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Pinellas shares the holiday spirit
Communities come together to make the holidays bright
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Photo courtesy of MARINE CORPS LEAGUE
Next-door neighbors and members of the Marine Corps League Nancy Bauer, left, and Anita Reed take stock of toys donated by residents of the Island in the Sun, Royal Palms and East Bay Oaks senior communities in Largo. The collection is part of the Toys for Tots campaign to benefit needy children of Pinellas County.
Photo courtesy of MARINE CORPS LEAGUE
Next-door neighbors and members of the Marine Corps League Nancy Bauer, left, and Anita Reed take stock of toys donated by residents of the Island in the Sun, Royal Palms and East Bay Oaks senior communities in Largo. The collection is part of the Toys for Tots campaign to benefit needy children of Pinellas County.
Volunteers throughout Pinellas County are on a mission to make the holidays special for the poor, the sick, the lonely and others in need of a helping hand. Time grows short, and many groups still need help from the community to complete their work, including the following.

Food drives

• North Redington Beach holiday food drive

NORTH REDINGTON BEACH – The town of North Redington Beach is hosting its third annual holiday food drive to benefit the Beach Community Food Pantry at Calvary Episcopal Church in Indian Rocks Beach. The food bank’s wish list includes powdered milk, instant potatoes, flour, coffee, butter/margarine, oil and vinegar. Other possibilities are canned vegetables, fruit, tomato sauce, tuna, ham, sardines, spaghetti sauce, beans, soups, cereal, pasta and rice. Call 391-4848.

• Pasadena Presbyterian holiday food drive

ST. PETERSBURG - Pasadena Presbyterian is having a holiday food drive in to benefit the food distribution center that serves more than 120 families twice a month with groceries. Donations of non-perishable food such as canned or boxed foods and grocery store gift cards for turkeys are being accepted at a collection unit on church property at 100 Pasadena Ave, N. in St. Petersburg, weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. Call 388-4339 or visit www.p­asade­napc.­com. Suggested donations include soup, chili, stew, macaroni and cheese, ravioli, canned beans, pasta, rice, noodles, canned tuna, chicken or salmon, canned tomatoes, canned vegetables, canned fruit, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, peanut butter and jelly. Donations of seasonal foods also are needed, including cranberry sauce, stuffing, cake mix, frosting, instant potatoes or gravy mix. Grocery gift certificates are appreciated.

• Oldsmar Library Food for Fines

OLDSMAR – The Oldsmar Public Library will waive late book fines through Dec. 21 for persons who bring a non-perishable, unexpired food item during normal business hours during the annual Food for Fines food drive. All donations received will be distributed to Oldsmar Cares to be given to needy area residents. Each donated item equals up to a $1 credit to the late feel fine. Lost or damaged book fees are not applicable. For more information, contact the Oldsmar Public Library at 813-749-1178.

• Clearwater Library Food for Fines

CLEARWATER - All Clearwater Public Library branches are offering an amnesty period for overdue materials in exchange for donation of non-perishable foods. The offer is valid from Monday, Nov. 18 through close of business Friday, Dec. 20. Last year the program netted literally tons of food and goods for the Religious Community Services Food Bank. Anyone who has fines due may bring canned goods or non-perishable food items to any Clearwater library branch and present them at the circulation desk with the overdue materials if available. Staff will waive any fines due and the donated food will go toward a holiday charity food drive. For more information, call 562-4970 or visit www.m­yclea­rwate­­/cpl.

