While sporting a Santa hat and beard, Dominic Bjerken, 13, hands out balloons as children arrive at the 12th annual Miracle En El Barrio at St John's Catholic Church in 2014. 

This year has been incredibly difficult for so many people and the holidays will be drastically different for many people. 

If you're able to give, there is still plenty of time to spread a little holiday holiday cheer to Tucson kids, families and seniors in need. 

Many organizations have also set up virtual ways to donate money toward gifts or shop virtual wish lists, so you're able to give without having to leave the house.

Here are just a few ways to to help others in our community. 


Toys for Tots Tucson

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in Tucson collects tens of thousands of new, unwrapped toys each year for children in Pima and Santa Cruz counties.

The big need right now are toys for infants to age 2 and for older kids ages 8-14, says Sgt. Hannah McMullin, Tucson Toys for Tots assistant coordinator. Toys are grouped based on the recommended ages on their labels. Some ideas for older kids include headphones, wallets, board games, bluetooth speakers and bath and body items.

The organization asks that toys not exceed $20 per item, so if you're feeling extra generous it's best to buy several items in that price range instead of one big expensive gift. 

Where to donate: There are several options for dropping off toys.

Toy collection boxes can be found at all Tucson Fire Department and Rural/Metro fire stations through Dec. 21. 

In partnership with KVOA, Toys for Tots has two upcoming drop off donation events:

You can also drop off donations directly with Toys for Tots at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base by Dec. 23. Call 520-354-3667 ahead of time to make arrangements to drop off at the base. 

Where toys will be distributed: This year, Toys for Tots is distributing toys to various organizations in the community. If your family is looking to receive a toy, contact the following organizations: 

  • Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, contact Adam Ortiz at 520-906-0612. 
  • Healing Grace Christian Church, contact Oliver at 520-312-9316
  • New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, contact Sheila Frazier at 520-977-4390
  • Flowing Wells Assembly of God, contact Elizabeth Parker at 520-465-8355
  • Aviva Children's Services. This organizations is only distributing toys for children in foster or kinship care, children do not need to be receiving services at Aviva. Contact Yvette Hart at 520-327-6779.

More information: Find more details on the Toys for Tots Tucson website


Miracle en el Barrio

Nova Home Loans has been hosting Miracle en el Barrio, an event distributing toys to children who live on Tucson's south side for 18 years. This year they aim to collect at least 2,500 toys for distribution, Nova Home Loans employees collect many of the donations but they also invite the public to contribute as well. 

Where to donate: Donate any new or unwrapped toy at any Nova Home Loans office during business hours through Tuesday, Dec. 15. 

Where toys will be distributed: Miracle en el Barrio will be a drive-thru event this year. Families are asked to stay in their vehicles and all children who will be receiving a toy must be present.

The event will happen Friday, Dec. 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, 4823 S. Sixth Ave. Santa will visit and wave to families as they drive through. 


Salvation Army Christmas Angel Tree

This program, which helps families in need each year and is known for its Christmas trees filled with the wish lists of Tucson kids, has a virtual component this year if you'd like to contribute but can't make it out to pick up a wish list. 

Where to donate: You can contribute monetary donations toward the cost of one gift, or to fulfill a child's entire wish list online on the Salvation Army's website

Christmas Angel Trees are also set up at the following locations and donations will be collected through Dec. 24: 

More information: Learn more on the Salvation Army Christmas Tree website


 Winter Coat and Blanket Drive 

The Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness, a coalition of several organizations and agencies committed to ending homelessness, is collecting new and gently used, clean blankets and winter coats. The items are distributed through "programs providing crisis services to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Tucson and surrounding communities," according to the coalition's website. The coalition says about 600 Tucsonans sleep outside each night and these items will help keep them warm during the winter. 

Where to donate: The coalition has set up an Amazon wish list, where you can purchase items and have them sent directly to the organization online. 

Blankets and coats can be dropped off at the following locations in Tucson: 

  • Primavera Foundation, 811 S. Sixth Ave., Monday and Wednesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 

  • Salvation Army Hospitality House, 1002 N. Main Ave. Daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

  • Naughton's Air Conditioning, Cooling and Plumbing, 6062 E. Speedway Blvd., Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

More info: Find more information on the Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness website


Pima Love Notes 

You can send a little holiday cheer to isolated seniors in assisted living facilities who can't see their loved ones this season through the Pima Love Notes project. 

You can create your own card, letter or drawing with a thoughtful and positive message, or use one of the downloadable templates the Love Notes project has made available to write your message. Find more info about the project and the list of facilities accepting cards on the Pima Love Notes website


Be a Santa to a Senior

Home Instead Senior Care's holiday gift drive for seniors in need is completely virtual this year. 

Where to donate: Visit the Be a Santa to a Senior website to see the "virtual tree" with light bulbs that links to Amazon wish lists with items selected by Tucson seniors.

You can purchase the item you'd like to gift online and Home Instead will deliver it to the designated person. 

Visit the Be a Santa to a Senior website to learn more about the program and view the program guide for detailed instructions about giving a gift. 


UA BookStores Children's Book Drive

You can share the joy of reading with Tucson children by donating new or gently used picture books to the UA BookStores Book Drive benefiting Make Way for Books. Donations will be accepted through Monday, Dec. 21. You can bring in your own books or purchase one in the store or online to donate. 

Where to donate: 

More information: Find more details on the UA BookStores website


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