‘Tis the time for giving, and these area organizations need your help to keep children safe and St. Louisans warm and well-fed this holiday season.
St. Patrick Center
Through its variety of programs, St. Patrick Center is able to assist more than 8,000 Missourians annually. “Our mission is to provide housing, employment and health opportunities, in the way of programs and services, for people who are homeless or are at-risk of becoming homeless,” says senior director of communications Kelly Peach.
Through its casserole program, a hot meal is served at the center every day, thanks to volunteers who follow St. Patrick Center’s recipes and prepare dishes at home in advance. Once frozen, the casseroles are transported to the downtown location, where they are heated, then served with fruit, salad, bread and dessert. “We have a hot meal served every day at noon—for a lot of people, that’s the only time they’re going to eat during the day,” Peach says.
Feminine hygiene products
Bottled water by the case
Underwear and socks
Activity play mats
Nurses for Newborns
As its name implies, Nurses for Newborns has a clear goal of providing babies with proper care. “Since ‘91, we’ve been sending registered nurses into the homes of high-risk, low-income families,” says developmental director Claire Devoto. In addition to helping in-need families, Nurses for Newborns serves teenage mothers, ill children and physically or mentally challenged mothers through specialized programs. Devoto estimates the organization helps some 3,000 babies each year.
Devoto notes that children may be especially in need during the holiday season, as no school means no free lunch. Additionally, the decrease in temperatures can cause obvious issues. “A warm blanket can make a huge difference to a baby as well as that mother who is trying to take care of that baby.”
Non-perishable food items
Baby food and formula
Diapers and wipes
Sit ‘N Spins and ExerSaucers
Winter accessories and boots for all ages
Saint Louis Crisis Nursery
During times of need, Saint Louis Crisis Nursery is there to keep children safe. “Our mission is dedicated to saving babies' lives, keeping kids safe and building strong families,” says executive director DiAnne Mueller. “We do that by providing free emergency care and support for families with children from birth through age 12.”
Mueller notes a spike in need around the holidays. “As the weather gets colder, we see families that have been living in cars or vans, or in tents in parks, that need a safe, warm place to be.” For those looking to help, she notes the constant need for volunteers to rock babies and read books to children.
Children’s DVDs rated G or PG
Diapers or Pull-Ups (sizes 4, 5 and 6)
Multicultural dolls and doll clothing
High-efficiency laundry detergent
Coats and shoes for school-aged children
New underwear and socks
Nintendo DS system
Food Outreach provides nutritional support to people living with HIV/AIDS or cancer. Greg Lukeman, executive director, explains that the organization has recently lost much of its funding—but the need has not decreased. “What we are seeing is a huge increase in demand, and a big reason for that is the recent cut to the food stamp program,” he says. “Our clients who are on food stamps are coming to us just wanting more food. This at a time when our federal dollars have been cut—and the cut is more than $100,000. We have to be creative to make ends meet; the goal is to not have a waiting list. ”
Lukeman sees an increase in business around the holidays, and explains that food drives can be a large benefit. Additionally, he notes the importance of volunteers, calling them the lifeblood of Food Outreach. "We really wouldn’t be in business without them.”
Electric can openers
Canned food items (specifically tuna in water, Mandarin oranges and salmon)
First-class postage stamps
Frequent Flyer Miles (for fundraisers)
Gas cards (for meal home-delivery program)
Circle of Concern
The Circle of Concern food pantry feeds more than 2,200 people in west St. Louis County per month. “The first half of our mission is to feed people,” says community communications director Juliet Holden. Food is provided in seven- to 10-day orders, and is distributed once per month to a family. Orders contain not just canned goods, but fresh produce, milk, eggs, frozen meat and personal care items.
“The second half [of the mission] is to create opportunities for people to re-establish themselves, and become self-sufficient again,” says Holden. “We’ve had a scholarship for decades, and we’re establishing a scholarship program for adults who want to go back to school and get job training or learn a skill.”
Canned meat, fish, chili
Gifts for teenagers
Unused brown paper grocery bags