It’s not too late to give gifts to those in need this holiday. Support your local community and consider donating a toy to a child this season at one of the many wonderful organizations in Orlando and nearby.
We’re also sharing some information if you are looking for ways to get assistance for your family or someone you know that is in need.
Orlando Holiday Season Donations
Deadline: December 15th
With convenient online shopping options with Amazon, Walmart and Target, gift donations can be paid for online and shipped directly to New Hope. Alternatively, unwrapped gifts and gift cards can be donated in person at their Maitland location with prior arrangement.
To sponsor a child or family, or to review the gift drive wish list, please visit their website.
Deadline: December 17th
If you’re a fan of science or know a kid who is, you’ll know that receiving a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gift is going to inspire a lot of growth in our youth. Find tons of creative STEM toys at Macy’s or perhaps at our very own Orlando Science Center gift shop!
Gift donations can be made through December 17th at one of three drop off locations in the area, or consider attending their “Elfing Day” closeout event at Rock & Brews in Oviedo on December 17th from 10am-3pm to make your final donations.
Requested gift donations should be for middle to high school age children, with a focus on not only STEM toys but also books in Spanish, gifts highlighting women and minorities, and all must be new and unwrapped.
Deadline: December 22nd
This one couldn’t be easier. Next time you drop into IKEA for some shopping or one of their delicious hot dogs, consider picking up a plush toy, game, or book for a child in need. Donations go to the Foundation for Foster Children, a local organization serving Florida foster youth.
Find donation bins by the exit near the checkout in store.
Deadline: January 16
There’s even a toy drive for pets! Don’t forget the furbabys this season, who need enrichment in their shelters too. This won’t cost anything to assemble and deliver to your local shelter, because all they are asking for is things like paper towel tubes, socks and water bottles so that they may creatively assemble fun toys for the shelter animals.
Involve your kids in looking around the house for some of the requests (found on their website), and make a trip to visit your local shelter together.
Year-Round Giving in Orlando
In many cases, toys aren’t the only need for the holidays. Please consider donating to One Heart’s program, requesting everything from personal care items and toiletries to diapers and gently used toys and clothing.
I may be biased because my mother has been volunteering here for nearly 15 years, but this local charity is one of the most endearing places to help a family in need. Providing a home to families with children in critical condition in the neighboring Central Florida hospitals, toys are always something this charity needs.
They have something they call the “Treasure Room”, where families year-round can select a toy for their sick child, or for the well children staying with them during their stay. For this, the Ronald McDonald House always needs new, not oversized toys (due to storage so no bikes or big cars), and they especially love to receive general all year round toys like drawing books, markers, and crayons.
Drop off any of their 3 locations, and call ahead if you have a large quantity of donations.
I heard about this group through my company fundraiser a couple of years back. Although not local to Orlando, their outreach is Nationwide. Their credo is that poverty is not just something we need to take a lens to during the holidays, it’s a year-round crisis. Their mission is to gather clothing and necessary supplies for children who have what is referred to as clothing insecurity.
This program accepts things like jackets and outerwear for the winter, boots, baby supplies, books and school gear, and more. Donate online or get paired up with a child in their Giving Factory direct program.
Ship items for free directly to a child in need and keep the gifting chain going by sharing about this wonderful program with your community, as well.
Now this one is cool. Clean out your closet and repurpose those Legos for a child in one of the participating youth programs. Something you can do year-round, this is a great way to promote children’s skillsets with problem solving and creative thinking.
If You Are a Family In Need
Do not hesitate to reach out to one of the following:
One Heart provides a weekly food pantry donation in College Park from 12-3pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays. For more details on where to receive needed supplies, review the website. In addition to food offerings, those in need can purchase inexpensive household items like clothing and toys at their Thrift Store.
For those who cannot afford to purchase items, eligible volunteers can receive vouchers for goods in exchange for their time volunteering in the thrift store and food pantry.
Join your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook. Search for the term “Buy Nothing College Park”, for instance and you will be able to browse the items people are giving away for free in your community. You will find that the community is very giving and helpful, even if you have a specific request. I personally have found many wonderful treasures for my little girl on this page, saving me hundreds of dollars in toys and costumes. You can also get furniture, clothing and even food items.
Put on your calendar for next year…
Toys for Tots has an annual registration for toy requests that is now closed for 2023. For considerations for 2024, review the registration requirements at their website.
Deadline: December 10
Likely one of the most well known holiday toy drives, Toys for Tots in Orlando and Seminole Counties offers two types of donation options. Donate a toy in one of the dozens of local store options, or make a monetary donation online through their website.
Those wishing to volunteer for an upcoming toy drive will need to register in October 2024.
Deadline: December 11
Talk about options! This annual holiday toy drive 13 years running gives busy parents many ways to purchase and donate toys. Choose from one of the nearly 40 donation locations at local parks, libraries and fire stations, or consider one of their online shopping options.
With the online shop, virtual shoppers can purchase online goods up through Monday, December 4th. These goods will be delivered to the Holiday Warehouse just in time for Christmas. If you are a business or community group, you can even consider creating an online team drive, similar to using an Amazon Wishlist for a classroom.
All of this and more information is available at the website. They will not be accepting cash or plush toys and all gifts that are donated must be new and unwrapped.