Due to the pandemic, more families than usual are facing financial hardships this holiday season. The unemployment rate in Austin was 5.1% this October, up from 2.6% last year. One great way to help our neighbors who are struggling this year (and any year) is to adopt a family for the holidays. Fortunately, our city has plenty of wonderful organizations committed to this cause.

If you are financially able to “wrap up” the year by spreading some cheer, here is a list of local places that are dedicated to sponsoring/adopting families for the holidays:

Austin Child Guidance Center

This nonprofit is dedicated to providing mental health services to the Austin community. Fifty percent of donations go directly to the family in the form of gift cards for holiday shopping. The other half helps to offset the cost of ACGC services for that family. Find out more about donations here.

Austin Police Operation Blue Santa

Operation Blue Santa traditionally provides food and toys to disadvantaged families with children 14 and younger. They estimate they will serve over 8,000 families in need this year. Due to COVID-19, Operation Blue Santa is not giving out toys this year. Instead families will receive food and toy gift cards. Financial donations can be made via their website. They also will host Meet Blue Santa & Mrs. Claus days at designated Schlotzsky’s during December. Operation Blue Santa will receive 25% of the stores’ proceeds on those days. You can find the schedule here

Brown Santa

This program provides holiday food boxes and toys to underprivileged families. The families serviced must have children 14 and younger and live outside of the Austin city limits, but within the unincorporated areas of Travis County.  You can donate new, unwrapped age-appropriate toys and unopened non-perishable food. Brown Santa also accepts monetary donations. Volunteers are needed at their warehouse where strict, doctor-approved COVID-19 procedures will be in place. Click here for more information.

Orange Santa

Orange Santa provides help to families in the university community during the holidays. This year the program will be completely virtual. Donations will be accepted through November 30 via the HornRaiser campaign website. Each child under 17 will receive a gift card to brighten their holiday season. 

Partnerships for Children: Holiday Wishes

Through Partnerships for Children’s Holiday Wishes program, you can help a child who is currently in Child Protective Services experience a bit of joy during their holiday break. Sponsors receive a child’s name, age, clothing size and wishes. Gifts must be shipped by December 1st or dropped off at the warehouse by December 11th. You can also host a general gift drive or provide a monetary donation.

SAFE Alliance

SAFE stands for Stop Abuse For Everyone and is a merger between the Austin Children’s Shelter and SafePlace, two organizations in Austin that help the survivors of child abuse, sexual assault and exploitation, and domestic violence. There are three ways you can help out families during the holidays through the SAFE Alliance: 1) Sponsor a wishlist 2) Shop for the Shelves and 3) monetary donations. Click here to be taken to their website.

The Salvation Army 

The Salvation Army Austin Angel Tree program helps struggling families in Travis and Williamson counties. You can adopt up to 10 children and/or seniors via the organization’s website. The website gives volunteers specific the recipients specific wishes for gifts, toys and clothing.

Texas Advocacy Project

This mission of this team of attorneys, staff and volunteers is to provide legal and advocacy services to survivors of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.  From now until December 4, you can  participate in their Hope for the Holidays initiative. You can adopt an entire family of survivors and their children or shop directly from a family’s wishlist. Monetary donations are also welcomed.

Adopting a family is just one of the many ways you can help the struggling Austin community during the holidays. Some other great programs that need your help include: Toys for Tots, Central Texas Food Bank and Coats for Kids. What other amazing organizations need our help in 2020?

Photo Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography

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