Post Date: December 5, 2015

11 Ways to Love Our Neighbors this Christmas

It’s the holiday season, and during this time of year you may find yourself thinking, “I would really like to do something for someone in need.” Or, “I want to find an opportunity for my family to serve together.” Often we succumb to the “paralysis of analysis” and end up doing nothing because we don’t know where to begin. Yet Christmas is a challenging time for people in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. Christmas gifts, a home-cooked holiday meal, or simply quality time with others are luxuries when you are in day-in and day-out survival mode.

There is much impact we can have, with whatever resources we can give, to make 2015 a memorable and meaningful holiday season for those around us.

That’s why we’ve compiled a list of deserving organizations that are doing good and beautiful things in Phoenix – true to the mission of Flourish Phoenix. There is still plenty of time to sign up to serve with one of these ten worthy causes, whether it’s by yourself, with your office or together with your family. Pick a mission that aligns to your interests and speaks to your heart. It is our hope that your experience will start a long-term volunteer relationship that will bless you, and others, throughout the year.

 


Arizona Helping Hands

Arizona Helping Hands (AHH) assists foster families who have stepped up to provide a safe, loving environment for children in the Department of Child Safety system. Their programs are designed to provide many basic needs for these boys and girls, including items like cribs and beds.

Arizona Helping Hands will provide toys this year to over 22,000 children in Arizona.  The majority of toys are given “behind the scenes” to churches, schools and other non-profits.  Major recipients included the Department of Child Safety, whose toy closets were stocked with 5,600 toys from AHH. Currently, AHH is working on filling family toy orders for over 400 families, mostly foster care providers. Distributions of toys will be held December 18 and 19. They are in significant need of businesses, individuals, and groups to sponsor holiday toy drives to provide gifts for these children.

Contact Dan Shufelt at 480-889-0604 or dshufelt@azhelpinghands.org.

 


Change Society
A grassroots movement that hosts and supports family-friendly, monthly hashtag lunch bag Phoenix events. On the fourth Sunday of every month, volunteers gather to assemble, pack, and deliver 1,000 lunches to area shelters.

This month’s hashtag lunch bag Phoenix event will be on December 20 at Monarch Theater downtown, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Join with others from around the Valley to pack and deliver lunches to the homeless. All ages welcome (they feature a station where kids can write notes or draw pictures on the bags to be delivered). Activities, music, and fun as you work. Show up to help; no RSVP.

If you would like to bring food, water or materials with you when you serve, please contact Erica at thechangesocietyinc@gmail.com.

 

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Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development
Tumbleweed helps homeless and vulnerable youth grow and thrive in Maricopa County.

Tumbleweed is in need of volunteers to bring in prepared meals to its Phoenix and Tempe youth resource centers for lunch. They are also in need of gift cards as well as holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for youth between the ages of 12 to 25. Individual volunteers are needed to help with gift-wrapping the week before Christmas.

Interested volunteers should contact volunteers@tumbleweed.org.

 

Refugee Focus
A division of Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, Refugee Focus helps to resettle refugees in Phoenix from around the world.

About 20 sponsors are needed to provide gifts for refugee families. You will be able to deliver the gifts and spend time with the family (perhaps even share a meal). Families come from many countries, including Iraq, Iran, Burma, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. All families have arrived in 2015, so they have been here for less than a year, and this will be their first Christmas in the United States. A great opportunity to love and serve your refugee neighbor and perhaps begin a longer-term relationship.

Contact Kyle Lundberg at klundberg@refugeefocus.org, who will help match you with a family and provide gift ideas and suggestions.

 

Phoenix Rescue Mission
Phoenix Rescue Mission (PRM) provides Christ-centered, life-transforming solutions to persons facing hunger and homelessness. The non-profit mission, which has been operating since 1952, is asking the public for support of its many programs designed to save lives, including Hope Coach Street Outreach, Homeless Emergency Services, Men’s Addiction Recovery Program, and the new Changing Lives Center for Women and Children.

On Saturday, December 19, PRM is hosting its Winter Wonderland Community Event. They are collecting new, unwrapped toys for needy children and small household items and personal gifts for their moms and dads. They will then have a shopping area where the parents can come and “shop” for their children for Christmas. The children will also be able to “shop” for mom and dad and then also wrap the gifts they picked for them. The event is part of the Mission’s “Feeding Phoenix: More than a Meal” campaign to help the homeless and poor.

