Although social distancing has defined this year, holiday generosity needn’t be cast away. For the upcoming season, Tucson Local Media has partnered with the Arizona Department of Child Safety for their Giving Tree Program. This program allows you to purchase holiday gifts for children in Arizona’s foster care system.
For this annual program, children tell AzDCS what they want for Christmas, and then business partners and community members purchase and deliver the toys and gifts. For this atypical year, the program is going virtual, and Tucson Local Media’s partnership allows you to purchase Amazon gift cards which AzDCS will use to buy the gifts. Visit bit.ly/35xX2Mf to see our giving tree.
“What makes this program unique is the fact people have the opportunity to buy what that child wants for Christmas, and can fulfill that Christmas wish,” said Rayetta Sanchez, community liaison for the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
The program is currently in its fifth year, and has more than 50 partners throughout the state helping the thousands of children in foster care. The program’s first year helped some 200 kids, and has gradually grown over the years. This year, the Giving Tree program is sponsoring 2,400 kids. All funds raised go to supporting foster children. The deadline to purchase Giving Tree gift cards is Friday, Dec. 4, in order to get kids their gifts in time for Christmas.
“These foster kids are already going through a difficult time, and I think with the pandemic and the shutdowns and the school closures, it’s especially stressful,” Sanchez said. “So I think it’s really important for the community to come together and partner with us, and make the holiday time fun for the kids and give them some normalcy, and communicate to them that they’re important and that people thought of them over the holidays.”
You can also help the needy in a variety of other ways this holiday season. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona is always looking for donations and volunteers, and for this holiday season, the 12th annual Season 4 Hope campaign goes through Dec. 21. This campaign organizes live drive donation drop offs every Monday at multiple locations across town where you can drop off food, new boxed toys or new packs of diapers. For a full list of locations, visit communityfoodbank.org
Grace St. Paul’s Episcopal Church hosts a variety of social services, including Joseph’s Pantry, a food ministry that has been offered to the public for more than 20 years. Locals experiencing homelessness or living on low income are able to receive monthly food bags from the pantry. According to Grace St. Paul’s, guests are offered cereal, canned meals, canned vegetables and fruits, canned meat or fish, canned beans and much more. To donate to the community food pantry, visit app.easytithe.com/App/Giving/gsp.