With all the money spent around the holidays, it’s important to remember the most worthwhile expenditure of all: paying it forward. Here’s a list of charitable events, volunteer opportunities and services for those in need this holiday season.
SPONSOR A SENIOR FOR THANKSGIVING DINNER
The 27th annual Celebrate Life Thanksgiving luncheon for senior citizens is held 10:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at Wyndham Riverwalk Hotel, 1515 Prudential Drive, Southbank. The cost to sponsor a senior’s transportation and Thanksgiving meal is $22. To donate online, go to Senior Life Foundation page on wegive.org. 630-0966.
FEED A FAMILY FOR $25
His Servants and Please Pass the Bread International provide families with a turkey and all the fixings to cook their own Thanksgiving meal. If you know a family in need, would like to sponsor a family, or want to join a group of young professionals to deliver meals, call 868-9913 or email email@example.com.
YMCA 12 GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS
The 17th annual prize raffle is held during the Christmas tree lighting, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 27 in The Ritz-Carlton Courtyard, Amelia Island, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway. Proceeds benefit YMCA’s annual Giving Campaign. 261-1080, firstcoastymca.org.
INTUITION ALE WORKS COOKBOOKS BENEFIT
Order the brewery’s new cookbook – proceeds benefit Second Harvest North Florida – and pick it up at its launch party held Dec. 12 at 720 King St., Riverside, 683-7720, intuitionaleworks.com.
The nonprofit helps homeless families with children become self-sufficient, providing shelter, meals and case management, with local churches, social service organizations and volunteers. 354-1818, familypromisejax.org.
ANGELS OF MERCY SPREADING WARMTH
Senior Life Foundation purchases and distributes heaters through the city of Jacksonville’s Independent Living Program. Call them at 268-6649 or go to seniorlifejax.com.
HOLIDAY GIFT DRIVE
The annual drive, Nov. 26-Dec. 10, provides holiday gifts to nearly 1,000 First Coast children and teens in foster care. The gifts should be new, unwrapped toys that don’t promote violence – no “R” rated movies, no CDs with explicit lyrics and all video games must be rated “E” for everyone. Others may be clothes, shoes, socks, underwear (all sizes), interactive/education games, building blocks, push/pull toys, dolls, toy cars/trucks, musical toys, tricycles, arts & crafts kits, sports items, dolls, books, bikes, roller skates, helmets. Drop off at Children’s Home Society, Buckner Division, 3027 San Diego Road, Jacksonville. Proceeds benefit Children’s Home Society programs. 493-7744, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third annual WinterFEST at Adventure Landing transforms the waterpark into an Alpine snow village with an outdoor ice-skating rink, a 130-foot ice slide, visits from Santa, cookie decorating, carnival and crafts, Santa’s workshop (and photo op), ornament decorating, s’more roasting, reindeer games, teddy bear factory and nightly snowfalls through Jan. 12. Proceeds benefit Dreams Come True. Pricing by attraction; call for details. 1944 Beach Blvd., Jax Beach, 246-4386, jaxwinterfest.com.
SECOND HARVEST THANKSGIVING DINNER GIVEAWAY
Second Harvest North Florida provides ready-to-prepare meals for 2,500 eligible Duval County families 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 22. For requirements, go to wenourishhope.org.
A NICKEL A PLATE
Council on Aging’s fundraising project works like this: Participating restaurants (Johnny & Beanie’s Kitchen, The Spot Café, The Raintree, Carmelo’s Pizzeria, Amici’s Italian Restaurant, Mediterranean Shish Ke-Bab, The Players Café) agree to donate one nickel for every plate of food or specifically designated dish or item served. Proceeds benefit Council on Aging’s elder services. 209-3700, coasjc.com.
CHRISTMAS ON THE RIVER
The COA’s annual fundraiser is held 5-8 p.m. Nov. 24 at River House, 179 Marine St., St. Augustine. The Festival of Wreaths, featuring one-of-a-kind wreaths hand-crafted and donated to the COA by local garden clubs, florists, 4-H’ers and Master Gardeners and a wine tasting are featured. Tickets are $35; proceeds benefit COA’s programs. 209-3687, coasjc.com.
