Call it the holiday spirit, but there’s something about this season that makes us want to give back into our neighbors. Whether you’re a Houstonian or you’re visiting our city, we have plenty of way for you to be a blessing to someone else this holiday. From caring for our homeless friends or pets in need, to providing meals, toys or blankets to families, all acts of charity are welcome and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer or donate.

Toys for Tots

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in Houston. With drop sites all over there city, there’s still plenty of time to help out by donating a new, unwrapped toy. The Marine Corps hope is that through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens. Last year Toys for Tots distributed 97,071 toys to 24,000 children across the inner loop area alone! For information and drop sites across Houston and surrounding areas, click here.

City Wide Club Houston

City Wide Club is a national non-profit community agency that provides social services to the poor, needy, senior citizens or just those in need of a helping hand through their 107 Networking Chapters nationwide, which includes Houston. City Wide Club works to eliminate conditions of poverty by promoting individual independence and self-sufficiency through a variety of programs and services. This year, they have a number of great ways to give back. Drop off any toys, blankets, jackets, non-perishable food items, turkeys and/or household items and they’ll make sure that these items get to the people that need them and provide a bountiful holiday meal. To learn where to drop off or donate, click here

Houston Food Bank

Did you know at the Houston Food Bank that $1 provides nine meals to neighbors in need? What a way to stretch a dollar! Besides monetary donations, the Houston Food Bank has plenty of ways to serve nutritious and delicious meals to people across the Houston area. This holiday season get involved by registering for a time to volunteer at the Food Bank. There are opportunities to sort, pack and inspect meals in the warehouse, assist with meal prep and packaging in the kitchen and even distribute the meals across H-Town. To learn more about volunteer opportunities or sign up for a shift, click here.

 Northwest Assistance Ministries

Northwest Assistance Ministries (NAM) is ready for its Holiday Project 2019. The purpose of the annual Holiday Project, which consists of a food and toy drive, is to provide local families in need with food and toys for the holiday season. Registration for the Holiday Project began in September, and those meeting eligibility requirements were given food vouchers to redeem for holiday meals in November and December. Families with children 12 and under were also given toy vouchers. NAM is still in need of toys and food for the Holiday Project, to learn where to drop off or other ways to volunteer or give, click here

SEARCH Houston

SEARCH pursues a mission of providing hope, creating opportunity, and transforming lives of men, women, and children who are trying to break free from the cycle of poverty and homelessness. SEARCH helps their clients obtain permanent housing, increase their income, improve their health, develop their children, and ultimately achieve independence. Are you packing to travel to Houston? When you head to the store for last-minute items, grab some extra travel-sized toiletries or household items. Little things make a big difference when you’re newly housed. To learn of other donation and volunteer opportunities at SEARCH, click here.

Citizens for Animal Protection

Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) was founded in 1972 and is committed to sheltering, rescuing and placing homeless animals; relieving animal suffering by preventing animal cruelty; providing humane education to develop an aware and responsive community; and advocating respect and compassion for animal life. This holiday season, you can make a difference in the life of a sweet pet waiting for its forever home by donating a number of items. CAP is in need of lots of pet-specific items like canned or dry kitten and puppy food, newspaper, Kong dog toys, and even household items like bathroom tissue, garbage bags, paper towels, etc. To help offset the cost of the important work that they do, think about making a grocery run to a local HEB or Kroger and stock up on these much-needed items. To learn more about the necessary items, click here

Star of Hope

Star of Hope is a Christ-centered community dedicated to meeting the needs of homeless men, women and their children. Positive life changes are encouraged through structured programs which focus on spiritual growth, education, employment, life management and recovery from substance abuse. Star of Hope serves three meals per day, 365-days a year, at all three of their facilities. Breakfast, lunch and dinner shifts are available throughout the week, so depending on when you’re headed to H-Town, be sure to check out available times. To learn more about volunteering opportunities by clicking here.