For many, the holiday season is a magical time. But nothing brings out the true spirit of the holidays like giving back. There are plenty of opportunities to give back in Lewis County this holiday season. Give a few a try—you might just find a connection that inspires you to give back all year round.

Serve Holiday Dinners

Gather Church in Centralia will be holding their annual Thanksgiving Dinner. You may come to eat, but if you are interested in volunteering you may also come to serve. Volunteers can work on November 22 in food preparation, or on November 23 in preparation, cooking, serving or delivering meals. Donations of pies are also needed for dinner. On Thanksgiving day doors open at 9:00 a.m. and dinner will be served at 1:00 p.m. Monetary donations are also accepted. For more information contact Gather Church.

Gather Church will also be hosting a dinner on Christmas Day. The doors will open at 10:00 a.m. and dinner will be served at 1:00 p.m.

In addition, Gather Church helps the homeless throughout the winter. They are in need of sleeping bags, blankets, tarps, socks, gloves, adult jackets and even Cup o’ Noodles soup.

Provide Toys for Tots

Wrapped packages are ready to be delivered in Lewis County to the children of struggling working families. Photo courtesy: The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

By donating to Toys for Tots you can have the fun of picking out a toy or, better yet, have your kids pick out a toy for a child in need. Collection stations for Toys for Tots will be set up every weekend outside of the Chehalis Walmart from November 18 until December 16 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  For additional drop off locations, monetary donations or how to apply to receive toys, check out their webpage.

Become Santa’s Helper

The Forgotten Children’s Fund provides a Christmas experience for families in need. This includes a visit to a child’s home from Santa and his team of elves who will deliver gifts and warm coats to the children, along with blankets and a food box to the family on December 23 or 24.. Typically, the families the Forgotten Children’s Fund serves are working families who do not qualify for assistance from other public or charitable organizations. Gifts can be delivered to either the Centralia or Chehalis Les Schwab location.

Santa’s Elves are ready to deliver packages to families in need. Photo courtesy: The Forgotten Children’s Fund.

Ring a Bell

Have you ever wanted to be a bell ringer for Christmas? On average, just 60 minutes of red kettle bell ringing yields enough in donations to feed 13 people. If this sounds like the perfect way to help your community, then let the Salvation Army know that you would like to volunteer through their event page and help fight to put food on the table for those most in need in Lewis County. Monetary donations are always an option for helping the Salvation Army and funds stay in your community.

Walk-n-Knock for the Food Banks

The first Saturday in December each year is the Lewis County Food drive. Every food bank may approach this event differently, but in Chehalis they mail out the Walk-n-Knock grocery bags. Residents are asked to fill the bag and leave it on their porch for collection on December 2. To help with this event, have your bag ready to go or make a monetary donation. If you would like to take it a step further and volunteer to collect food or provide transportation, you may contact Greater Chehalis Food Bank coordinator Jeff Smith at 360-748-1226. Even if you don’t live in Chehalis, you may contact a food bank near you to find out ways to contribute to this Lewis County event.

Donate Clothing for a Cause

This pickup holds 600 pounds of bounty from the Rhodes’ residence in Pe Ell. It was all delivered to Gather Church’s “Eat Free” Café in Centralia. Photo courtesy: Glean Me Lewis County.

Glean Me of Lewis County, in coordination with Value Village, is seeking gently worn clothing, towels, blankets and bed linens from now until December 15. Value Village will distribute items to the needy and also make a contribution to GleanMe.org to facilitate their 2018 Grow-a-Row and Harvest programs.

Items can be bagged or boxed and dropped off at 3575 Jackson Highway, south of Chehalis. Every donation of clothing or linen does double duty here. The goods go directly to homeless or low-income families and Value Village also gives back to Lewis County’s first gleaning organization for the hungry.

Help Furry Friends

Lewis County Animal Shelter is a fun place to volunteer if spending quality time with animals is how you want to give back. Many animals at the shelter need as much socialization as they can get to become adoptable. To volunteer at the shelter, you must be 14 years or older, fill out a packet and attend orientation, but anyone can visit the animals at the shelter. If time is an issue but you’d still like to help, consider donating treats, toys or pet food.

Donate Blood

Brad Rhodes, a Glean Me Lewis County contributor, holds a 30 pound cabbage in Pe Ell, Washington. Photo courtesy: Glean Me Lewis County.

There are many ways to volunteer for the American Red Cross. You can assist financially, help during a disaster or give blood, to name a few. If you are interested in giving blood, there will be a blood drive December 1, 2017 at the Toledo Presbyterian Church. Another blood drive will be December 18, 2017 at the Moose Lodge 1109 in Centralia.

More Ways to Give Back

The United Way of Lewis County is a great resource for connecting folks with volunteer opportunities all year long. Visit their volunteer page to learn more.

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