ANIMAL HOSPITAL BENEFIT
Proceeds from the sales of holiday gift wrap help provide medical care for pets in need, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 14-15 and 21-22 at St. Francis Animal Hospital, 2107 Mango Place, Jacksonville, 333-5101, saintfrancisanimalhospital.org.
THANKSGIVING DAY FEAST
Cathy White, of O.C. White’s Restaurant, prepares a free feast for elders unable to join family or friends, 11:30 a.m. Nov. 28 at the restaurant, 118 Avenida Menendez, St. Augustine. Registration required. Volunteer drivers needed. 209-3687, coasjc.com.
DREAMS COME TRUE
The locally based nonprofit is dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of children who suffer from life-threatening illnesses. Proceeds from some performances of Community Nutcracker at The Florida Theatre are donated to Dreams Come True. Volunteers are needed to assist with special events and administrative chores. 6803 Southpoint Parkway, Jacksonville, 296-3030, dreamscometrue.org.
SEA TURTLE ADOPTIONS
For those who want to make a positive impact on the natural world, sea turtle adoptions are a great, green gift idea. For a tax-deductible donation of $30 or more, Sea Turtle Conservancy sends gift recipients a personalized adoption certificate, membership window cling, sea turtle sticker and bookmark, magnet and one-year subscription to the Conservancy’s publication. To adopt a turtle online, visit adoptaseaturtle.org or call 800-678-7853.
FEED THE CITY
The 19th annual event is held Nov. 24 at Clara White Mission, 613 W. Ashley St., Downtown, for details, call 354-4162, clarawhitemission.org.
FOOD FOR FINES
St. Johns County Public Libraries offer the opportunity to resolve overdue fines and help those in need this holiday season through the “Food for Fines” program. Library staff accepts sealed, non-expired, non-perishable food items in lieu of up to $1 in overdue library fines through Dec. 21. Donations are delivered to St. Johns County Food Closet, distributed locally. The donation waivers are for library fines only and cannot be applied to fees for printing, lost items, or for credit against future fines. Don’t owe fines? Drop off canned foods at any library branch or bookmobile stop. For more information, visit sjcpls.org or call 827-6925.
JSO/FOP CHRISTMAS PARTY
The annual party is held 4-6 p.m. Dec. 3 at Children’s Home Society of Florida, 3027 San Diego Road, Jacksonville, 493-7738, chsfl.org.
The 12th annual Extravaganza displays holiday houses weekdays 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Dec. 4-21 at Jacksonville Historical Society, located at Old St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 317 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Downtown. More than 30 gingerbread houses are created by local chefs, architects, culinary students, engineers and civic organizations. Proceeds benefit the Society. Admission: $5 adults, $3 kids ages 3-16; free for kids younger than 2. The Victorian Merrill Museum House is open from 1:30-3:30 p.m. for tours. 665-0064, jaxhistory.com.
HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Community Hospice bereavement specialists lead free discussions and group exercises on coping with grief now through the holidays at Acosta-Rua Center, 5450 Ramona Blvd., Jacksonville; McGraw Center, 4715 Worrall Way, Mayo Clinic campus, Jacksonville; 728 Blanding Blvd., Ste. 1, Orange Park; 525 S.R. 16, Ste. 112, St. Augustine; Baptist Medical Center Nassau, 1250 S. 18th St., Fernandina Beach and Neviaser Educational Institute, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Bldg. 100, Jacksonville. For schedules and details, call 407-6500. For reservations, call 407-7001.
TREE OF LIFE CELEBRATION
The 23rd annual event is held 5:30 p.m. Dec. 5 at Community Hospice’s Hadlow Center, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Southside. The tree’s lights represent more than 91,000 adults and children cared for by Community Hospice. A candlelight Service of Remembrance is featured. Proceeds benefit Community Hospice Foundation. 886-3883.
TOYS FOR TOTS FLY-IN
The annual fly-in is held Dec. 7 at Lannie Road Field, 3461 Lannie Road, Jacksonville. Remote-controlled airplanes fly and perform aerobatics. Bring a new, unwrapped toy worth $10 or more, for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Foundation. 955-8222, gatewayrc.org.
