By Steven Ryzewski | November 13, 2013
Halloween is in the rear-view, the temperature is dropping – well, sort of – and, yes, there have even been a few Santa sightings.
It’s mid-November in Central Florida and with Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas on the horizon, it is a time when many consider ways to give back and help out in the spirit of the holiday season.
There are several local organizations that need donations and volunteers in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and beyond.
Here is an overview of some of the local organizations that are welcoming donations and volunteers and how you can get involved:
The Forgotten Ones
The Forgotten Ones in Oviedo, an organization that, among other things, helps to provide identification, access to benefits, cellphones, an emergency food pantry, vision services and referral services, has events coming up for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, there will be a free lunch, groceries and live music at the First Baptist Church in Oviedo. Volunteers and donations are needed. There will be a similar event on Dec. 21. Cindy Shadron, executive director of The Forgotten Ones, encourages people to donate to help fill the pantry for these events. Information can be found online at theforgottenonesinc.org.
Donation drop-off location: 98 West Broadway St., Oviedo
The Sharing Center
The Sharing Center in Longwood is in need of donations for its upcoming programs and events in November and December. The organization will have food drives for both Thanksgiving and Christmas with the goal of providing complete meal ingredients to thousands in Central Florida. The Sharing Center is encouraging food donations to help families prepare their own meals and is also providing ready-to-eat packages for homeless individuals. More information about what types of ingredients and foods are needed can be found online atthesharingcenter.org.
With regard to volunteer opportunities, The Sharing Center has a thrift store and warehouse that utilizes volunteers to sort, organize and prepare donations. These are opportunities for which people can serve one time or on an ongoing basis. Regular, ongoing opportunities are available in the organization’s food pantries at the Sanford and Longwood locations.
The Sharing Center also has programs to provide shoes to children in need, with a program that gives $20 gift cards to Payless or somewhere comparable so that parents and children can go pick out a new pair of shoes. Patricia Shields, the coordinator of volunteer opportunities for the organization, said being able to pick out their own shoes gives the children a heightened sense of self-esteem.
“Years ago, we made a decision to focus on providing new shoes to children since there were already so many others working to collect toys,” Shields said. “Shoes are a common Christmas list item for most kids we see … our shoe program has been hugely successful providing over 1,500 pairs of shoes to local children annually.”
More information about the shoe program can be found online, or by contacting Shields at Patricia.Shields@thesharingcenter.org.
Donation drop-off location: 600 N. Highway 17-92, Longwood
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army’s Greater Orlando location is in need of donations, both physical and monetary, for its upcoming events and programs in November and December. For general questions about donations, call 407-423-8581, ext. 252, or email Kyle_McNeil@uss.salvationarmy.org or Jaylen_Christie@uss.salvationarmy.org.
Donation drop-off location: 416 West Colonial Drive, Orlando
Second Harvest Food Bank
The Second Harvest Food Bank is in need of volunteers to help sort donations and to staff the organization’s Share Your Christmas event on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. Mindy Ortiz, the volunteer services and food drive manager for Second Harvest, encourages those interested to check out the organization’s calendar online which lists the many opportunities to sign up and get involved. Information can be found online here or by contacting Ortiz at 407-295-8844.
Donation drop-off location: 411 Mercy Drive, Orlando