As the economy continues to right itself, many Valley families are still struggling to make ends meet. North Central residents who want to help these struggling neighbors this holiday season have several ways to do so, right in your own back yard, whether by purchasing items or volunteering your time.

Desert Mission

Through the Adopt-A-Family program, community members purchase toys and a holiday meal for struggling neighbors; adopters can choose the size of the family they wish to serve. Adopters can then deliver the gifts to them directly or bring them to the Food Bank for the family to pick up. In order to be matched with a family in time for the holidays, you must contact Desert Mission by Nov. 30. If you can’t do the shopping yourself, you can make a financial donation. Contact Mallory Lebovitz at the Foundation office to learn more: 602-331-7856 or For more information about the program itself, visit

Volunteers help wrap presents selected by children, for their parents, from the Winder Wonderland “shopping” area, hosted by Phoenix Rescue Mission each year for poor and homeless families (photo courtesy of Phoenix Rescue Mission).

Volunteers help wrap presents selected by children, for their parents, from the Winder Wonderland “shopping” area, hosted by Phoenix Rescue Mission each year for poor and homeless families (photo courtesy of Phoenix Rescue Mission).

Phoenix Rescue Mission

For poor and homeless families struggling to make ends meet, Phoenix Rescue Mission hosts a Winder Wonderland Community Event on Saturday, Dec. 19 at the Shelter Campus, 1801 S. 35th Ave., from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The public is asked to purchase new, unwrapped toys for children ages birth to 14, as well as small household items and personal gifts for moms and dads. The gifts will be placed in a “shopping” area, where the children and parents will “shop” for each other, and then be able to wrap the gifts.

Also needed are donations for the event including: hot chocolate, marshmallows, candy, plain sugar cookies and frosting to decorate them. Gift donations can be dropping off starting Nov. 1 at its donation center, 1468 N. 26th Ave. Volunteers also are needed the day of the event to set up and tear down, run activity stations, wrap gifts, and chaperone kids as they get their Christmas gifts. Call 602-346-3363, e-mail  or visit

Duet: Partners in Health & Aging

Duet is hosting a holiday party on Monday, Dec. 21 for families who participate in its various kinship programs and support groups. These families are comprised primarily of grandparents who are now raising their grandchildren. Duet hopes to find community volunteers to provide one gift to each of the 150 children at the holiday party. Gifts are especially needed for those ages 12-18, and suggested items include movie passes, retail gift cards, bath and shower products, jewelry, and small electronics.

Donated gifts can be dropped off at the Duet office, 555 W. Glendale Ave., at the southeast end of the parking lot. Unwrapped gifts should be dropped off no later than Wednesday, Dec. 2. For more information, call Patricia Dominguez at 602-274-5022, ext. 31 or e-mail

MAM Toy Drive

The Military Assistance Mission (MAM) of Arizona once again hosts a toy drive to benefit children of military families in the Valley of the Sun. Dollar Tree stores in Arizona will be collecting new, unwrapped toys from Nov. 1 to Dec. 3. Participating locations include: Christown Spectrum Mall, at 19th Avenue and Bethany Home Road; 8913 N. 19th Ave., just south of Dunlap Avenue; and 13206 N. 7th St., just south of Thunderbird Road. For more information, contact Kim Chitwood at or 602-574-8037.

Operation Christmas Child

This month, nine locations across the Phoenix area will serve as collection sites for Operation Christmas Child—the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind. The annual Samaritan’s Purse project spreads joy to millions of children around the world by filling shoeboxes with fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement. During National Collection Week, Nov. 16-23, Phoenix residents hope to contribute more than 8,100 gift-filled shoeboxes to the 2015 global goal of reaching 11 million children in need.

In North Central Phoenix, drop-off locations include:
Bethany Bible Church, 6060 N. 7th Ave. Drop-off hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Nov. 16-19; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 20; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 21; 1:30-5 p.m. Nov. 22; and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 23.
Parkway Church, 1751 E Maryland Ave. Drop-off hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. & 5-7 p.. Nov. 16; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 17; 4-9 p.m. Nov. 18; 3-7 p.m. Nov. 19-20; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 21; 1-4 p.m. Nov. 22; and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 23.

For more information about how to participate in Operation Christmas Child, call 602-510-0871. With a computer or mobile device, anyone can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website. Go to to select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries.

Other ways to help

Each year, Desert Mission distributes turkeys and holiday food to more than 3,000 families. You can help low-income families create lasting memories around their own tables by hosting a drive, donating a turkey or making a cash donation through the Desert Mission Turkey and Holiday Food Drive. Drop off your donation between 7 and 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, and Friday, Nov. 20, at Desert Mission, 9229 N. 4th St., or John C. Lincoln Medical Center, 250 E. Dunlap Ave. If you, your department or company would like to host a drive to collect turkeys, canned holiday items or funds to support the program, call 602-331-7860.

The Auxiliary for VFW Post 9400 in Sunnyslope is holding a Thanksgiving food drive to fill the boxes for 32 needy families in the area. All non-perishable donations are welcome. Donations should be new/unopened and delivered to the post, 804 E. Purdue, no later than Friday, Nov. 20. The boxes will be put together on Sunday, Nov. 22. The Walmart Neighborhood Market at Central and Dunlap avenues has several Thankgiving items on sale right now including Stove Top stuffing, canned cranberry, canned sweet potatoes, scalloped potatoes, and more. For more information, e-mail or call the Post at 602-943-9930.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance will hold its seventh-annual Super Saturday Turkey Drive on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Food Bank is anticipating requests for tens of thousands of holiday food boxes. In addition to the goal of 9,000 turkeys St. Mary’s hopes to receive through donations, all other non-perishable food items as well as monetary donations will gladly be accepted during the event. Drop-off locations near Central Phoenix include St. Mary’s Food Bank Stardust Campus, 2831 N. 31st Ave., and Albertson’s, located at 8035 N. 19th Ave. Donors who fill out a form will have the chance to win a $500 US Airways/American Airlines voucher. For more information, visit or call 602-242-FOOD.

The Phoenix Rescue Mission offers two ways to help this month. On Sunday, Nov. 8, drop off a frozen turkey and tour Phoenix Rescue Mission’s shelter at 1801 S. 35th Ave. (south of Buckeye). The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Then on Saturday, Nov. 21, take part in the “Fill-a-Box Feed a Family Turkey Delivery” event, also at the Phoenix Rescue Mission’s shelter. Build on-site or bring to donate a Thanksgiving Food Box (previously donated turkeys will be provided) and then deliver it to a family in need. This year’s goal is to provide Thanksgiving dinner to 1,500 families. Volunteers will be assigned specific times to arrive, between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., in order to receive their community family for delivery. For more information, call 602-346-3363, e-mail or visit


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