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 is collecting non-perishable food items 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. (803) 545-3100
SISTERCARE FOOD DRIVE: The local non-profit serving survivors of domestic violence is collecting non-perishable food items and canned goods through Dec. 31 to be distributed to battered women and their children during the December holidays. To participate in the drive and make deliveries, call (803) 926-0505.
Toy and clothing drives
HOLIDAY TOY DRIVE: Through Friday at Southeastern Institute, 1420 Colonial Life Blvd. West, Suite 80. Accepting new, unwrapped toys for children of military families in need. The drive 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 Wednesday. 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.
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 Friday. 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 Tuesday. (803) 736-4242
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, from 8 a.m.- noon Saturday. 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. Chapin’s old town fire truck will be there as well as CPD cruisers. Gently used toys will also be accepted. Suggestions for the older children include toothbrushes, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, nail polish, razors, cologne, etc. All gifts will be donated to The Hub, Good Works, We Care, The Boys Farm, Newberry Sheriff’s Department and Christ Gate. Boland’s will be accepting toys until Dec. 23. (803) 345-1336 or (803) 345-6443
COLUMBIA CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB TOY DRIVE: The club will be collecting new, unwrapped gifts from noon-4 p.m. Saturday 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 Sunday 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.
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. 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 are accepting donations of new or lightly used winter coats, gloves and hats for Lexington County children in need of assistance. Drop-off locations 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.
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 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. Thursday 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. 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. 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.
HOLIDAY SUPPLY DRIVE FOR HOMELESS PETS: Pawmetto Lifeline’s high-need list includes cat and dog food, cat litter, cat and dog toys, gently used linens. Donations will be accepted 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays through Dec. 20 and noon-5 p.m. Sunday at the Meyers-Finlay Adoption Center, 1275 Bower Parkway. www.pawmettolifeline.org
5th ANNUAL WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA CEREMONY: Wreaths are still needed to honor and remember veterans during a special ceremony at noon Saturday 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