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Portland: Spread holiday cheer by helping in the community

If you’re like me and have already done the family dinner and gift exchange, and don’t have much plans this Christmas, it’s a good opportunity to help out others. After all, not everyone is as fortunate as you to enjoy those things.

So take this opportunity to spread the real message of Christmas and volunteer or donate to some of these nonprofit projects in Portland.

Potluck in the Park — This Thursday, Potluck in the Park is organizing a big Christmas dinner for those who may not get one otherwise. They need lots of volunteers on the day of the event, as well as the day before for preparation. Volunteer duties vary and are organized into shifts. Find more information and sign up to volunteer at this link.

Shelter at Orenco Station — This winter shelter seeks to help homeless men, women and children during the coldest months of the year. This shelter is in need of volunteers to fulfill various duties during the holidays, including serving meals and spending time with the guests. Learn more about this volunteering opportunity and sign up at this link.

Unfortunately, this late into the holiday season, one-time volunteer opportunities are scarce. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still help out. There are still several things you can do to help the cause and brighten someone’s Christmas spirit.

No matter what cause you want to contribute to, there’s bound to be a project or nonprofit in desperate need of your donations. Toy drives, Oregon Food Bank, homeless shelters, you name it. They need your help, and most of the time you can find out what they need with a simple Google search. Here are a few in the area to look into.

Portland Rescue Mission — This “faith-based” organization strives to help provide food, shelter and other basic needs for homeless families in Portland. They are in need of money donations, as well as donations of essential warmth and hygiene items — such as blankets, socks, underwear, coats, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Check out this page for more information.

Oregon Food Bank — This organization provides food to Oregon families, particularly those in need of healthy, balanced meals due to health concerns. Find out more here.

Kids Wish Network — This national organization helps children’s wishes come true through donations of toys and other children’s gifts and money. Find out more here.

Portland Fire & Rescue Toy & Joy Makers — You’ve seen them on street corners with the boots. If you would like to donate gifts or cash to Portland-area families in need, check out their website here.

Aside from making donations, Portland Rescue Mission has also suggested making care kits. By keeping care kits in your car, you’ll no longer be unprepared when you drive past someone asking for help on a street corner. Buy a package of gallon Ziplock bags, and fill them with items such as granola bars, socks, gloves, fingernail clippers and maybe even a few extra holiday-inspired items, like candy canes or cookies.

No matter what it is you decide to do, know that even the smallest effort can make a world’s difference to someone else. And everyone deserves warm, festive and happy holidays.

Follow Andrea Harvey on Twitter @@andrearharvey

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Andrea Harvey

Andrea Harvey

Andrea is an arts and culture editor for the Emerald, and recent graduate of the UO School of Journalism and Communication.