Food and toy drives

• Oldsmar Cares Holiday Ham Giveaway

OLDSMAR – Volunteers are needed Friday, Dec. 20, 8 a.m. to noon, to prepare, pack and help families load food into their vehicles, during the second annual Oldsmar Cares Holiday Ham Giveaway. The first 150 families that reside in 34677 Oldsmar zip code to sign up by Dec. 19 can receive a free holiday meal from Oldsmar Cares. Sign up is available during regular office hours at Oldsmar Cares office, 163 State Road 580 West. The Holiday Ham Giveaway is Friday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m. to noon. Oldsmar families in-need will receive a ham and fresh produce to prepare a holiday meal. Food will be distributed at the Oldsmar Care's office. This annual event supplements the Oldsmar Cares ongoing food pantry program. Donations are being accepted at www.o­ldsma­rcare­.org. A donation of $25 will help purchase a holiday meal for one family. For more information or to volunteer, call Mike McKnight at 727-487-4443 or email

• Palm Harbor Chamber food and toy drive

PALM HARBOR – The Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce is collecting food and toy drive for the holidays through Dec. 23. The beneficiary will be FEAST – The Palm Harbor area food pantry. Residents are asked to bring nonperishable food items and new toys to the chamber office, 1151 Nebraska Ave.

• Tarpon Springs Rescue food and toy drive

TARPON SPRINGS - Tarpon springs Fire Rescue has begun it annual collection of non-perishable foods for their food baskets to help needy families put a holiday meal on their table at Christmastime. Food collection baskets donations are accepted at Tarpon Springs City Hall, Tarpon Springs Public Safety Building, Tarpon Springs Public Library, Tarpon Springs Recreation Center, Stonehenge Mobile Home Park and Tarpon Shores Mobile Home Park. New unwrapped toys will also be accepted at these locations. Local residents that are referred through the schools and community groups receive the food baskets. For more information, call 727-938-3737.

Toy drives

• Stuffed toy drive

Seminole – Curves for Women in Seminole is requesting donations for its annual Holiday Stuffed Toy Drive. All stuffed animals must be new with tags and will be donated to All Children's Hospital. Deadline is Dec. 18. Drop off stuffed toys at Curves for Women in Seminole, 8992 Seminole Blvd., Seminole. Call Marina Szing for more information at 727-320-9737.

• Clearwater police toy drive

CLEARWATER – The Clearwater Police Department is accepting gifts that will help make the holidays brighter for disadvantaged children. A box is set up at the main police department lobby at 645 Pierce St. for residents to drop off gifts through Friday, Dec. 20. The gifts should be unwrapped and made for children between ages 3 and 11. The gift drive is a collaboration between the police department, Clearwater Neighborhood Housing Inc. and Nedra and O’Neal Larkin. Presents will be given to children on Sunday, Dec. 22, in the North Greenwood and South Greenwood communities. For more information, call Sgt. Wilton Lee at 562-4310 or Nedra Larkin at 447-6287.

• All Children’s toy donations

ST. PETERSBURG – All Children’s Hospital has developed a wish list for those in the community who would like to donate toys during the holidays. The list of items needed for this holiday season is available at www.a­llkid­­/toys. The hospital is unable to accept used toys. Donations should be unwrapped and may be dropped off at the hospital lobby, 501 Sixth Ave. S., St. Petersburg. For information, call 767-4323. All Children's Hospital also has a holiday registry list on Amazo­ Toys have been selected for all ages as well as some items needed for individual units. Once the items are purchased, they will be mailed directly to All Children's Hospital. For information, visit www.a­llkid­­/toys.

• Toy for Tots collection

PALM HARBOR – Nationwide Title Clearing Inc., a leading post-closing services provider for the residential mortgage industry, is supporting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation during the organization’s annual holiday collection campaign for the third consecutive year. NTC will serve as a drop-off site for employees and nearby residents to bring new toys for children in need throughout the Tampa Bay community. The company hopes to help Pinellas County reach its goal of gifting 1,500 less fortunate children with toys for the holidays. Those interested in donating to Toys for Tots can bring unwrapped toys for children of all ages to NTC’s Palm Harbor office, 2100 Alt. 19 N., Palm Harbor.

• Toy for Tots volunteers

CLEARWATER – The Marine Corps League’s Morris F. Dixon Detachment 54 seeks volunteers to help with its Toys for Tots program. Those who want to help may call Ron Ashley at 517-6508.

• Toys for Tots collection site

SEMINOLE – Bellezza Tan & Spa, 8460 Seminole Blvd., is a drop-off location for the Toys for Tots program sponsored by The Marine Corps Reserve.

