santa will deliver the gifts at the annual Christmas party which will feature food, games and entertainment for the children. Sponsored by the West Columbia Community Empowerment Center.
TOYS FOR TOTS STUFF THE JAIL WAGON: The Chapin Police Department and Boland’s True Value are holding a toy drive at the store, 745 Chapin Road, Chapin from 9 a.m.- noon Dec. 14. Residents are asked to place a new, unwrapped present for infants through age 18 in the old horse-drawn jail wagon and see Santa and Mrs. Claus. (803) 345-1336 or (803) 345-6443
HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE: Be a Santa to a Senior is a program that collects, wraps and delivers gifts to lonely and needy seniors in Richland and Lexington counties through Dec. 13. Trees are located at several area stores and businesses — Pink Sorbet, 2726 Devine St.; Chick-fil-A, 229 Bush River Road; and seven area Starbucks locations. (747 Saluda Ave., 4840 Forest Drive, 6080-A Garners Ferry Road, 100 Columbiana Circle, 163-8 Forum Drive, 831 Gervais St., and 276 Harbison Blvd.). Each tree will feature ornaments with seniors’ first names and their gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament from these trees, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped to the tree, with the ornament attached. The gifts will be delivered to seniors Dec. 17. (803) 736-4242
LEXINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: The Lexington Police Department is serving as Toys for Tots and Harvest Hope Food Bank collection points. Area residents can drop off a new, unwrapped toy at the department’s offices in the Lexington Municipal Complex, 111 Maiden Lane through Dec. 12. Residents also are invited to stuff the SWAT van at the following dates and times at these locations — Walmart, 5556 Sunset Blvd.; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday and 3-6 p.m. Dec. 10; Kmart, 748 W. Main St.: 9 a.m.-noon Thursday and Dec. 12; (803) 359-6022
COLUMBIA CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB TOY DRIVE: The club will be collecting new, unwrapped gifts from noon-4 p.m. Dec. 14 at Woodberry Plaza, U.S. 1, West Columbia to support the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s holiday assistance efforts. (803) 606-0509
LEXINGTON 1 COAT DRIVE: Zebra Cleaners is sponsoring the inaugural coat drive for students in need in Lexington 1. Gently worn coats of all sizes, children’s and adults, may be dropped off through Dec. 15 at either Zebra location, 2361 Augusta Highway, Lexington (near Lexington High School) or 101 Ivy Park Lane, Lexington; or at Restore Hope Ministry, 4810 Augusta Highway, Gilbert. The garments will be cleaned and the district’s social workers will distribute them to students. Call Connie McFarland, the Lexington 1 Educational Foundation’s executive director, at (803) 821-1008.
SHARE THE WARMTH: Mast General Store and Columbia Sportswear are holding a coat, sweater and blanket drive through Saturday. Donations will support the Oliver Gospel Mission and Hannah House. Drop off gently worn, clean coats, jackets, sweaters, gloves, hats and even blankets at the Mast Store, 1601 Main St. (803) 771-2300
ADOPT A CHILD FOR CHRISTMAS: The Recreation Therapy Department of Three Rivers Midlands Campus, a residential treatment center for adolescents and children from 6-18, is seeking churches or businesses to help one of the facility’s 59 children who will not be able to go home for the holidays. Each resident has filled out a wish list of the things they would like for Christmas. If you would like to adopt a child or participate in a campus-wide gift, call Wilhemina Addison Harrell or Lisha Morant, (803) 791-9918, ext. 4218 or 4509.
HOLIDAY FOOD AND TOY DRIVE: The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department is accepting donations of non-perishable food items; new, unwrapped toys and new, unwrapped clothing for the agency’s annual event for Lexington County residents in need. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 20 at these drop-off points: the Lexington County Law Enforcement Complex, 521 Gibson Road, Lexington; North Region Service Center, 111 Lincreek Drive, Columbia; South Region Service Center, 102 Airport Road, Pelion; and West Region Patrol District Headquarters, 4079-B Augusta Highway, Gilbert. You can also bring your donations to the holiday drop-in, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Squad Room at 521 Gibson Road. Light refreshments will be served and Santa will be present to speak with children. Call Lt. Kevin Blackmon at (803) 785-2411.
SHARE THE LOVE: Senior Resources’ Meals on Wheels holiday card campaign is under way. For a $5 donation in honor or memory of a loved one or friend, a senior adult will receive a meal and a visit during the holiday season. Designees will be mailed a Meals on Wheels holiday card, letting them know you have donated a heartfelt gift of a nutritious meal in their honor. (803) 252-7734, ext. 256.
