In the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, there are those out there who struggle to put food on the table on a daily basis and are in much need of finding the resources to put presents underneath the Christmas tree.
The Christmas Holiday Bureau in Scranton is just one of many organizations that helps families in need. They interview potential families and then determine if they are income eligible.
“If that’s the case, they then will receive Walmart gift cards that are purchased through donations from the community,” said Nancy Post, director of volunteer initiatives, Christmas Holiday Bureau.
She said while many other organizations provide toys for Christmas, the giftcards allow them to buy whatever the need.
“That may be toys, but it also might be food or clothing for their children,” Post said. “It gives them the opportunity to make that decision at that particular time.”
She said in the last few years, businesses are also collecting donations from their offices and in turn, giving the money to the Holiday Bureau.
They are about halfway to their goal.
“We are still looking for donations so that we can help all of our families,” she said.
Last year, the Christmas Holiday Bureau helped about 1,000 families (about 3,000 people) and this year they expect to do the same. The organization, through the Voluntary Action Center, has been helping families since 1950.
“I think there are probably families out there that either can’t get to us or don’t know that we are here,” she said. “It is a big need we are seeing. Larger families who are always looking for help.”
Charitable giving has steadily been rising. According to charitynavigator.org, an online website that tracks donations and organizations, estimates in 2016, people made $390 billion in donations to charitable causes. Many of those increase around the holiday season.
For families looking for toys to give their children this Christmas, United Neighborhood Centers in Scranton will open their Christmas Toy Store on December 21 for needy families.
“It’s for families who really need the help,” said Claire Haggerty, director of grants and communication at United Neighborhood Centers. “Families can come in and choose what they need.”
Haggerty said they are looking for new, unwrapped toys. She said the need is growing in the Scranton area.
“These families really want to provide gifts for Christmas,” she said.
She said businesses that also to help can do so as well — whether that be donations that they will pick up or doing an angel tree.
“Families who need it will really appreciate the help this Christmas,” she said.
If you’d like to help:
Christmas Holiday Bureau, 829 Jefferson Avenue, Scranton, PA 18510 – 570-347-5616
United Neighborhood Centers, Scranton, 410 Olive Street, Scranton, PA 18509 – 570-343-8835