• Back N' Balance toy drive

DUNEDIN – Back N' Balance, 1059 Broadway, Suite C, will host a toy drive Dec. 16-20. Patients who bring a new, unwrapped toy to an appointment at Back N' Balance between Dec. 16 and 20 will receive an adjustment for $25. For information, call 733-6501.

• Christmas Toys for Kids

DUNEDIN – Sound Mind Ministries of Dunedin is sponsoring the third annual Christmas Toys for Kids program to provide for 20 families. The goal is to help 80 children from birth to age 16 through the Christmas Room where parents, grandparents or guardians can choose up to two or three stocking stuffers and gifts per child. The Christmas Room will be open Friday, Dec. 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Dunedin office, 1130 Pinehurst Road. Sound Mind Ministries is a nonprofit 501-C3 organization. Donations for the Christmas Room are tax deductible. Call 329-6463.

• Tarpon Springs police toy drive

TARPON SPRINGS – Tarpon Springs Police Department provides gifts to children in the Tarpon Springs area whose families are having difficult times. The department is asking for help in making the wishes of these local area children come true. New unwrapped gifts for children age 5-14 years are needed. Cash donations are also accepted to purchase special “wish list” items. Please make checks payable to Tarpon Springs Police Department Cops & Kids Program. Gifts are accepted through Dec. 20, at the Tarpon Springs Police Department, 444 S. Huey Ave. For more information, call Officer Quinones at 727-934-4800.

• Giving Tree

SAFETY HARBOR – The Safety Harbor Public Library, 101 Second Street N., is sponsoring a Giving Tree in their lobby to support the children of Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center. The tree is adorned with ornaments noting children’s first names, ages, and their gift wish. Patrons may select an ornament, purchase the gift and return it to the library unwrapped with the gift tag attached by Friday, Dec. 20. There are 100 ornaments on the tree. Call 724-1525 ext. 4106.

Help for seniors

• Elves for Elders Project

ST. PETERSBURG – The St. Petersburg Office on Aging needs donations to provide holiday cheer for approximately 529 senior citizens. Donations of cash or gift cards are needed. For more information, call 727-893-7102.

• Be a Santa to a Senior

Home Instead Senior Care is teaming up with non-profit agencies and area retailers to sponsor Be a Santa to a Senior – a program that collects, wraps and delivers gifts to lonely and needy seniors in Pinellas County. The program runs through Dec. 19. Gifts will be delivered Dec. 19-23.

The program – run by the local Home Instead Senior Care office in partnership with area retailers, volunteers and members of the community – helps ensure isolated seniors receive gifts and companionship during the holidays.

Retailers participating in Be a Santa to a Senior are displaying Christmas trees through Dec. 19. The trees feature ornaments with seniors’ first names and their gift requests. Holiday shoppers can pick an ornament from these trees, buy the items listed and return them unwrapped to the store, with the ornament attached.

Be a Santa to a Senior trees are at the following locations:

• Bealls Outlet Store, 3635 49th St. N., St. Petersburg
• Bealls Outlet Store, 12030 Indian Rocks Road, Largo
• Bealls Outlet Store, 41318 U.S. 19 N., Tarpon Springs
• Bealls Outlet Store, 11173 Park Blvd, Seminole
• Bealls Outlet Store, 914 Patricia Ave., Dunedin
• Bealls Outlet Store, 1271 S. Missouri Ave., Clearwater
• Home Instead Senior Care, 1799 N. Belcher Road, Suite B, Clearwater
• Home Instead Senior Care, 1208 66th St. N., St. Petersburg
• Home Instead Senior Care, 7250 Ulmerton Road, Largo
• Home Instead Senior Care, 1208 66th St. N., St. Petersburg
• Shapes Fitness, 5651 38th Ave. N., St. Petersburg

The local Home Instead Senior Care office will enlist volunteers from its staff, senior-care business associates, non-profit workers and others to collect, wrap and distribute the gifts to local seniors who might otherwise spend the holiday alone. For more information about the program, visit BeaSa­ntato­aSeni­­m or call 799-1400.