COATS FOR KIDS: The Lexington County Sheriff’s Department resident deputies and code enforcement officers will accept donations of new or lightly used winter coats, gloves and hats for Lexington County children in need of assistance. Drop-off locations (beginning Monday) include the Lexington County Law Enforcement Complex, 521 Gibson Road, Lexington; North Region Service Center, 111 Lincreek Drive, Columbia; South Region Service Center, 102 Airport Road, Pelion; West Region Patrol District Headquarters, 4079-B Augusta Highway, Gilbert; Tri-City Leisure Center, 485 Brooks Ave., West Columbia; Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane, Columbia; and Crooked Creek Park, 1098 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin. Donations will be delivered to Lexington Interfaith Community Services on Dec.18 for distribution. Three Fountains resident deputy Stacey Gadson is coordinating the effort, contact him at (803) 785-0801 or email email@example.com
THE GIVING TREE: Palmetto Health and the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation are co-sponsoring The Giving Tree for sickle-cell patients and their siblings. Residents are asked to bring new, unwrapped toys for children newborn through age 16 to the foundation, 1420 Gregg St., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. The deadline to purchase gifts is Dec. 20. For more information or to have items picked up, call Regina Brown, (803) 296-2961 or the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, (803) 765-9916.
COAT AND TOY DRIVE: Bible Way Church of Atlas Road is collecting new or gently used coats and toys through Thursday for community members in need. Volunteers are also needed to help with the drive. To volunteer or donate, contact Keisha Bell at (803) 776-2936.
HOLIDAY HELPINGS AND HOPE PROGRAM: Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is looking for volunteers to help alleviate some of the holiday stress for families of children with cancer or a blood disorder. Children’s Hospital provides wish lists (submitted by patient families who are struggling financially) for individuals and community groups interested in lending a hand. Volunteers will be assigned a family and are asked to buy and deliver Thanksgiving and/or Christmas items for the family. Call Stacy Dunleavy, (803) 434-3522.
HOME WORKS OF AMERICA CHRISTMAS BREAK BLITZ: Volunteers are needed to make repairs to the homes of the elderly and disadvantaged in the greater Columbia area Dec. 27-30. No skill level required. A planning meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19 at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, 3200 Trenholm Road. Refreshments will be served. (803) 781-4536; email firstname.lastname@example.org
HOLIDAY MUSIC: The Palmetto Health Cancer Center needs volunteers who play musical instruments to play their own selection of music in one- to two-hour shifts, from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday through Dec. 25. Small musical combos and small choral groups also are invited to perform. A piano is available. Call Carole Howell at (803) 434-2659.
TREAT BAGS FOR PATIENTS: Volunteers are needed to prepare treat bags for those remaining at Palmetto Health during the Christmas holidays. Volunteers will distribute the treat bags to patients throughout December. Treat bags will be accepted beginning Monday. To volunteer or to receive a list of items for the bags, contact Carole Howell, (803) 434-2659.
Special holiday drives
LIGHTS FOR HOSPICE: Palmetto Health Hospice is holding its annual Lights for Hospice fundraising drive. For a gift of $35 or more, residents can honor a family member or friend during the holidays with a symbolic light that will be displayed on the crosswalks and other areas of Palmetto Health. An acknowledgement card also will be sent in their name. A gift of $135 or more includes a symbolic light, acknowledgement card and a holiday ornament keepsake. Call Leah Peace at (803) 296-2330.
13th ANNUAL VETS’ CHRISTMAS CHARITY RIDE: 2 p.m. Dec. 8 at Carolina Honda Powerhouse, 901 Buckner Road. Make the holiday a little brighter for a patient at the Dorn VA Hospital. This year it’s about more than just the ride. There are several drop-off sites around the Midlands accepting donations by Dec. 8 — AllSouth Federal Credit Unions (all locations), All American Heating and Air, Harley Haven, Carolina Honda, Truck Supply of SC, Columbia Flag and Banner, Divine Consign in Columbia; Palmetto Propane/Havird Oil, Mitchell Printing and Graphics in Batesburg; Kool 102.7 in Camden; and Jack’s Custom Cycles in Lexington. But if you still want to share the comaraderie of the ride, come early, 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., for food served by the Boy Scouts of America for donations. Gift suggestions include warm socks, gloves, throw blankets, sweatshirts, sweatpants, T-shirts, bathrobes (L or XL), underwear, scarves, slippers, toilet articles, cookies (without nuts), gift cards, soft candy, small radios, backpacks, phone cards, ball caps, cash donations. Accepting wrapped (tag with contents) and unwrapped gifts. Event will be held rain or shine. (803) 252-3381; www.vetsride.org
5th ANNUAL WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA CEREMONY: Wreaths are still needed to honor and remember veterans during a special ceremony at noon Dec. 14 at the Fort Jackson National Cemetery, 4170 Percival Road. Wreath sponsorships are $15 each and checks can be made payable to Wreaths Across America and mailed to P.O. Box 3356, West Columbia, SC 29171. The public is invited to the service and to help place the wreaths. (803) 739-2774
Rosie Brooks and Bertram Rantin