With the chaos of the holidays approaching, don’t overlook the numerous charitable organizations in need of your time, gift donations or financial contributions. A little philanthropy can go a long way, and volunteering just might be the most relaxing thing you do this season. A sampling of worthy organizations:
Bethlehem Centers of Nashville (1417 Charlotte Ave.)
Bethlehem Centers looks to build stronger families and safer communities through a variety of services at three locations in the Nashville area. Its annual Christmas Toy Store for underprivileged kids (infants up to 13-year-olds) is open Dec. 16-18 at its Charlotte Avenue location. Volunteers are needed to play Santa and his elves during the event. The center also needs volunteers from Dec. 8-12 to decorate and set up the toy store. Volunteers should register at the center with Cheryl Hall. Wish list donation items include new, unused children’s T-shirts, socks, underwear, gloves, baby bottles, teething rings and diapers. For more information, call Janet Carter at 329-3386, ext. 129 or visit www.bcnash.org.
Catholic Charities (30 White Bridge Road)
Catholic Charities makes a special effort during the holidays to assist refugee and immigrant families who are trying to build a new life in the Nashville area. The organization seeks donations of games, bicycles, gift certificates to Wal-Mart or Target, cookware, appliances, TV sets (with antennas), toys and clothing for all ages. For more information, contact Kathy Minogue at 259-3567. Catholic Charities also offers its own Christmas Angel Tree Program, which serves struggling families in the Nashville area. Individuals, parishes, companies and civic organizations can adopt an “angel” this Christmas by calling Catholic Charities at 352-3087. Information is also available at www.cctenn.org.
Hands on Nashville (439 East Iris Drive)
Volunteering can become a habit. That’s the idea behind Hands on Nashville, which acts as an excellent resource for connecting volunteers with numerous local nonprofit organizations. HON lists many holiday volunteer opportunities and donation wish lists on its Web site, www.hon.org. To get started, register with HON online or call 298-1108.
Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots Foundation (731 Thompson Lane)
The Marine Corps delivers a message of hope to needy children through its Toys for Tots campaign, which has distributed more than 298 million toys to more than 145 million needy children across the nation during the past 55 years. Individuals may drop off new, unused toys at any of the following locations from Nov. 28 to Dec. 17: Wal-Mart, Adventure Science Museum, US Bank and Famous Dave’s BBQ. The Marines will also be collecting toys at the Coliseum before the Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts game on Dec. 7. To get involved with Toys for Tots, contact the U.S. Marines Central Reserve at 352-3386 or visit www.toysfortots.org.
Metro Police Department Christmas Basket Charities (200 James Robertson Parkway)
This charity began in 1961 with the modest mission of rounding up enough donations to provide baskets of food and toys to at least one needy Nashville family at Christmastime. This year, the Metro police will personally select and provide gift baskets for 160 Nashville families, whom they have encountered over the past year. Financial contributions from the public are greatly appreciated, as are donations of new, unused toys. To make a donation, call assistant chief Valerie J. Meece at 880-1334 or visit www.police.nashville.org.
Nashville CARES (209 10th Ave. S.)
Nashville CARES, an HIV/AIDS patient advocacy organization, will again be hosting its CARE Bears Program, featuring a holiday party for its clients on Dec. 19. Donations of staple foods, toys and personal hygiene items are needed for the party. The organization also needs volunteers to home-deliver meals to Nashville CARES clients on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Contact Dona Beu at 259-4866 for more information or visit www.nashvillecares.org.
Nashville Rescue Mission (639 Lafayette St.)
Nothing spreads holiday cheer more than the food and fellowship of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. The public can join the Nashville Rescue Mission as it hosts its annual holiday banquets for homeless men, women and children, Nov. 26-27 and again Dec. 24-25. Volunteers interested in serving and cleaning at the banquets should call 255-2475. Gift donations of clothing, food, personal hygiene items and more can be dropped off at the Mission’s Donation Center, 616 7th Ave. S. To make a cash donation online, visit www.nashvillerescuemission.org.
Ronald McDonald House (2144 Fairfax Ave.)
This holiday season, the Ronald McDonald House will be home to many families whose loved ones are undergoing treatment for cancer at area hospitals. Volunteers can help brighten up the holidays by cooking a meal for the RMH residents through the Cooking It Up at RMH Program. Individuals can also donate the following items from the RMH wish list: long distance calling cards, shower curtain liners, twin-size mattress covers, laundry detergent, snack foods and grocery store and restaurant gift certificates. For more information, visit www.rmhnashville.com or call 343-4000.
Salvation Army (631 Dickerson Road)
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program is one of the most recognized holiday giving traditions. Through the Angel Tree program, the Salvation Army identifies children in need and places them up for “adoption” to sponsor families who pledge to provide Christmas gifts for their “angel.” Information on “angels” is displayed on Christmas trees at the following shopping malls: The Mall at Green Hills, Hickory Hollow Mall, Rivergate Mall or CoolSprings Galleria. Gifts may be dropped off at the malls until Dec. 7. For information on the Angel Tree program, call 255-3394; for information on the Corporate Angel Tree program, call 255-3403. Volunteers interested in sorting, tagging and distributing gifts should call 254-0196. Visit www.salarmy-nashville.org for more information.
Second Harvest Food Bank (608 20th Ave. N.)
Numerous shelters, pantries and other nonprofit organizations depend on Second Harvest Food Bank to fill their food and personal care item requirements during the holidays. Nonperishable foods such as canned soups, canned meats, pastas, dried beans, rice, peanut butter, etc. can be donated to Second Harvest at 331 Great Circle Road. There is also a great need for volunteers to sort donated foods, particularly until February. You can also purchase Christmas cards directly through Second Harvest for $10, or make a donation in someone’s name in lieu of gifts this season. For more information or to volunteer, call 329-3491 or visit www.secondharvestnashville.org.
Youth Encouragement Services (521 McIver St.)
For over 40 years, Youth Encouragement Services has held a Christmas Store event to benefit the families of the children it serves. Last year, the Christmas Store provided clothing and gifts for 835 children, and their families received enough groceries for a complete Christmas dinner. This year’s event is Dec. 13, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Gift donations for infants up to high school ages are accepted until Dec. 7; financial contributions are also accepted to buy perishable foods and gift certificates. Volunteers are needed during the week of Dec. 8-12 to help organize gifts. Call 315-5333 for information.
Runs for Charity
10th Annual Boulevard Bolt
This 5-mile run/walk along Belle Meade Boulevard is one of the most anticipated charitable runs of the year. The Thanksgiving Day event benefits the homeless and starts at 8 a.m. from St. George’s Episcopal Church. Register for the Bolt on www.active.com or pick up a registration form at any Athlete’s House, Sport Seasons or YMCA location. For information, call 297-5356 or visit www.thebolt.org.
First Tennessee Habitrot
This Nashville Striders sanctioned 10K run and 5K walk/run benefits Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County and its mission to provide housing for low-income families. The Thanksgiving Day event begins at 8 a.m. outside of CoolSprings Galleria. To register, visit www.active.com or www.habitrot.com. Call HFHWC at 591-7077 for more information.
23rd Annual Rudolph’s Red Nose Run
On Dec. 13, Nashville Gas sponsors this 5K run/walk and 1-mile fun run/walk to benefit the Big Brothers of Nashville Energy Fund, which helps to insure warm homes for many Nashvillians during the winter months. The 1-mile run begins at the Coliseum at 8:30 a.m., followed by the 5K at 9 a.m.; the races travel through downtown Nashville before the Nashville Gas Christmas Parade. Call 851-2630 or visit www.active.com.
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