NORTH PROVIDENCE – For those looking to help their community and those in need this holiday season, a number of local organizations are collecting donations.
Moms of Marieville will continue to collect food and toys for the remainder of the holiday season. A food pantry run by Charlene Smith and Melissa Sampaio, MOMs collects food for those in need all year long. This Christmas season, MOMs is collecting items for families who have requested to be helped with providing food and gifts for their families.
Those in need are matched to donors who shop for the children. The donors then bring the items to Smith and Sampaio who wrap the gifts and distribute them to the family.
“We are always looking for volunteers. We don’t have every child matched yet,” Sampaio said. “In a perfect world we would, but it has not yet happened this year.”
Some of the specific items they are looking for include socks, underwear, diapers, and toys for all ages. They are also in need of Santa- or holiday-themed wrapping paper.
Sampaio and Smith said that they have seen an influx of families in need this year – currently 220 children and 80 families – and expect they may see more as the Christmas season begins.
“Families are larger, people are losing their jobs, the cost of things are rising, it runs the whole gamut,” Smith said. “It is a very large program at Christmas time, but we are available to the families all year, all the time.”
“We do not get requests for crazy things like iPads. It’s typically coats, hats, socks, PJs, and underwear,” Sampaio explained. “It’s mainly things that most people take for granted.”
Smith said they are happy to see the number of donors rise during December.
For those who are interested in donating, drop-offs are by appointment only at 905 Charles St. MOMs can be contacted through email or Facebook. Smith and Sampaio ask for donations to be dropped off by Dec. 12.
St. Mary’s Home for Children is collecting donations for the Christmas season. Similar to MOMs, St. Mary’s collects donations for the children and families they help all year. During the holiday season, they try to match donors with a child’s Christmas wish list.
St. Mary’s gives the donations to the children living on the campus as well as the ones who come for a day program. St. Mary’s Development Coordinator Ashley Stetson connects donors with a specific wish list.
“We pretty much play Santa,” Stetson said. “On Christmas day they are able to open them up and have a normal Christmas just as any other kid would.”
Stetson stated that some of the children who come for the day program come from less fortunate situations than others. For those families, Stetson works to coordinate donors to help the children attending the program, as well any siblings they have that may not attend the program.
St. Mary’s has a list of items and supplies for those who are wondering what to donate. If donations are not used for Christmas, they will go toward other events such as birthdays or an arts and crafts day. She said arts and crafts are one of their favorite activities and there is always a need for supplies.
Suggested gift donations are toys, craft supplies, games, gift cards, new clothing, earbuds, and tickets to local attractions. Cash donations are also accepted and will support programs such as therapeutic recreational activities, clinical services, and birthday parties for children in need.
Additional items needed all year include gift certificates, hygiene products, school supplies, clothing, and therapeutic items.
In past years, St. Mary’s has offered opportunities to volunteer on campus, but due to COVID, they are limiting exposure to outside sources.
St. Mary’s will be collecting donations until Dec. 15. For those who would like to participate or want more information on volunteering or being a donor, contact Stetson at email@example.com or 401-353-3900, ext. 280. St. Mary’s Home for Children is located at 420 Fruit Hill Ave., North Providence.
Following the overall theme of the Christmas drives, the Cuddles of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit organization helping to provide necessities and comforting items for children in foster care and low-income families, is also holding a Christmas drive.
Amy Antone, the president and founder of Cuddles of Hope, partners with Adoption Rhode Island year-round to provide these items to kids in foster care. This year she and her organization have also partnered with St. Joseph’s Hospital to help assist them in providing Christmas gifts for low-income families.
They are currently asking for any toys, games, personal hygiene items, and clothing for the winter, such as hats, gloves, and jackets. They are also accepting monetary donations.
“There is always a need and we are looking to supply as much as we can so that all the children can have a good Christmas and receive a gift this year,” Antone said. “Any of the monetary donations we receive we are putting toward getting the items that we need more of toward the end.”
Antone said that they are currently in the most need of toy donations due to them splitting donations between St. Joseph’s Hospital and Adoption Rhode Island
Donations can be dropped off at the North Providence Police Department, 1835 Mineral Spring Ave., and Sweet Deliveries Bakery, 2242 Mineral Spring Ave. For those who are unable to go to a donation location, Cuddles of Hope is working to pick up donations.