Other ways to help

• Christmas Music Benefit for the Homeless

ST. PETERSBURG – Sacred Lands annual Christmas Music Benefit for the Homeless is Friday, Dec. 20. Bring an item for the Christmas Potluck Dinner and enjoy live music. Performers begin at 6 p.m. Admission is $10. All proceeds and item donations on this night will go to help the homeless. Items will be collected for St. Vincent’s Homeless Shelter. New socks and underwear are like "gold." Enter via 1700 Park St. N., St. Petersburg. Turn off Park Street on to Elbow Lane. Turn left before the boat parking lot and enter wooded gate entrance. For more information, call 367-3592.

• Red Kettle Bell Ringers

Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County Salvation Army needs volunteer Red Kettle Bell Ringers through Dec. 24. Help raise funds to provide programs 365 days a year. This is a great opportunity for groups and individuals. Visit www.s­alvat­ionar­myflo­rida.­org/c­learw­ater/­volun­teer.

• St. Petersburg Salvation Army Bell Ringers

Be an ambassador to the community for The Salvation Army through Dec. 24. Families, churches, clubs, groups or company employees can ring bells at a community location Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., to help us raise funds and give hope to families in our community throughout the year. The minimum shift is two hours. Saturdays are especially reserved for volunteers. To register, call Gail Stark 550-8080, ext. 332.

Christmas meals, food and toy distribution

• Christmas Distribution

Forty volunteers are needed each day to help with distribution of food, toys and other assistance to families from community through Dec. 19 at Salvation Army’s Citadel Corps, 3800 Ninth Ave. N., St. Petersburg. Volunteers will work as escorts, runners, loaders, checkers, toy movers and carolers. Relational volunteers are needed. Flexible hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. are available each day. Clean up takes place in the afternoon. For more information, call Gail Stark at 727-550-8080, ext. 332, email or visit www.s­astpe­te.or­g.

• Joy Center Toyland Distribution

Clearwater and Upper Pinellas County Salvation Army needs volunteers for its The Joy Center Toyland Distribution Thursday, Dec. 19, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Help families with their toy selection, distribute food baskets, and assist the families in getting their items to their vehicles. Visit www.s­alvat­ionar­myflo­rida.­org/c­learw­ater/­volun­teer.

• Free Christmas buffet

The People That Love Church and Mission, 817 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg, is offering a free Christmas buffet on Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. The mission offers its free toys for kids’ day on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 11 a.m. All children accompanied by a parent or guardian will receive a new toy and other goodies. The Christmas Eve buffet begins at 8 p.m., offering a free evening of food and joy for homeless guests and lonely neighbors. The mission ends the holiday season with a New Year’s Eve Buffet on Dec. 31, 8 p.m.

• St. Petersburg Christmas Eve community dinner

The Salvation Army needs 40 volunteers for the Christmas Eve Community Dinner on Dec. 24. Come help prepare, serve and clean up after the Community Christmas Dinner and sit down to enjoy a holiday meal with others. Meal times are from 2 to 4 p.m. for residents and the community. For more information, call Gail Stark at 727-550-8080, ext. 332, email or visit www.s­astpe­te.or­g.

• Christmas Dinner

Temple Ahavat Shalom will be serving a traditional Christmas Dinner to families at Religious Community Services’ Grace House and the Haven of RCS on Monday, Dec. 23. RCS Grace House provides services to families with children that are facing homelessness, including dignified emergency shelter and homeless prevention case management and financial assistance. The Haven of RCS Domestic Violence Center is a full service facility that serves more than 15,000 people annually, including sheltering nearly 400 woman and children. This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Temple’s ministry. For more information, visit www.R­CSpin­ellas­.org.

After Christmas

• After Christmas assistance, Jan. 6-31

The St. Petersburg Salvation Army needs volunteers from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to check dates and stock food donated to the Social Services Department in the pantry at 340 14th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. For more information, call Gail Stark at 727-550-8080, ext. 332, email or visit www.s­astpe­te.or­g.

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