How to share the love in a season of giving
There are still plenty of opportunities to help others for the holidays
At the law offices of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in downtown Orlando this week, the elves were in overdrive.
Candy canes? Check. Book or magazine? Check. Socks, snacks, hygiene supplies, plastic reindeer antlers? Check, check, check, check.
In 45 minutes, employees put together 98 boxes of care packages for troops deployed to the Middle East.
“Eleven years ago, my son was deployed as a Marine to Iraq … and I would send him care packages,” says Lisa Griffin, a legal assistant for the firm. “He started sending me notes back — ‘You know that pair of socks? Why don’t you put two or three more pairs in the box? There are people here who don’t get anything.’ So it was really my son who started all this.”
Ben Griffin finished that deployment, enlisted for a second, and is now stateside as a reservist. But his mom, like generous people across Central Florida, is still trying to brighten the holidays for strangers who might otherwise go without.
“It’s a project I think that brings our whole firm together,” says managing partner Frank Sheppard. “We found out there’s an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf that was supposed to be coming home for Christmas, but they’ve just been extended an additional three months … So we have some special requests for them.”
Griffin’s project is supported mostly by employees, fellow law firms and other businesses. More often, though, such efforts are orchestrated by local nonprofits, which offer holiday “adoption” programs for impoverished children, families fleeing domestic violence, homeless people, pets in shelters and even endangered manatees.
Time is running short — The Salvation Army in Orlando wrapped up its annual Angel Tree program, collecting gifts for 4,000 children and seniors, this week. But there are still opportunities to help.
New Hope for Kids is providing holiday gifts to more than 500 children who have lost a parent or whose families are struggling with overwhelming medical bills from a serious illness. You can find drop-off locations (including Central Florida Panera Bread cafés) for a new, unwrapped toy as well as further instructions and a toy wish list at newhopeforkids.org/toydrive/. Deadline: Dec. 16, 7 p.m.
Harbor House of Central
Florida is looking for volunteers to host a linen drive for families seeking refuge from domestic violence by purchasing or collecting new pillows, pillowcases, bath towels, blankets and a twin or full sheet set. Harbor House provides new linens to every family to use in the shelter and to take when the family leaves for a new home.
The charity is also asking for gift cards from Walmart, Target, Visa, fast-food restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations to distribute to clients. Other needs include laundry soap, pet food and supplies, canned goods and cell phones.
Donations are accepted weekdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or Saturday 9 a.m. to noon at the nonprofit’s outreach office, 708 E. Colonial Drive, Suite 201, in Orlando. See harborhousefl.com/givehelp/get-involved/events/ gifts-of-hope/ for details and other gift ideas.
Embrace Families, the nonprofit organization that manages foster care, mentoring and adoptions for Central Florida youth, needs volunteers to host toy drives for children and fulfill the holiday wishes of 147 teens and young adults, ages 18 to 22 — who are often overlooked during the holidays. It has an Amazon.com wish list, or you can shop on your own.
In addition, the agency needs volunteers for its upcoming holiday party and toy distributions on Wednesday, Saturday and Dec. 21. For wish lists, details and sign-up information, go to embracefamilies.org/a-season-for-giving.
The Third Annual Sweater & Socks Christmas, an event to help homeless individuals, takes place Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Callahan Community Center in Orlando. Organized by the nonprofit CORE of Orlando and Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill, the event will provide more than 250 new sweaters, socks, gloves and hats as well as hot meals and health screenings to the homeless. To donate, you can use Cash App ($Mckenzie1990), Zelle (407-406-9640) or email coreofor[email protected] Volunteers are also needed to donate their time for the event. Details: facebook.com/WestLakesTalk.
The Pet Alliance of
Greater Orlando, which has more than 400 animals in its care at the moment, is asking for pet food donations throughout December. The food not only helps feline and canine residents of the nonprofit’s shelters in Orlando and Sanford; it also supports the AniMeals on Wheels program and a pet food pantry that keeps more than 900 pets in their homes and out of the shelter.
To donate, drop off supplies at either 2727 Conroy Road in Orlando or 2800 County Home Rd. in Sanford, or make a contribution online at petallianceorlando.org/ways-give/donate/.
Finally, you can “adopt” any of 30 or so manatees through the nonprofit
Save the Manatee Club — if only in spirit. Membership adoptions levels start at $25 and feature a “personalized” adoption packet with adoption certificate, photo and life history of your manatee as well as a membership handbook of manatee facts and a wall calendar. Shipping is free within the U.S.
Proceeds from the holiday gift adoptions help the charity fund public awareness and education; sponsor research, rescue and rehabilitation efforts; advocate for strong protection measures; and take legal action when appropriate. Order by Friday to ensure delivery of adoption package by Christmas. Details: savethemanatee.org/howto-help/adopt-a-manatee/.
Employees from the law firm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell assemble holiday care packages for U.S. troops serving abroad.