PRM also is hosting its holiday fundraising event, Music with a Mission, on Saturday, December 12 at Christ Church Lutheran. Event will feature original electronic music and a multi-projector, multi-screen reimagining of the manger story put together by Emmy award-winning visual media specialist Mario Barnabe. The night will also feature testimonies of hope and transformation as told by graduates of PRM’s women’s recovery program, mixed with Christmas carol classics performed by these same women. Family friendly. Donations will be taken during the program. More details and RSVP info here.

Contact volunteer assistant Yadira Francis at 602-346-3363 or yfrancis@phoenixrescuemission.org.

 

Tempe Community Action Agency
Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) provides education, stability, and advocacy to working poor families, children, seniors, and the homeless. TCAA helps those who are struggling to obtain adequate food and shelter, as well as seniors and disabled adults working to attain their highest level of independence.

TCAA still needs volunteers and toys (new, unwrapped toys or gift cards for children up to age 15) for its Holiday Toy Shoppe, taking place at the Tempe IKEA on December 15 and 16. Families of more than 800 children will come and “shop” for holiday gifts. Toys can be dropped off at TCAA or IKEA. IKEA will also be hosting a soft toy drive through the end of the year to collect toys for next year.

To volunteer or arrange a toy drive or drop off, contact Lexie Krechel at 480-350-5884.

 

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Maggie’s Place
Maggie’s Place provides houses of hospitality and ongoing support to help pregnant and parenting women in need reach their goals, and welcomes them into a community filled with love and dignity.

Maggie’s Place is hosting its annual Christmas celebration on December 18 at Redemption Church in Tempe, providing gifts and a meal to over 400 people. There is much coordination that goes into making this event a success. Opportunities listed below:

  • Christmas Prep: The week of December 8-12 and December 14-17, preparation includes making nametags, writing Christmas cards to the moms, sorting Christmas gifts, making ornaments, and wrapping gifts. Timeslots offered throughout the day and evening.
  • Gift Adoption (Moms, Children, and Babies): Donate a gift card to help with the purchasing of last minute gifts.  Gifts cards to Target, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Barnes and Noble, and Payless Shoes are ideal.
  • Activity with the Moms: Come to one of the Maggie’s Place homes and share an activity with the moms. Activities like making a gift, gingerbread houses, ornaments, or something in the kitchen (decorating Christmas cookies), or anything else that might be fun for the moms (like an at home spa night).

Contact Laurel Coil at lcoil@maggiesplace.org or by phone at 602-262-5555 for available time slots or to set up an activity.

 


United Food Bank
United Food Bank (UFB) provides access to nutritious food through community partnerships, food distribution, and education in the East Valley and throughout eastern Arizona.

There are always opportunities to volunteer and help stock the food bank or collect food items for the hungry, especially around the holidays. Contact UFB for individual opportunities or to set up a company drive.

To volunteer contact UFB at volunteer@unitedfoodbank.org.

 

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Growing Together, a Giving Garden

Growing Together is a community of business leaders, gardeners, mothers, volunteers, and friends who saw a vacant lot and envisioned and created a flourishing giving garden. Through their collective talents and resources, they provide fresh vegetables and fruit to nourish those in our community that typically go without. [Editor’s Note: we published a story about the garden earlier this year.]

The garden (located at 101 E. Glendale Ave., Phoenix) is offering open volunteer garden Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on December 5 and 20. Come help harvest lettuce, kale, and other leafy vegetables to give to local organizations and shelters for holiday meals. Family friendly.

To learn more, contact gtggvolunteers@gmail.com.

 

Madison Meadows Senior Living and Retirement Community
Madison Meadows, located at 7211 N. 7th Street in Phoenix provides an independent living experience for seniors.

Madison Meadows has many opportunities to serve over the holidays, including holiday decorating, caroling for the residents, helping new residents to unpack and settle in, and its annual gift-wrapping event taking place on December 12 at 11 a.m. Or, if you or your group have something special or specific they would like to do with the residents, please suggest it!

Contact Katie Bowling at 602-944-4222.

 


Arizona Charitable Tax Credit

In addition to these opportunities, consider giving to one of these organizations or any others that qualify for the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, which offers a dollar-for-dollar tax credit ($200 for individuals, $400 for couples filing jointly) and goes directly to helping those in need. A win-win for all involved!

Photos by Roseann Dennery

Roseann Dennery

Roseann is the owner of Resonate Creative Consulting, which helps organizations tell a truer story of their work through compelling words and images.

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