(credit: Walsh Group)

At this time of year we see real evidence of how hard some families have it…and how generous others can be. This holiday season, how about extending your cheer to the families in our area who are scraping by so narrowly that they can’t afford even the smallest gift or a nutritious meal for their children to celebrate the Holidays?

Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Department of Social Services runs an Adopt-a-Family program every year. They invite families on public assistance to apply to be adopted for one reason or another – this year reasons include terminal illness, eviction, lost job. They have one or more children, and they include a wish list for the kids in their application. Sign up to choose a family before December 9.

(credit: homegrownculvercity.com)

Beyond Shelter will match the families with the perfect family to adopt this holiday season. All of the donations need to be collected by December 11th. The majority of the families that this charity focuses on helping are single Mothers living with young children in LA County.

(credit: apch.org)

A Place Called Home offers adopt-a-family opportunities during the holiday season, and year round. After volunteering to adopt a family, A Place Called Home will match sponsored families with the perfect family to adopt.

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Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels has been helping families on Skid Row in Los Angeles for many years. Families can help support this adopt-a-family program with cash donations or gift card donations. This organization will use the donations to put together gift boxes to suit each family’s needs.

Orange County

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Families, businesses or school groups can volunteer to adopt-a-family through the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army will help match your company with the perfect family. The Salvation Army will provide a list of needs to match the families.

(credit: guidestar.org)

The Share Our Selves annual adopt-a-family program is planning to help 1,100 families in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana this year. Volunteers can donate toys, food or gift certificates at the scheduled drop-off site at the OC Fair and Events Center from December 19th though December 22nd.

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Families can support adopt-a-family anytime before the end of the first week in December. This organization is also looking for volunteers, to help build holiday gift baskets together. Volunteers can contact the organization by email to inquire about scheduling at holidays@families-forward.org.

San Bernardino

(credit: childrensfundsbcounty.org)

Until December 16, the Children’s Fund accepts wrapped gifts at the distribution center for children in need. You can adopt a child or several or you can give a cash donation that will go toward purchasing Christmas gifts for the kids in the program.

Toy Drives

(credit: Toys For Tots)

Marine Toys for Tots

More Info

The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program needs unwrapped gifts to give to children in need. There are drop-off locations available at all Toys R’ Us and Babies R’ Us Store locations. Look for the Toys for Tots drop-off location near the cash registers in your closest store. There are also other locations available that can be found on the Marine Toys for Tots website.

(credit: gatproducts.com)

Spark of Love Toy Drive

More Info

The Spark of Love toy drive has been helping to give children gifts for the past 19 years during the holiday season. Spark of Love toy drive needs unwrapped gifts and sports equipment for young children. Toys can be dropped off at any local fire station in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura County. The firefighters will help to distribute them to children within the community.

(credit: artinstitutes.edu)

The Art Institute of California Toy Drive

Restaurant 5250
5250 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollywood CA
More Info

Members of the community are welcome to donate an unwrapped toy anytime until December 16th at Restaurant 5250 in North Hollywood. The student run restaurant will be offering $10 3-course meals for every toy donation. The holiday dinner special will be available on December 8-9 from 11:30am-1:30pm. Guest can also enjoy a collection of art displayed in the restaurant by the artists who attend The Art Institute of California.

(credit: Amtrak)

Knott’s Berry Farm Toy Drive

8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA
More Info

Guests can get a complimentary admission to Knott’s Berry Farm with the purchase of a $20 item from one of the many stores located within the Knott’s Marketplace. The $20 item will be donated to Toys for Tots to benefit young children during the holiday. If guests choose to bring their own toy (valued at $20 or more) to donate, they will be given a voucher to purchase an admission ticket for only $20 to Knott’s Berry Farm.

Shelby Barone is a local freelance writer in Orange County. She is a mom to three young children and spends her free time doing volunteer work in her community. She is passionate about health, nutrition and helping people to live with food allergies. She currently writes daily at Glitterful Felt Stories.