This holiday season, give a little back to the city that gives us all so much. There are a lot of ways to help a person in need this time of year. Donating time or goods or even making an all important monetary contribution to a worthwhile cause will help Pittsburghers in need have a better, safer and happier holiday season.
Toys For Tots Foundation
Donation locations throughout the city
Organizers and volunteers at the local Toys For Tots Foundation work tirelessly to bring holiday gifts to those in need. Recognized by the Secretary of Defense in 1995 as an official activity of the U.S. Marine Corps, the mission of Toys For Tots is to ensure that less fortunate children throughout the area have a gift to unwrap during the holidays. Donate time to the donation centers where toys are sorted or search the website for donation site locations to drop off a new, unwrapped toy that will be matched with a child in need. This nationwide organization has donated almost 500 million toys to children since its founding. If you know a child in need of a little treat this holiday season, you can also visit the website to submit his or her name to request a toy.
Fifth Avenue Commons
905 Watson St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Located in uptown, the mission of Bethlehem Haven is to arrange emergency shelter, food, medical care and transitional housing for homeless women throughout the city. Bethlehem Haven also provides non-resident services to homeless men who seek assistance. The largest and most ongoing need for Bethlehem Haven is food donations. This holiday season will be no different. Those interested in helping Bethlehem Haven can arrange to drop off bag lunches that will be distributed by the staff and can also donate time to be at the shelter and prepare meals directly with the women there. Contact the shelter directly for all of the days to donate time and goods, including setting up a workplace donation drive to maximize the amount of help provided to the homeless women and men Bethlehem Haven serves.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
1 N. Linden St.
Duquesne, PA 15110
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank has a plethora of ways for Pittsburghers to help end hunger in our region. In addition to volunteering at the distribution center and donating goods directly to the food bank, people interested in the cause can organize a food drive of their own and take one large donation to the food bank. Organizing a food drive of your own couldn’t be easier. Visit the organization’s website for a list of recommended donation items as well as a list of guidelines for how to make your food drive a success.
Related: Family Guide to Holiday Volunteering
Presents For Patients
Donation locations throughout the city
Being in the hospital is always difficult. Being in the hospital at the holidays is even harder. St. Barnabas organizes a Presents For Patients drive every year to help brighten up the holidays for patients all around the area who are hospital-bound or confined to nursing and assisted-living homes. Sponsor a patient, request a gift for a patient or make a monetary contribution to the cause with a quick phone call to the number listed above. This year, St. Barnabas is celebrating its 30th season of gift giving that so far as distributed over 13,000 gifts to patients.
Project Bundle Up Polar Bear Jump
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Each year, the Polar Bear Club of Pittsburgh famously sponsors a jump in the Monongahela River on New Year’s Day. The event raises funds for Project Bundle Up, a charity that distributes coats and warm clothes to children and seniors in need. If the holidays get too busy, take the time to support a charitable cause on New Year’s Day to start 2014 off on the right foot. The motto of the event is “We’re freezing so they don’t have to!” — a true sign of how dedicated the group is to working to make sure no child or senior goes without a winter coat.
Sally Turkovich Wright lives in her beloved city of Pittsburgh with her husband, Jason and German Shepherd, Zeus. She is a policy analyst by training, an eyewear stylist by trade and an amateur healthy-living advocate by choice. She also writes a column for Twoday Magazine. Catch up with her there at twodaymag.com. Her work can be found at Twodaymag.com.