The Gift of Giving

11 top ways to give back in Austin this holiday season

11 top ways to give back in Austin this holiday season

Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First Christmas tree holidays 2015
There are lots of ways to give back this season.  Mobile Loaves & Fishes/Facebook

The holidays are quickly approaching and we all know what that means: presents! Although we all love gifts, sometimes it's nice to give back during a time when taking is so easy. So we've created a list who needs a little help during the holiday season.

Thundercloud Sub's 26th Annual Turkey Trot
If you're already planning on working out before eating yourself into a food coma on Turkey Day, you might as well participate in the Turkey Trot. Benefiting Caritas of Austin — which is fighting homelessness, hunger, and poverty in Austin — this fun run is a great way to give back and stay healthy on Thanksgiving. 
November 24

Austin Police Operation Blue Santa
APD's Operation Blue Santa helps families in need by delivering full holiday meals along with wrapped Christmas presents for the kids. Support them by coming out for the Chuy's Children Giving to Children Parade on November 26 and enjoy giant balloons, marching bands, classic cars and Santa while donating new, unwrapped toys. You can also check the calendar for more fun opportunities to drop off toys ahead of the delivery day on December 17.
Donation collection ends December 16.

Orange Santa
Created as a way to help University of Texas families in need during the holidays, Orange Santa takes donations they've received and creates a store for the families to "shop" for toys and gifts for immediate family members. There are drop-off boxes across the UT campus where new and unwrapped gifts can be donated along with wrapping supplies.
Donation collection ends December 1.

Central Texas Food Bank
Whole Foods Market and Capital Metro have partnered for the Stuff the Bus campaign, which helps families in need receive a full holiday meal. Starting December 1, Cap Metro busses parked in front of Whole Foods locations across Austin will accept non-perishable food donations purchased at the store or brought from home. Whole Foods customers may also make cash donations to the food bank when checking out.
December 1-14

Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program
The Salvation Army has Christmas trees in malls all across Austin decorated with paper angels, each of which has a local child-in-need's wish list. Once you pick an angel and purchase the items on the list, you can drop them off at the Christmas Cheer Center on South Congress Avenue. 
Donations will be accepted through December. 

Texas Advocacy Project
Help families who have been relocated due to violent home situations. Shop from the wish list of one of the seven families chosen by the project this year and brighten up their holidays by putting presents under their tree. Texas Advocacy Project also accepts online or check donations. 
Donations are due December 2.

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA)
The organization that provides legal services for abused or neglected children is asking people to support their holiday toy drive. Make winter a little brighter for kids in foster homes by donating $30 Target and Walmart gift cards to help CASA fulfill their most popular gift requests. The gift cards can be mailed directly to the CASA office or dropped off by noon on December 5.
Donations are due December 5.

Austin Pets Alive!
APA! is bringing Santa Paws back to town. Bring your dog down to Hotel Van Zandt for a picture with Santa and enjoy complimentary refreshments for you and your pooch. A $5 donation is suggested and will help support APA!'s mission to provide care for homeless animals and keep Austin a no-kill city.
December 18

LifeWorks
LifeWorks is helping kids and families become self-sufficient and Project Holiday Help makes sure the organization's clients have a happy holiday experience. You can contribute by giving monetary donations; participating in their holiday gift card, backpack, and sleeping bag drives; or creating apartment starter kits for families moving into LifeWorks housing.
Check the website for donation drop-off locations and times. 

Meals On Wheels
Help the the meal delivery service drop off holiday dishes to seniors and disabled adults this season by volunteering to be driver. Monetary donations are also appreciated.
Volunteers are needed throughout the holiday season, especially before Thanksgiving and Christmas.

SafePlace
Help families who have experienced sexual or domestic abuse by sponsoring a SafePlace family for the holidays. You can also donate toys, gift cards, and other items needed by the Austin Children's Shelter.
Check the website for drop-off locations and times.