For those looking to maintain an outward focus this holiday season, there are a number of local organizations to help.
Cristina Riendeau, the founder of the Blessing Box in Cumberland, has been asking for an assortment of winter apparel, toiletries, and non-perishable foods that are easy to open.
“Sweatshirts of all sizes are needed, as well as sleeping bags and tents,” Riendeau said. “Pop-top food, feminine hygiene items, gloves, socks, bar soap, and hats have been the first items to clear out of the Blessing Box.”
In addition to being the manager of the Blessing Box and making sure it is stocked, Riendeau also partners with Help the Homeless RI and CommUnity Volunteers of RI to provide donations to the needy.
In North Providence, We Share Hope has partnered with volunteers from Fogarty Center’s Adult Day program to create the Pantry Pickup program. The Pantry Pickup program, spearheaded by Johanna Corcoran, the executive director of We Share Hope, lets people fill out a form online and has volunteers come to their house and pick up donations set outside on their front porch.
This season, Corcoran said that they are specifically asking for soup donations, as it lends itself to be a classic winter dish and great for the holiday season.
“We have warmth on our minds this winter with our ‘Season of Soup’ canned soup drive,” Corcoran said. “Soup is always needed, and serves as a soul-warming meal for anyone in need.”
“This program is a win-win: helping feed our Rhode Island neighbors, and giving Fogarty clients an opportunity to be involved with the community,” Corcoran said. ”Donors just need to fill out the Pantry Pickup form on We Share Hope’s website and we will be in touch with the day our Fogarty volunteers will pick up the soup donations.”
For those looking to donate to specific families or individuals, Woonsocket Adopt-A-Family is looking for more donors in order to anonymously match more than 1,800 children in over 900 low income families living in Woonsocket.
Debbie Mitchell, the treasurer at Woonsocket’s Adopt-A-Family, stated that there are still kids waiting to be “adopted” by a donor. She stated that in past years they have matched every child with a donor but this year there is a higher ratio of recipients to donors.
Mitchell said that those who sign up to be a recipient are likely to not have any Christmas gifts without a donor providing them due to them being in low income households.
For those who are unable to adopt a child this holiday season but still want to help, monetary donations are accepted. They can be sent through the website by Paypal or mailed to Adopt-A-Family, PO Box 7665, Cumberland, RI, 02864.
John Johnson, founder of Happy Baskets, a non-profit organization in Cumberland, helps to provide holiday meals for families in need. Johnson stated that he has seen more families than ever ask for assistance. He said that he believes some of this has come from the prices of food increasing too rapidly for people to provide for themselves and their families and with many people loosing their jobs in the meantime.
Happy Baskets asks for food, toys, clothes, and financial donations. Johnson said that specifically this year they are in need of soups, peanut butter, and stuffing.
Food donations for Happy Baskets can be dropped off at the Cumberland Senior Center. Donations are accepted through Wednesday, Dec. 15.
Monetary donations for “Happy Baskets” can be mailed to P.O. Box 7611, Cumberland, RI 02864. For more information, call John Johnson at 401-487-1282 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Good Neighbor Energy Fund is available to any Rhode Islander who, because of financial difficulty, needs assistance paying a current energy expense and meets eligibility guidelines. It is administered by United Way of Rhode Island. Donations come from the general public, businesses and local community organizations. Contributions to the fund qualify as 501©(3)tax-exempt donations. To donate or for more information, visit unitedwayri.org .