Segway in the Parks Tours are offered Sun.-Thur. on trails at Fort Clinch and Fort George parks. Proceeds benefit the Florida Park Service. Call 251-9477, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. ecomotiontours.com
ONE FOR THEM CHURN
Local bands, including Poor Richards, Jumping Ship, Status Faux, Deliriums, Southern Alabama Pie Cookoff and Snake Blood Remedy, perform 8 p.m. Dec. 13 at Shantytown, 22 W. Sixth St., Springfield. Admission is a new, unwrapped toy worth $5 or more for Toys for Tots. 798-8222.
CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY
This event needs folks to hand out new donated toys to kids 12 years old and younger at the annual gathering held 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at Prime Osborn Convention Center, 1000 Water St., Downtown, 350-1616, ccpoj.org.
J.P. HALL CHARITIES CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY
The 32nd annual children’s event is held 8 a.m.-noon Dec. 21 at Clay County Fairgrounds, 2497 S.R. 16 W., Green Cove Springs. Open to any Clay County kids up to 14 years old, the party features new toys, food and entertainment. 284-7398, jphallcharities.com.
850 Sixth Ave. S., Ste. 400, Jax Beach, 241-7437, jaxbeam.org. Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry holds a Thanksgiving basket giveaway to registered clients every November. B.E.A.M.’s mission is to keep economically challenged families in their homes and help them become self-sufficient. B.E.A.M. has served Beaches families for more than 28 years. A Beach Ball fundraiser is held in January.
BETTY GRIFFIN HOUSE
Crisis Hotline 824-1555, email@example.com. Betty Griffin House provides safe emergency shelter to abused women and their minor children, and victims of rape, as well as counseling, support groups, legal assistance, community education and advocacy programs. To see the wish list, go to bettygriffinhouse.org.
THE BRIDGE OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA
1824 N. Pearl St., Downtown, 354-7799, bridgejax.com. The Bridge is in need of food and turkey gift certificates for Thanksgiving and gifts for Christmas, and volunteers who can help organize and distribute food and toys to families.
BRIGHT HOLIDAYS OF JACKSONVILLE INC.
24532 Deer Trace Drive, Ponte Vedra, 608-0333, brightholidays.org. Bright Holidays needs volunteers to shop, wrap and deliver clothing, food, school supplies and other essentials. Pssst, high school students: It’s an easy way to earn service hours.
CHILDREN’S HOME SOCIETY OF FLORIDA
P.O. Box 5616, Jacksonville FL 32247, 493-7738, chsfl.org. Provides foster care, adoption, parenting education and child-abuse prevention services to children and families in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties. The Society needs monetary donations to give a family a Thanksgiving basket, as well as gift certificates, new toys and volunteers to wrap donated gifts for Christmas. For Wish Lists, go to chsfl.org.
CHRISTMAS INTERNATIONAL HOUSE
More than a dozen foreign exchange students can’t go home during the winter holiday break, Dec. 18-Jan. 2. They’ll stay at Riverside Presbyterian Church – but snacks and breakfast items are needed. The students need host families to take them in Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. firstname.lastname@example.org
EPISCOPAL CHILDREN’S SERVICES
8443 Baymeadows Road, Ste. 1, Jacksonville, 726-1500. The ECS Holiday Outreach Program helps children and families in Northeast Florida providing early childhood education and social services. The ECS needs monetary donations and Winn-Dixie gift certificates for holiday meals.
HOPE AT HAND
830-13 A1A N., Ste. 126, Ponte Vedra Beach, 868-4673, hopeathand.org. The nonprofit is dedicated to providing art and poetry therapy to the underserved in Northeast Florida, with monthly groups at PACE Center for Girls, Hubbard House shelter, Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, The Bridge of NE Florida, Liberty Center III, Gateway Community Services and Cypress Village.
JEWISH FAMILY & COMMUNITY SERVICES
6261 Dupont Station Court E., Mandarin, 448-1933. The food pantry needs canned food donations and volunteers to help sort and stock the items. Its Jewish Healing Network program needs volunteers to visit others who are ill.
MISTER ROGERS SWEATER DRIVE
The 11th annual sweater drive is on. Drop off clean, new and gently used sweaters, jackets, coats and blankets through Nov. 30 at WJCT Public Broadcasting Studios, 100 Festival Park Ave., Jacksonville, Two Men & A Truck, 8849 Arlington Expressway, and all First Coast VyStar Credit Union locations. Contributions are donated to St. Vincent’s Mobile Outreach Ministry, Clara White Mission, I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. 358-6322, wjct.org.
