For the next few weeks, giving will be on the minds of many as they look for the perfect Christmas gifts or plan the perfect Thanksgiving feast for family and friends.
It’s also a good time for giving and sharing with those neighbors in need so that everyone can have happy holidays.
Opportunities abound for those looking to share with those in need: You can help those who are homeless, humans or animals; you can help those away from home defending our country; you can help children, adults; you can donate time or money.
Many local churches, schools, civic groups and businesses offer opportunities to donate food, clothing, toys and other things to spread holiday cheer.
Following is a list of just some of the opportunities in the Midlands for folks who want to help others this holiday season:
Carolina Cares: The 48th annual Carolina Cares holiday donation drive needs your help to help others. Through the collection of stocking stuffers with the Salvation Army, holiday cards for soldiers with the American Red Cross, and family food drive program with Families Helping Families, the student body and faculty are able to help the less-fortunate in Columbia. The drive ends on Friday, Dec. 1, and is celebrated at this year’s 63rd annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Horseshoe at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 7. Attendees will be welcomed to college President Harris Pastides’ house for a reception with light refreshments directly following the ceremony. (803) 777-7130.
Coat collection: For the 13th year, Mast General Store is helping Share the Warmth by holding a coat collection through Thursday, Nov. 30. Donations made at the Columbia store will go to Transitions Homeless Center. Donations should be clean and gently used so they are ready for the recipient. Blankets, gloves, hats and heavy sweaters are also accepted. 803-771-2300.
Ronald McDonald families: Every year, more than 300 families spend an average of 11 days at the Ronald McDonald House in Columbia. And at least 16 families will spend the holiday season there this year. Help these families experience some holiday joy by participating in the Ronald McDonald House Adopt a Family Program, for current and past families. To adopt a family or for information, email Liz Atkinson at email@example.com
Angel Trees: The Salvation Army is seeking donors for its Angel Trees through Sunday, Dec. 3, 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 and collect donations. Angel Tree gifts are due back at the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Tuesday, Dec. 5. (803) 309-0436
Stocking stuffers: Stockings are available at the Salvation Army, 3024 Farrow Road. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve stockings. Stockings are to be stuffed with age appropriate items and returned to the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Tuesday, Dec. 5. (803) 309-0436
Toys for Tots: Since 1947, the U.S. Marines have been collecting toys for needy children at Christmas in boxes located throughout the community. Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned in local businesses. The boxes will be picked up on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Go to http://eastover-sc.toysfortots.org for box locations or to request a box (by Friday, Nov. 24).
Columbia food drive: The city of Columbia, Richland School District One and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation are collecting food at various sites throughout the city for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Honor the Dream Food Drive. Food collected will be donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank. Donations will be accepted at most Columbia parks, City Hall and other sites. Some requested items include canned fruit and vegetables, dry goods and canned meats. The food drive ends Friday, Dec. 8. (803) 545-3100.
Families Helping Families: Adopt needy Midlands families now through Thursday, Nov. 30, and help buy them holiday gifts. Call the WIS phone bank at (803) 758-1020, or go online at www.fhfcolumbia.org. Gifts are due between Monday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 9, at 103 Trade Zone Drive in West Columbia. (803) 758-1020 or (803) 779-4875.
Pecan sale fundraiser: The Spring Valley Rotary Club is holding its annual Young Plantations Pecan sale through late December to support nonprofits including Harvest Hope, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Transitions and the Lourie Center and to provide college scholarships to graduating seniors at Spring Valley and Ridge View high schools. See options on the order form, and contact Diane Junis, (803) 873-0254 or email@example.com, to connect with a Rotarian who can deliver your order.
Cards for soldiers: The Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes is a way for you to express appreciation and gratitude for the sacrifices of military service members, their families and veterans. Groups can send poster cards or banners, or individuals can send cards. General messages expressing appreciation work best. Cards will be collected through Friday, Dec. 8. Send them to American Red Cross SAF, Attn. Demetria Williams, 2751 Bull St., PO Box 91, Columbia, SC 29201. (803) 751-4329 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Salvation Army food drive: The Salvation Army accepts donated food items at the Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service, 3024 Farrow Road. Operational hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. (803) 309-0436
Ring the bell: This longtime tradition gives families and groups the opportunity to collect monetary donations in a festive way, by ringing the bell outside participating businesses. Go to the Salvation Army’s Christmas volunteer website, http://columbiasa.volunteerfirst.org, for available locations and dates, or email email@example.com for details. (803) 309-0436
Christmas warehouse: The Salvation Army’s Christmas Warehouse needs setup and distribution volunteers. Go to the Christmas volunteer website, http://columbiasa.volunteerfirst.org, for dates and details, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (803) 309-0436
Midlands Gives: The deadline for nonprofits to register for Midlands Gives 2017 (the 24-hour local online giving challenge hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation) is Tuesday, Dec. 19. The day of donations will be Tuesday, May 1. www.midlandsgives.org
Presents for pets: Pawmetto Lifeline has a holiday wish list. Items include dog and cat toys, cat litter, dog treats, laundry detergent, bleach, Dawn dish soap, AA batteries, new or gently used collars and leashes of all sizes, pee pads, exercise pens (x-pens) for puppies, Kong or toys that can hold treats, medium and large new or gently used wire crates and kennels, travel carriers for cats and kittens, white or orange copy paper, pens, file folders, baby wipes, kitten and puppy feeding bottles, KMR powder, kitten and puppy formula, bleach wipes, postage stamps and hand sanitizer. (803) 465-9150