Ways to donate time, money, or gifts this holiday season

There are many ways to donate time, gifts, or money to brighten someone's holiday season. Here is a list of a few here in the Tampa Bay area:

Metropolitan Ministries

Metropolitan Ministries could use your help serving more than 20,000 families this holiday season. The holiday tents in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties open for donations starting November 6.You can click the link to the Metropolitan Ministries website for those locations and hours.

For Thanksgiving food donations, the agency is looking for mainly non-perishables, canned fruit, yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, boxed macaroni and cheese, boxed potatoes, bags of rice, canned or packets of gravy, dessert mixes and packaged pastries or cookies. If you do plan to donate turkeys, they ask that you call  in advance so they can be stored by the Metropolitan Ministries staff and volunteers.

As for Christmas food donations, they need the same items as Thanksgiving. If you would like to donate items for children, here is what they need:

- Infants: stroller and crib toys, car seats, bouncers, walkers

-Ages 1-17: Remote control cars, Legos and Lego sets, baby dolls, preschool play sets, footballs, basketballs, soccer balls, sports clothes and hats, DVD and mp3 players and educational toys and puzzles.

If you would like to donate items, or schedule a toy and food drive, you can call 813-209-1034.

Financial donations can be made online at www.Metromin.org

Metropolitan Ministries could also use volunteers to help receive donations, distribute food and toys, set up the holiday tent with donated items. To find out more about volunteering, you can call 813-209-1045 or go to www.Metromin.org

The Salvation Army Hillsborough County

The Salvation Army could use your help for the holidays.

The Hillsborough County chapter is now collecting food and cash donations for Thanksgiving. They are accepting canned goods and turkeys.

If you would like to donate for Thanksgiving, you are asked to call the development department at 813-226-0055.

They could also use volunteers to help collect donations for the Christmas. Bell ringers are needed for the Red Kettle campaign. To find out how to help in Hillsborough County, you can call Captain Lauren Boatman at 813-226-0055. You can also email her at Lauren_Boatman@uss.salvationarmy.org.

One of their biggest priorities this holiday season is the Angel Tree program, which collects toys and clothes for children in need. Christmas trees with tags listing the specific needs of children will be spread out across the area at participating businesses, churches and schools.

One of those trees will be in the lobby of ABC Action News , located at 4045 N. Himes Avenue in Tampa, beginning November 25th and ending December 13th. To participate, you take a tag off the tree, which lists the needs of a particular child, purchase the items listed and return it to the Angel Tree by December 13th. The items purchased must be new and unused.

The program does not allow any used items, toys or clothes.

They could also use volunteers to bag and tag the gifts for kids and distribute the gifts.

To find an Angel Tree near you in Hillsborough County or find out how to volunteer for the program, you can call the Salvation Army at 813-226-0055.  

United Way Suncoast

Year round, the United Way Suncoast serves approximately 500,000 people year round in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota and Desoto counties. While the organization does not take toys or food directly for the holidays, they do use financial donations to help their partner agencies.

To donate, you can visit uwsuncoast.org and click the "give" button. They are always looking for volunteers. You can click the "volunteer" button at the top of the website to get started. The agency is encouraging everyone to either give or volunteer to their favorite organization on "Giving Tuesday," which is December 3rd. This started as a movement in 2012 and occurs the day after the big holiday online shopping day, Cyber Monday. The objective is to encourage philanthropy during the holiday shopping and giving season. You are encouraged to give or volunteer with your favorite organization on that day. You can visit https://www.facebook.com/#!/tampabaygivingtuesday to share what you'll do on Giving Tuesday.

Tampa Jewish Family Services

Tampa Jewish Family Services could use your help serving hundreds of families in need this holiday season. Right now, they are collecting food, gift cards and cash to provide for families at their food bank.

They also need non-perishable food times, canned and packaged foods. They ask that none of the donated items be contained in glass.

They are also collecting for their Holiday Wish Program, to provide for families in need of all faiths. Each wish is around $10. Gifts will be distributed on December 18th. For more information, you can call 813-960-1848. If you wish to donate money, you can go to TJFS.org . You can also  drop off food, money or

gift card donations to:

Tampa Jewish Family Services
13009 Community Campus Drive
Tampa, FL 33625.

