Five ways to spread joy this holiday season by donating to local charities and organizations

Courtesy of the City of Jacksonville Facebook Page

Emily Ford, Correspondent

For anyone looking for a way to lend a helping hand to those struggling during the holiday season, here are a few charities and organizations you can consider making a donation to:

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is an organization that helps give children toys for Christmas in cases where parents can not afford to purchase toys. Toys for Tots believes every child deserves to experience the joy of opening Christmas gifts, regardless of their family’s financial situation. If you want to be a part of bringing the magic of Christmas to a child in need, you can bring an unwrapped toy to Jacksonville City Hall, Jacksonville City Police Department, Jacksonville Public Library, or Jacksonville Community Center. There are also various participating retailers around Jacksonville such as Advance America. 

Jacksonville Christian Outreach Center (JCOC)

JCOC is a faith-based nonprofit organization that has provided direct relief assistance to those in need for over 25 years. Some of the services they provide include utility assistance, school supplies ministry, coat ministry, medical and prescription assistance, and rent assistance. You can offer your support to JCOC by purchasing a $5 bag of food at Johnson’s, bringing an unopened toy to Effina’s A Tuscan Grille, or supporting a local beauty pageant, which supports the organization in return. 

Salvation Army

Many people are probably familiar with this organization. You have likely seen red collection tins and people ringing bells outside of local grocery stores. Salvation Army has four core services they provide: grocery and food assistance, bill-pay assistance, Angel Tree Program, and holiday events. Through these services, Salvation Army is able to provide meals for families in need, assist with heating and electric bills, gift less fortunate children with Christmas presents such as toys and clothes, and host gift giving parties for hospital visits. Your donation to the organization will go towards these services to provide families with the means to make Christmas special for everyone. 

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child is a charity operated by the Christian relief organization known as the “Samaritan’s Purse.” It works to provide its partner charities from all around the world with shoeboxes filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene products for children in need. The organization even sends these shoeboxes to communities in need in other countries facing issues such as famine, war, and disease. You can support this organization by donating supplies, filling a shoebox, or making a financial donation that will go towards gifts and shipping costs. 

Christmas Spirit Foundation 

The Christmas Spirit Foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization working to recognize and support the true spirit of Christmas for U.S. troops and military families. One of the ways the organization does this is through a program called Trees for Troops, which packages and ships Christmas trees to troops stationed overseas to help them feel the Christmas spirit and bring them a sense of home when they are away from loved ones during the holidays. It has provided almost a quarter million free, real Christmas trees to military families and troops since it started in 2005. In addition to this, the Christmas Spirit Foundation also provides various programs including college scholarships, recycling programs, and hurricane relief efforts. It has been awarded the “Best in America” seal of excellence by the Independent Charities of America, and your donations can help the organization continue to make dreams come true.

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