12 ways to help others this holiday season

By Ashley Mackin

The most wonderful time of the year can be made more wonderful for San Diego’s underprivileged population with your help. Several organizations are hosting opportunities to donate toys, clothing and food this holiday season. For many children, donated toys are the only gifts they receive. While not all local, many of these organizations have local drop-off locations.

  1. American Red Cross

About: Though not a local organization, the American Red Cross serves those affected by Superstorm Sandy and other natural disasters.

What to donate: Though previous donations were greatly appreciated, officials say the Red Cross is only asking for financial donations.

How to donate: Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-red-cross, text RED CROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or mail a donation to American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington D.C., 20013 or the local chapter at 3950 Calle Fortunada, San Diego, CA 92123.

Additionally: The Smiles for Soldiers program is also available through the Red Cross. Donations of varying amounts grant gifts to soldiers for the holidays. A $20 donation sends a phone card to a soldier. A $50 donation sends a comfort kit that includes a robe, shower shoes, toothpaste, an MP3 music gift card and other comforting items. A $75 donation provides a training course for families of service-members for when they return home.

Contact: redcross.org or (858) 309-1200

  1. Toys for Tots

About: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve- based toy drive has been collecting donations for children since 1991, which are distributed at Christmas.

What to donate: New, unopened and unwrapped toys that are appropriate for children under 12.

How to donate: Drop off toys at La Jolla Home Theater and Automation, 6837 La Jolla Blvd., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., for more information, call Danielle Ryan at (858) 750-3177. Or Best Buy, 8657 Villa La Jolla Drive, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., for more information, call Robin Fekete at (858) 587-6379.

Deadline: Dec. 18.

Contact: toysfortots.org or (858) 967-1269

  1. San Diego Food Bank

About: The San Diego Food Bank, which serves some 400,00 San Diegans, is hosting a food drive for the holidays.

What to donate: Canned meats (tuna, ham, chicken), canned soups, canned fruits and vegetables, dried goods (such as dried beans, pasta, rice, and other grains); peanut butter; and infant formula.

How to donate: Donations can be dropped off at any Vons, including the 7544 Girard Ave. location.

Who benefits: San Diego residents and families living in poverty.

Additionally: La Jolla High School is collecting canned goods through Dec. 9 to go to the Food Bank. They are not accepting perishable goods or glass.

Deadline: While there is no deadline for donations, the Food Bank will distribute food through Dec. 31.

Contact: sandiegofoodbank.org or (858) 527-419

  1. Promises2Kids

About: Promises2Kids is a non-profit which gives toys to Foster Children during the holidays.

What to donate: New, unused, unwrapped toys and gifts for children, ages infancy to 18.

How to donate: Bring toys to Blended Industries, 1025 Prospect St. #220; Prepkitchen, 7556 Fay Ave.; Sunrise La Jolla, 810 Turquoise St.; Symbolic Motor Car Co., 7440 La Jolla Blvd.; Hyatt Regency La Jolla, 3777 La Jolla Village Drive; Bird Rock Elementary, 5371 La Jolla Hermosa Ave.

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