NORTH JAX WOMEN’S RESOURCE CENTER
12456 Sago Ave. W., Jacksonville, 696-9100. The center helps pregnant women, including teenagers and single mothers who need food and clothing for their babies. Baby clothing, maternity clothes, gift cards and donations for a new facility are needed.
P.A.C.E. CENTER FOR GIRLS
1 W. Adams St., Jacksonville, 421-8585, pacecenter.org. The Center needs volunteers to tutor girls and young women (ages 12-18) in math, English and reading, and to help provide program enrichment activities, Mon.-Fri. between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Donations of gift cards for food and clothing are also needed.
OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD
Volunteers collect shoebox gifts packed by local individuals, and send them to needy children around the world, at collection sites throughout Northeast Florida. samaritanspurse.org/OCC.
SECOND HARVEST NORTH FLORIDA FOOD BANK
1502 Jessie St., Jacksonville, 448-5995 or 353-3663. Part of Lutheran Social Services, Second Harvest needs volunteers to stock, pull orders and help with general upkeep. Monetary gifts are welcome.
TOYS FOR TOTS
Marine Toys For Tots Foundation needs new, unwrapped toys, but they also need folks to gather, sort and distribute them to deserving kids. Call SSgt. Daniel Ortiz, USMC, at 714-7472, email@example.com.
TOYS4TOTS HOLIDAY TOY GIVEAWAY
The Fresh Ministries Giveaway event, in partnership with the U.S. Marines, is held 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 14 at 616 A. Philip Randolph Blvd., Downtown. Volunteer to help wrap gifts the week before, too. freshministries.org.
USO GREATER JACKSONVILLE AREA
2560 Mayport Road, Atlantic Beach, 246-3481, jaxuso.org. NAS JAX, Yorktown Gate, Bldg. 1050, 778-2821. Welcome Center, JAX International Airport, 741-6655. The USO, serving Northeast Florida active duty military and their families, needs monetary donations for food baskets, supplies and children’s toys.
WASTE NOT WANT NOT
P.O. Box 119, Orange Park, 215-3150, wastenotflorida.com. This volunteer-based group collects and provides food to organizations serving the homeless and hungry, low-income families and seniors, people with disabilities and at-risk youths. Monetary donations and volunteers are needed.
ANGEL ATTIC THRIFT STORE
8595 Beach Blvd., Southside, 398-4882, angelaid.com. Angel Aid Ministries runs the shop year round, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mon.-Sat., noon-6 p.m. Sun., supporting the foundation for children with life-threatening diseases or situations.
SOUP KITCHENS, FOOD PANTRIES & RESCUE MISSIONS
BARNABAS CENTER INC.
11 S. 11th St., Fernandina Beach, 261-7000 ext. 107, barnabasfernandina.com. The food pantry at the Barnabas Center has an increased need for provisions. Any food drives that organizations would like to do on behalf of the pantry are greatly appreciated. And the food pantry is always in need of volunteers.
BEACHES COMMUNITY KITCHEN
The 22-year-old 501c3 nonprofit prepares and delivers meals to frail, ill, elderly or disabled residents, with an all-volunteer staff, with no salaries and no overhead expenses. Donations are appreciated for food, essential food prep items and establishing the kitchen to serve more people in need. Donations can be made to BCK, PO Box 51373, Jacksonville Beach FL 32240. For more information on how you can help, call 233-3959 or go to Beachescommunitykitchen.org.
CITY RESCUE MISSION
426 S. McDuff Ave., Northside, 387-4357, crmjax.org. Jacksonville’s City Rescue Mission needs volunteers to help with mailouts, holiday meal serving, data entry, phone calls and gift-wrapping. Thanksgiving dinner is held 11:30-3 p.m. Nov. 27 and Christmas dinner is 11:30-3 p.m. Dec. 20. Call for details and other volunteer opportunities.
CLARA WHITE MISSION
613 W. Ashley St., Downtown, 354-4162, clarawhitemission.org. Community volunteers serve Thanksgiving dinner to homeless and disadvantaged families. The 110-year-old Jacksonville mission needs donations of food and/or money to help the program offer its daily meal service.
