The winter holidays are a joyous time for many. But not for all. For people who can’t afford to eat on any given day, much less have extra to prepare a holiday meal, the holidays can be depressing. Thinking of how to provide gifts for their children causes more stress than joy.

Fortunately, the holidays are a time when the community comes together to take care of its own. People with generous hearts share their blessings to help make the holidays better for those less fortunate. The holiday spirit is alive and well in Pinellas County.

There are many ways to help, including the following.

Food drives

The Seminole Junior Woman’s Club is collecting donations for the 21st annual Share Our Spirit Christmas food drive. Each year, the club works with guidance counselors at Pinellas County schools to identify families who are unable to provide meals to their children over Christmas break. Many receive regular meals through the school feeding program, but go hungry over the holiday break.

Help make a difference in these children’s lives over Christmas break by donating to the food drive. Items requested include canned chicken, tuna, salmon; cereal and breakfast bars; peanut butter and jelly; rice; pasta and pasta sauce; canned vegetables and fruit; fruit cups; boxed macaroni and cheese meals; applesauce, and other non-perishables.

Collection boxes are located at supporting businesses throughout Seminole, including Yoga 4 All, Salon 131, Lake Seminole Square, Seminole Recreation Center and Oakhurst Learning Center. Boxes will be available through Dec. 10.

Monetary and/or gift card donations for perishable items are greatly appreciated.

Email GFWCSeminole@gmail.com or visit https://www.Facebook.com/SeminoleJuniorWomansClub/ to arrange pickup for any donation or call 727-301-6972.

Nature’s Food Patch Market & Café in Clearwater and downtown Dunedin is collecting healthy foods to donate to families in need through Dec. 31.

Customers are asked to purchase a pre-packaged $10 bag of food charities are in the most need of during the holiday season, such as canned goods, pastas and holiday foods. and Nature’s Food Patch will donate it directly to the corresponding charity.

All donations from their Clearwater store, 1225 Cleveland St., will go to Homeless Empowerment Program and all donations from the Dunedin location, 966 Douglas Ave #106, will go to Dunedin Cares Food Pantry.

Last year, The Patch and its customers collected over $12,000 worth of food to the two charities.

In addition to customer donations, Nature’s Food Patch will give their November and December Ban the Bag. Bring Your Own! donation to the charities.

Toys for Tots

Since 1947, Marines have been making Christmas wishes come true for needy children.

Organizers of Toys for Tots in Pinellas County expect the need to be greater than last. In 2018, 34,866 toys were distributed to 5,226 children.

Help is needed, especially for toys for both girls and boys ages 10-12 and for children birth to 1. The goal of Toys for Tots is that “Every Child deserves a Little Christmas.”

Volunteers are needed. For more information, visit http://t4tpinellas.ptaptsa.org/volunteer

Drop-off locations

Please bring new, unwrapped toys to 7150 114th Avenue North, Largo. Drop-off location is at the southeast corner of the building. The warehouse is open every Friday from 3-6 p.m. Starting Dec. 9, the warehouse will be open daily from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. until the campaign ends on Dec. 21.

Local businesses throughout the county also are providing drop-off locations.

Bob Coston, a local Edward Jones financial adviser, is one of the local businesses supporting the Pinellas County Toys for Tots program. Local residents may help needy children by bringing in a new, unwrapped toy to the office, 1465 S Fort Harrison Ave, Ste. 106, Belleair, during regular business hours through Tuesday, Dec. 17.

"With the holiday season around the corner, we are all getting ready for the festivities," Coston said. "And as this is the season of giving, now is a great time to remember the less fortunate in our community."

For the 14th year, Ice Cold Air Discount Auto Repair is giving away a free oil-change including a tire rotation to any customer who brings in a new, unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots program through Dec. 14.

Customers have the option of trading the new toy for an oil change and tire rotation on the spot or exchanging the toy for a voucher for a free future oil change and tire rotation or $20 off any service.

“Our customers and community have been very good to us for over 40 years, and acting as a drop off location for Toys for Tots is an excellent way for us to give back to the community and our customers for their support,” said Tina M. Denham, president of Ice Cold Air Discount Auto Repair.

The donations will be accepted at almost all of the 17 Ice Cold Air locations throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties. The toys should be of similar value, in the original packaging and unwrapped. Those interested in taking advantage of the promotion should call or stop by their local Ice Cold Air location. Visit www.icecoldair.com for a list of locations.

Salon West is another drop-off location for Toys for Tots. Bring new, unwrapped to any of four locations, including 11167 Park Blvd., Seminole; 833 West Bay Drive, Largo; 13668 Walsingham Road, Largo; and 1530 N. McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

For a list of other drop-off locations, visit

https://st-petersburg-fl.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx.

Salvation Army

Salvation Army is working to make the holidays brighter by providing new clothes and toys for needy through the Angel Tree Program. Anonymous donors adopt the angels (children) and provide the gifts. Individuals, groups and business can adopt the angels or they can sponsor an Angel Tree.

Salvation Army also needs volunteers to help distribute gifts and food for holiday meals to participating families who register in advance for help.

For more information, call the Clearwater office at 727-725-9777, the St. Petersburg office at 727-550-8080 or the Tarpon Springs office at 727-934-4476.

In addition, bell ringers are needed for the 2019 Red Kettle Campaign. For more information, visit https://www.registertoring.com/WebPages/LocationSearch.aspx or call/text Jealixson Jean-Simon at 727-999-0914.

To add your event to help make the holiday brighter to this list, email sporter@tbnweekly.com.

Revised to add Toys for Tots drop-off location.