Five ways to give this holiday season


Local volunteers wrap gifts Nov. 27 as part of the Bayside gift wrapping station in the Westfield Galleria mall.

The events of this past year have brought many changes to communities and families. Yet, there are those whose lives have been affected far more, those whose needs have existed for far longer than the pandemic. With the onset of the holiday festivities, now is the perfect time to lend a helping hand to those who are less fortunate during these ever-changing times. In the spirit of the holidays and the New Year, here are five local charities looking for donations this holiday season. 

Be an Elf! – United States Postal Service

Ever wonder what happened to your childhood letters to Santa after you stuck them in the mailbox? Every December, the United States Postal Service receives thousands of letters from children addressed to Santa, and every year they hire a team of elves to read through them all … well, not really. Each year, the USPS and Be an Elf gather volunteers from all over to adopt letters and grant the wishes of children in need. Volunteers can adopt one letter, five letters or more, depending on how much time and money they have to dedicate to the cause, and gifts can be sent from any postal branch that offers label scanning. Due to Covid-19, Be an Elf has created an easy online process for those interested in participating, and are sending the letters to participants via email. Becoming an elf is simple; visit Be an Elf’s website to learn more about how to register, and how to make a child’s holiday wish come true.

The Prison Fellowship 

The Prison Fellowship is a non-profit organization that helps incarcerated parents reach out to their children during the holidays. They offer an Angel Tree program, a program that provides gifts to children who otherwise would not receive anything, dedicated to bringing holiday cheer to the children of prison inmates. The Prison Fellowship delivers a gift, the Gospel and a personalized message from the parent to children across the country. Donations can be made traditionally at a local church, business or group registered with Angel Tree, or virtually online. Take a look at their website to learn more about contributing and the impact of their mission. 

Toys for Tots

During October, November and December, the U.S. Marine Corps collects new, unused toys to distribute to less fortunate children during the holiday season in hopes of spreading joy to those in need. Toys for Tots donations can be dropped off at any registered drop-off site before Dec. 15, however, monetary contributions can be made online as well. There are several drop-off locations close to home; one at Creekside Church in Rocklin, one at the Rocklin Parks and Recreation building and one at The Pines senior living home. More information about Toys for Tots and their various local drop-off sites can be found here

Operation Christmas Spirit

Operation Christmas Spirit is an annual project put together by Operation Help a Hero dedicated to aiding military families during the holidays. Patrons can adopt a service member, a military family or donate toys or technology to benefit the children of military members. Donations can be made online through Operation Help a Hero’s website; check it out for more information on their most needed items and how to adopt a service member. 

Bayside Gift Wrapping Station

From now until Dec. 24, Bayside church is running a gift wrapping station in the Roseville Galleria, just outside the Godiva Chocolate Store during the mall’s regular hours. If you’re looking for a fun community service opportunity and enjoy wrapping gifts, sign up as a volunteer on their website for a two hour shift. If gift wrapping isn’t quite your forte, stop by the station to have your gifts wrapped for free and make a donation; Bayside is collecting donations to benefit local compassion causes in the area.