I.M. SULZBACHER CENTER FOR THE HOMELESS
611 E. Adams St., Downtown, 359-0457, 359-0657, sulzbachercenter.org. Proceeds from the sale of Good Night cards, created by children living at the Sulzbacher Center, help provide services to those who need them. Volunteers are needed to amass toys and Toys R Us gift cards, blankets, watches, cold-weather clothing, hygienic products and non-perishable food items.
COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS Davis Center, 325 E. Duval St., Downtown, 354-6681, communityconnectionsjax.org. Celebrating a century of service, Community Connections Thanksgiving baskets for the needy, as well as day care, summer camp and after-school programs for kids, transitional housing for women, children and families, education and life skills and connections for those in need with the type of services required to help overcome challenges and become responsible productive citizens.
A HOT MEAL FOR THE HOMELESS
Join HandsOn Jacksonville 3:30-6 p.m. Nov. 20 and every Wed. through Dec. 18 at City Rescue Mission, 234 W. State St., Downtown, to serve the homeless. Sign up at handsonjacksonville.org.
JACKSONVILLE YOUTH SANCTUARY
4570 St. Johns Ave., Ste. 3, Avondale, 389-5231, jaxyouth.org. The Sanctuary provides residential group care to foster children (13-17 years old), and provides housing, education, life skills training and mentoring to youths 18-23 years old who have aged out of foster care. Christmas gifts, holiday food and monetary donations are needed.
800 Shetter Ave., Jax Beach, 241-6767, missionhousejax.org. This day facility, serving the homeless from Mayport to St. Johns County, provides meals, showers, clothing vouchers, medical care, case management and referrals. The Mission House is in need of funding to support its programs.
ST. AUGUSTINE CHRISTIAN SERVICE CENTER
50 S. Dixie Hwy., Ste. 4, St. Augustine, 808-1557, staugcsc.org. This food pantry ministry feeds nearly 1,000 people each month, many elderly and disabled. They need committed volunteers and financial and food donations.
ST. FRANCIS HOUSE
70 Washington St., St. Augustine, 829-8937, stfrancisshelter.org. This homeless resource, food pantry, soup kitchen and emergency housing shelter, serving 200 hot lunches daily, accepts donations of time, money, sponsorships or handyman skills.
ST. FRANCIS SOUP KITCHEN
134 E. Church St., Downtown, 356-2902 or 359-0331, stfrancissoupkitchenjax.org. Operated by Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, the 34-year-old soup kitchen serves lunch starting at 10 a.m. every Saturday, with clothing distribution at 7 a.m., canned goods at 10 a.m.
328 N. Ocean St., Jacksonville, 301-4846, salvationarmyusa.org. The Salvation Army needs Red Kettle bellringers, sorters, food box distributors and meal servers on Thanksgiving, meal servers on Christmas Day, Adopt-a-Family participants, Angel Tree toy shop workers and volunteers to help with year-round local programs, in Clay, Duval, St. Johns, Putnam and Nassau counties.
TRINITY LUTHERAN CHURCH FOOD PANTRY
2969 Park St., Riverside, 389-5341, trinity4jax.org. The pantry serves 9,000 families – approximately 27,000 individuals – every year. Food donations are needed. Nonperishable food items are accepted.
YOUTH CRISIS CENTER
3015 Parental Home Road, Southside, 877-720-0007, 720-0002, youthcrisiscenter.org. The center shelters homeless, runaway and abandoned children (ages 10-17), provides counseling and attempts to reunite families. Needed items include coats, sweaters, jeans, shoes, CD players, watches, journals, educational games, arts-and-crafts materials and backpacks.
COLD WEATHER SHELTERS
Many centers listed above provide emergency shelter.
Here are some additional resources.
Salvation Army, 356-8641, Downtown; 321-0435,
Fernandina Beach; 276-6677, Clay County; 824-6880
ext. 201, St. Johns County
St. Paul’s By-The-Sea Episcopal Church, 249-4091
Community Presbyterian Church, 249-8698
Daniel’s Community Care, 296-1055
St. Paul’s Catholic Church, 249-2600
Palms Presbyterian Church, 270-1089
Jacksonville Beach Church of Christ, 246-2457
First Christian Church of the Beaches, 246-2010