The holiday season is a time for giving. And for many people that means giving more than just presents to friends, family and coworkers, but giving time, aid or resources to Lancaster County’s many different charitable organizations.
There are plenty of ways to give back in Lancaster County including food drives, gift-wrapping opportunities and toy donations and more. Below you'll find some of those options. Know of more? Email email@example.com.
KIDS LIFT VIRTUAL FOOD DRIVE – LANCASTER (VIRTUAL EVENT)
York-based 360 Painting is taking part in the Kids Lift program to give back to vulnerable families and their schools. Their virtual food drive supporting the Manheim Township School District continues through the end of Dec. Local residents can purchase shelf-stable food items through the Amazon wish list and should choose Manheim Township School District as the shipping address.
When: Now through the Dec. 31.
RESCUE MISSION FOOD DRIVE – LANCASTER
The Water Street Rescue Mission is organizing a food drive to provide thousands of bags of groceries to struggling families and individuals this holiday season. Those interested in helping can find a list of suggested items and drop-off locations on the organization’s website.
When: Now through Dec. 19.
Where: There are various drop-off locations in Lancaster County including all Sheetz, Weis Markets, AAA Central Penn and M&T Bank locations in Lancaster County. Other locations include Boscov’s at the Park City Center, Bomberger’s in Lititz and the Water Street Rescue Mission. Find the full list at wsm.org.
More info: Visit wsm.org for more info including suggested items and drop-off locations.
HOLIDAY BONFIRE – LANCASTER
After a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum will host its annual Holiday Bonfire. The free event includes music and refreshments. Donations of non-perishable and canned food items will be accepted on behalf of the Lancaster Food Bank.
When: 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10.
Where: 2451 Kissel Hill Road, Lancaster.
More info: landisvalleymusuem.org.
UDSF GIFT-WRAPPING BOOTH – LANCASTER
The United Disabilities Service Foundation gift-wrapping booth celebrates 50 years of raising funds for adult day programming, custom wheelchairs and service dogs and other programs benefitting those with physical and age-related disabilities during the holiday season. The Lancaster-based nonprofit organization is looking for 250 volunteers – ages 14 and older – to wrap gifts during 4-hour shifts from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. Volunteers will be expected to adhere to COVID-19 protocols, wear a mask, use hand sanitizer and observe social distancing.
When: Nov. 26 through Dec. 24; noon to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Where: Sears mall hallway of the Park City Center, 142 Park City Center, Lancaster.
More info: Contact coordinator Radha Davé at 717-203-0029 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
LANCASTER REC HOLIDAY GIFT GIVEAWAY – LANCASTER
The Lancaster Rec is looking for volunteers to staff their holiday gift giveaway. Volunteers will help answers questions and restock gifts as families pick them up. Volunteers are asked to wear masks while in the building.
When: Dec. 1-4; 2-6 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m on weekends.
Where: 525 Fairview Ave., Lancaster.
More info: Visit lancasterrec.org or call Heather Dighe at 717-392-2115.
MARINE CORP LEAGUE TOYS FOR TOTS – LANCASTER
The annual Marine Corps League Toys for Tots drive collects toy donations at over 500 drop-off locations throughout Lancaster County. Last year the league distributed more than 86,000 toys to nearly 18,000 children. Monetary donations to Toys for Tots can be made online or by sending a check made out to “Toys for Tots” to P.O. Box 227, Columbia, PA, 17512. Include “Lancaster County” in the memo section of the check to ensure your donations stays in the county.
When: Toys will begin being distributed on Dec. 12 and all donations are expected to be completed by Dec. 18. Contact the organization to drop off toys after Dec. 18.
Where: Visit Lancaster-pa.toysfortots.org to find a drop-off location.
TOYS FOR TOTS WITH HOTBOX BBQ – LANCASTER
HotBox BBQ and 224 Auto host a Toys for Tots toy collection drive. Donated toys to families in need and enjoy Mississippi-style barbecue from HotBox BBQ in the 224 Auto parking lot across from the Lancaster train station.
When: Beginning 11 a.m. Dec. 11.
Where: 934 N. Queen St., Lancaster.
More info: facebook.com/hotboxbbqpa.
Other ways to volunteer
BLANKETS OF LOVE (LANCASTER)
Mill Creek Bible Church hosts their 8th annual Blankets of Love event. The church is collecting clothing, blankets, gloves, hat, scarves and more to help keep Lancaster County families in need warm during the winter months. The church is looking for volunteers to hand out donations.
When: Beginning noon Dec. 18.
Where: 270 Strasburg Pike, Lancaster.
More info: Visit facebook.com/MillCreekBible or call Brad Phelan at 717-201-8998 for more information and to inquire about donations and volunteer opportunities.
COMPEER LANCASTER (LANCASTER)
The holiday season can be an especially challenging time for people living with mental illness or people living with social isolation. Compeer Lancaster seeks to improve the quality of life of those living with, or recovering from, mental illness through friendship. Volunteers are matched with someone with similar interests, hobbies and location and provide a weekly 15-minute phone call just to talk. Volunteers are not expected to act as therapist only as a friend. Compeer provides free training to volunteers.
More info: mhalancaster.org/friends-volunteers/ or call 717-397-7461.
SHARE THE BLESSING (SUSQUEHANNA VALLEY)
The Share the Blessing non-profit collects monetary donations to help families undergoing various hardships from disease to displacement. In the past five years, the organization has raised more than $500K to help more than 850 local families and individuals in need. Nominate a family at sharethebessing.com/nominate.
When: Share the Blessing is held from mid-November through the Christmas holiday, but collects donations year-round.
More info: Visit sharetheblessing.com for more info, to make a donation or to nominate a family.