Where to donate coats, gifts, food and time this weekend

Give back some holiday spirit this weekend. Photo by Mosman Library

If you are not traveling, shopping or having a DIY gifting party, there are a bunch of ways to help out New Yorkers in need of coats, toys, food and holiday cheer. Here are a few: 

Donate Coats:New York Cares coat drive aims to collect a record 200,000 coats to distribute to New Yorkers in Staten Island, the Rockaways and other Sandy-ravaged areas. Click here to donate your gently used, freshly laundered coats today, create your own collection site, or volunteer to sort the coats to get them to people in need as soon as possible.

Donate Gifts/Money: If you have a little extra, consider giving a gift to someone in need through New York Cares Winter Wishes program Amazon registry. Or answer a kid’s letter to Santa through USPS Operation Santa Claus. Or donate to the Occupy registries to help with ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Donate Time:  Get out there in the community and earn that boozy Christmas orphan pot luck feast. There are lots of non-specific ways to give some holiday cheer to people in need. Consider calling your local hospital to see if they need volunteers to spend time with patients. Contact a nearby food pantry to see if they need any extra help with distribution or food service.

If you have a car, God’s Love We Deliver, an organization that prepares and delivers meals to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illness, needs volunteers to help with deliveries on Sat-Sun 12/24 and 25.

Visiting Neighbors needs hundreds of volunteer “elves” to help brighten the lives of our seniors by delivering donated gifts and spending time with an isolated senior.

Of course there are still Sandy cleanup projects. Most New York Cares projects are full for Monday and Tuesday, but you can still sign up to “muck out” some houses in the Rockaways.

Occupy Sandy is still trailblazing hurricane relief efforts. Here are some of their holiday events and opportunities to volunteer:

  • Saturday, 12/22: “Presents for Progress” gift-wrapping and card-making party for kids and families at 520 Clinton Avenue. Volunteers needed from 10am-3pm to wrap gifts and make holiday cards for children affected by Hurricane Sandy. They have toys, wrapping paper and art supplies but feel free to bring your own presents and materials. There will be cookies and hot drinks.
  • Sunday, 12/23: Volunteers needed to cook holiday meals in Occupy’s Bay Ridge Kitchen. To help arrive at 461 99th St (at Ft. Hamilton Parkway) from 8am – 6pm.
  • Pre-Festive Clean-Up in the Rockaways: Help people get back to their lives before the holidays and join Respond & Rebuild for a big clean-up this weekend. Sign up here.
  • Monday 12/24 Holiday Festivity & Potluck at Beach 33rd St: Volunteers needed to give out toys for kids and to serve food and participate in a variety show. Arrive at 10am at 520 Clinton Ave to carpool. Email leonieoccupysandy@gmail.com if you have something you would like to contribute to the entertainment. Meal donations can be delivered to Bay Ridge Kitchen (461 99th St at Ft. Hamilton Parkway).

Keep in mind that all of these charitable causes need volunteers and donations year round; the need for help does not disappear as quickly as leftover mashed potatoes.