Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday March 21st 2018


Hope for the Holidays

By Jennifer Leigh

Every holiday season, it’s important to spread a little cheer—and hope—to those less fortunate. This year is no different.

Something as simple as a plate of food or a children’s toy gift-wrapped in bright, shiny paper can make all the difference to someone in need. And it’s no surprise that giving back makes you feel pretty great, too.

While there’s no wrong way to support your community, here are a few ideas to make the days merry and bright.

● Pop Up Pottery Palooza
Celebrate 10 years of Manna Food Pantries’ popular fundraiser, “Pick a Bowl” and “Fill A Bowl” by picking out some pottery at First City Art Center. Ticket holders will be able to pick out a handcrafted bowl from the IMPACT 100 Ceramics Studio to take home. There will also a wide selection of handcrafted pieces to purchase. Stay and enjoy the evening with food, drinks, music, and live demonstrations.

WHEN: 6-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2
WHERE: First City Art Center, 1060 N. Guillemard St.
COST: $30 per person

● Rotary Tree of Remembrance
The Rotary Tree of Remembrance is a community-wide tribute to honor loved ones and support local charities. Beginning Dec. 4, friends and family members have the opportunity to place a ribbon with the name of a loved one and a special message on the Tree of Remembrance after making a donation. The tree will be on display at the Cordova Mall through December 24. Donations will be divided among local charities, including Gulf Coast Kid’s House, The Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart, Covenant Hospice, Simon Charitable Foundation, and Rotary Charities. After the holidays on Jan. 4 at 10:30 a.m., Rotary volunteers will gather the ribbons for display during a service at the Sacred Heart Hospital conference center where checks will be presented.

WHEN: Sunday, Dec. 4-Saturday, Dec. 24
WHERE: Cordova Mall, 5100 N. 9th Ave.
COST: Donation only

● Tree of Lights
What’s more cheery than watching twinkling lights and sipping hot cocoa? The answer is nothing. The Arc Gateway will be hosting their 17th Annual Tree of Lights holiday celebration on Dec. 15. Go online and place a donation and have your loved one help “light up the way.” Enjoy special performances by the Pensacola Children’s Chorus Ambassador Choir and The Arc Gateway Choir. Come early and shop for holiday poinsettias and original artwork.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15
WHERE: Pollak Training Center, 1000 E. Fairfield Dr.

● United Ministries Christmas Honorarium Open House
On Friday, December 16, United Ministries will be open to receive honorariums and memorials made on behalf of loved ones. There will also be refreshments such as cider and coffee. United Ministries is a local nonprofit serving families who are just one crisis away from poverty. Through counseling, job coaching and even just paying a utility bill, United Ministries helps keep families in their homes and off the streets. Your donations will keep this organization going.

WHEN: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16
WHERE: United Ministries, 257 E. Lee St.

● Waterfront Rescue Mission Meal Ticket Campaign
Help feed the homeless by purchasing a bright red meal ticket for $1 or more when you visit the Waterfront Rescue Mission Bargain Centers. Proceeds from the campaign are used to provide thousands of traditional Christmas dinners for the local homeless individuals. This year, the more you give, the more you receive as each donation qualifies you to earn a #hopefortheholidays loyalty card. Each time you donate, you’re closer to earning a $5 Waterfront Rescue Mission gift card. You can also support the mission by donating gently-used goods to the nearest bargain center or purchasing gift cards for the holiday season for your favorite thrift store addict.

WHEN: Now through Saturday, Dec. 31
WHERE: Milton Bargain Center, 4467 Avalon Blvd. Pensacola Bargain Center, 2125 W. Fairfield Dr.

•Festive Plants
Head to Arc Gateway for your holiday décor. Poinsettias and Frasier Fir Christmas trees are available from the green thumbs at Arc Gateway. If you need more shopping ideas, look to the Dove Gift Shop for more homemade gifts. All proceeds support programs and services at Arc Gateway.

•Furry Friends
If you’re thinking of giving someone a squeezable puppy or a sweet kitty for Christmas, make sure of two things. First, that the recipient is ready to care for an animal, and second, that the animal comes from a local shelter. Some of our favorite local shelters include Pensacola Humane Society and Hotel for Dogs & Cats. Also, don’t forget about the Escambia County Animal Shelter, which helps free up space at local shelters and vet businesses.

•Sisterhood Gift Shop
The Sisterhood Gift Shop at Temple Beth El carries all kinds of seasonal and Shabbat items including decorations, jewelry, toys, and candles. All profits from the store go toward youth programs and the mitzvah caring program. (A note to Gentiles: mitzvah is a good deed done from religious duty.) The Sisterhood Gift Shop is open through the week.

●Winter Sale at The Gem
It’s totally OK to get excited about giving gifts to everyone on your list. And when your gifts help support local charities, it’s even better. The Gem is a donation-based, volunteer-run shop that supports Covenant Care. Stop by Dec. 9 through Dec. 11, to find all kinds of treasures during their Winter Sale. Members get a special sneak peak of the goods on Dec. 7 from 5-8 p.m.

One of the easiest, and fun, things you can do to help others around the holidays involves toys.

Next time you’re out shopping, pick up a toy and drop it off at one of these nonprofits.

Gulf Coast Kid’s House
GCKH is a child advocacy center combining all of the resources and professionals under one roof for the intervention, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse cases in Escambia County.
Drop off through Friday, Dec. 9 at 3401 N. 12th Ave.

Families First Network
FFN partners with Department of Children and Families to provide foster care and related services with network partners. FFN’s primary goal is to establish safety and provide support for abused and neglected children in Northwest Florida.
Drop off: 1221 W. Lakeview Ave.

FavorHouse of Northwest Florida
FavorHouse is a domestic violence center serving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, providing immediate assistance and long-term help for victims of abuse.
Drop off: 2001 Blount St.

Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida
Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from-home for families who travel to Pensacola to receive critical medical treatment for their children. Since opening in 1984, the local charity has served over 10,000 families. You can deliver meals to the family or toys to kids.
Drop off: 5200 Bayou Blvd.

Children’s Home Society
Levin Rinke Realty, along with Joy For the Beach in association with the Children’s Home Society, is also hosting a holiday toy drive. To get involved, you can choose a child from the Levin Rinke Realty Christmas tree at their Portofino Office (2nd Floor), 10 Portofino Dr.

You don’t have to be a master chef to feed a family. You don’t even have to cook at all. Donate non-perishables or monetary donations to these organizations to keep bellies full this holiday season.
Manna Food Bank, 116 E. Gonzalez St.
Bay Area Food Bank Panhandle Branch, 5709 Industrial Blvd., Milton
Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen, 257 E Lee St. Ste. A
Appetite for Life, 402 W. Cervantes St. 470-9111

● Give the gift of time: Bring a friend and volunteer at a local soup kitchen like Waterfront Rescue Mission or Loaves & Fishes Soup Kitchen. Interact with your community and provide a hearty meal with a smile.
● An honorary gift: In lieu of store-bought gifts, make a donation in honor of your friend towards a charity they care about. Most organizations will send a certificate to the honorary donor as a nice keepsake.
● Out with the old: When the holidays are over, and you’re putting away all the new things, take a look around your home and donate your gently-used items that you’re no longer using. Thrift stores like Waterfront Rescue Mission rely on thrift store funds to help those in need.