By MEGAN HUSSEY
Foster Parent Association of Hernando County
As president of the Foster Parent Association of Hernando County, Linda Hoins counts holiday gift-giving among the favorite parts of her job.
"These are kids who came from homes with no money, and they haven't gotten that many gifts," she said. "Their eyes light up. They're thrilled."
FPAHC is one of a number of nonprofit organizations offering holiday help to children in need this year. The group is hosting a Dec. 14 holiday party for the kids they serve, and is still seeking donations of new clothes and toys, along with gift cards, through Dec. 21.
"These will go to foster kids, adopted kids, kids in need," she said. "I love to help everyone."
Foster Parent Association of Hernando County is still in need of food donations for their Dec. 14 holiday party, and is looking for someone to perform music at the event.
Send all donations to Foster Parent Association of Hernando, PO Box 15195,
Spring Hill, Florida 34609, or call (352) 754-0377 and visit https://www.facebook.com/FosterParentAssociationOfHernando/ for more information.
The Matthew Project
The Matthew Project, a Hernando-based organization for homeless and impoverished children, also needs help to brighten the holidays of less fortunate children in the area.
"We have churches, organizations, businesses, and individuals sponsor the children," said Monte Patterson, The Matthew Project. "This year we have 634 children from Hernando County Schools and still need sponsors, monetary donations, and gift cards."
For more information about how to help homeless and impoverished children in Hernando, call 352-279-5985 or visit https://www.facebook.com/thematthewproject1225/
Students at Hernando schools also will benefit from the district's Angel Trees, which come complete with tags specifying the gift requests of students in need, and organizations such as Operation HeartF.E.L.T., which provides pupils in need with backpacks filled with nutritious meals that will feed them during weekends and holidays away from school. For more about the angel trees, call Hernando Schools at 352-797-7000. To help feed hungry children during the winter holidays, visit http://www.operationheartfelt.com
Families served through the Dawn Center Domestic and Sexual Violence Services also benefit greatly from community contributions, says Shannon Sokolowski, MNM, Executive Director.
"Actually, food and presents for moms and teens are the largest needs we have for the holidays. We are so thankful to get plenty of support for small children, but it is more difficult to support teens and adults through this season," she said. "Gift cards to grocery stores, big box stores, and gas stations are a big help for the center and survivors we serve alike. Plus, they are easy to collect and easy to transport (fit in all sizes of cars)."
Those who wish to mail gift cards to Dawn Center can send them to PO Box 6179, Spring Hill, FL 34611. Anyone who wishes to support a holiday food drive for the center can contact the center's Community Engagement Coordinator at [email protected]
Salvation Army Brooksville/ Hernando County
And as always, The Salvation Army Brooksville/Hernando County is offering a multitude of ways for the public to brighten the holidays of needy citizens.
"We have several opportunities for people to give and benefit others this Christmas season," said Lt. Julie Chamberlain, who along with Lt. Mike Chamberlain serve as corps officers for the Salvation Army in Hernando County. "Our Angel Trees are out at the area Super Walmarts, Starbucks on Cortez, RedRoom Salon, and IHOP on 19. Anyone interested in adopting an Angel can take a tag from one of our trees and shop for the items listed. Those items can then be dropped off at our office at 15464 Cortez Blvd. during the week. They are due back on or before 12/16. These gifts go a long way toward brightening the Christmas of families in need."
"Also, we have started a Silver Bells program for our senior angels that might otherwise be overlooked this time of year. Their tags will be on the trees as well," said Chamberlain. "Our kettles are at various locations around Hernando County. We are encouraging anyone who is interested in volunteering to go to our website: salvationarmyflorida.org/hernando click on the register to ring banner at the top to sign up for available shifts. One fun suggestion we have is to get a group together and try to fill the whole day."
Anyone who would like to sponsor a Salvation Army Kettle can contact Lt. Mike Chamberlain at (352) 796-1186.
"Sponsors can have a sign hung at the Kettle site of their choice with their logo, family name, or even in memory of a loved one to let the community know of their support," said Julie Chamberlain.
And as always, food donations are needed at the Salvation Army food pantry.
"We are always accepting food items to stock the shelves of our pantry which is open every Tuesday throughout the year," said Julie Chamberlain. "We do see an increase in these needs this time of year and we appreciate those who support us year round in providing food for families in need in Hernando County."
And aside from seeking holiday help, the Salvation Army seeks community support long after the kettles and Christmas lights are gone.
"The funds raised during the Christmas season are used to support our programs through the entire year," said Julie Chamberlain. "We appreciate the support and generosity of this community as we try to do the most good for the people in the greatest need."
Pace Center for Girls
The Pace Center for Girls, a "holistic, gender-specific, strength-based, and trauma informed program that addresses the needs of girls" at risk, also has gift requests on behalf of its membership, with the girls needing a variety of items that include:
- Body Sprays
- Fleece Throws & Pillows
- Art Supplies (sketch pads, art kits)
- Stuffed Animals
To meet more specific needs for particular families at the Center, gift cards or on-line donations would also be accepted and appreciated.
Pace, which served 41 girls in Hernando County the last six months of the 2017-2018 fiscal year, is located at 3139 Dumont Avenue,
Spring Hill, FL 34609. For more information, visit https://www.pacecenter.org/locations/hernando,