Biff's Kids For Pinellas

Biff Burger in St. Petersburg is partnering with local fire departments to provide food and toys for families this holiday season. The restaurant collects food and money donations to provide full Thanksgiving dinners for local families. The charity is also seeking food, money and toy donations for Christmas. They ask for new, unwrapped toys. Toys for the older kids are needed the most. Donations can be dropped off at Biff Burger from 6am-10:30pm, 7 days a week from now until Christmas Eve. Checks can be made out to Biff's Kids and mailed to:

Biff Burger
3939 49th Street N.
St. Petersburg, FL 33709

You can also go to  http://www.biffburgers.com/biffkids/biffkidshome.htm to make a donation with a credit card.

A receipt will be given upon request.  

They could also use volunteers to shop for toys and wrap them. If you are interested, you can contact the owner, Troy Musser, at troy@biffburgers.com.

For questions, you can call Biff Burger at 727-527-5297 or go to http://www.biffburgers.com/biffkids/biffkidshome.htm .

Sunrise of Pasco County

A domestic violence shelter could use your help this holiday season. Sunrise of Pasco County is collecting gift cards as part of their holiday giving program. The gift cards enable parents to personally buy gifts for their children.

The donation doesn't have to be big. They ask for gift cards in amounts of $5, $10 and $25. That allows those who want to give the ability to give and also makes the distribution process by the staff to families much easier. For a list of those gift cards, you can click the link to the Sunrise of Pasco County website .

If you would like to provide a tax deductible contribution, you can send it to:

Sunrise of Pasco County, Inc.

P.O. Box 928

Dade City, FL 33526.

You can also donate online at www.sunrisepasco.org .

Holiday Mail for Heroes

You can help a hero this holiday season with a simple card.

The Holiday Mail for Heroes mailbox from the American Red Cross is open until Friday, December 6.

The Red Cross invites the public to send messages of thanks and holiday cheer by mailing them to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes

P.O. Box 5456

Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

The cards must be postmarked  no later than Dec. 6 to ensure that they are delivered on time for the holidays. You are asked not to send letters, monetary donations or any other kinds of inserts with the cards. You are also asked to refrain from using glitter. You can find out more information by going to redcross.org/holidaymail .

You are also encouraged to share photos and videos of your card signing efforts or a holiday greeting for the troops by using the hashtag #HolidayMail on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Vine accounts. The Red Cross will use the material on its social media sites throughout the holiday season. You can also connect with fellow card senders through Facebook.com/redcross and Twitter.com/redcross . You can also watch videos related to the Holiday for Heroes program by going to the Red Cross YouTube Channel for videos .

Alpha Angels Program

Alpha House of Tampa is looking for help from the community for their 2013 Alpha Angels Program.

The holiday giving program is designed to empower mothers in need to provide a meaningful holiday experience for her family while working to become a self-sufficient responsible parent.

There are six ways that you can help:

1) Adopt a family - ($175 - $250)

Alpha House of Tampa will provide you with a family's wish list and their gift preferences. They request that you purchase items from the mother's list within a total budget of $100, gifts under $25 from each child's list and provide $50 in Target gift cards for each child so that the child's mother can shop for the child herself.

2) Adopt a Mom - ($100).

Alpha House of Tampa will provide you with a mother's wish list with her gift preferences. You are asked to purchase items from the mother's list within a total budget of $100.

3) Adopt a Child - ($75)

Alpha House of Tampa will provide you with a child's wish list with their gift preferences. You are asked to purchase a small gift (under $25) from the child's list and provide $50 in Target gift cards so the child's mother can shop for the child.

4) Make a donation

Alpha House of Tampa welcomes donations of gift cards of $25 or less from Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, JCPenney, Aeropostale, Claire's, Starbucks, Panera and Papa John's Pizza. You can also click the link to donate to the Alpha House online or mail your tax deductible contribution to:

Alpha Angels

Alpha House Of Tampa

201 S. Tampania Avenue

Tampa, FL 33609

5) Host a holiday

activity with your office, church or civic group. Alpha House of Tampa can provide suggestions and schedule volunteer activities during the month of December. Babysitting volunteers are also helpful.

6) Volunteer to serve on the Alpha Angels Committee

Alpha House of Tampa could use help with shopping, event planning, gift wrapping and other tasks.

You are asked to deliver any unwrapped gifts by Friday, December 6 to:

Rosalie Center at Alpha House

201 S. Tampania Avenue

Tampa 33609

Gifts can be delivered between the hours of 9am-4pm. If you have questions, you can call (813) 875-2024.

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