How you can help local nonprofits this holiday season

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s the season of giving and the need is greater than ever for some nonprofits in the area.

You can help by doing things like giving monetary donations to your favorite nonprofit or even getting together with your family, friends, church or civic group to sponsor a meal or drive that’s happening.

Here are specific ways you can help area nonprofits:

AYA (As You Are) Collective

AYA helps combat youth homelessness for those between the ages of 14 and 24. Each year, they assist about 400 youth who are sleeping outside or experiencing some kind instability.

Youth are able to come to the facility, located on 320 State Street SE in Grand Rapids, to do the laundry, grab a hot meal, take a rest or learn about career opportunities. The nonprofit also own nine homes that house approximately 120 youth.

As the cold weather season approaches, they are asking for coats, hats, gloves, scarves, boots, blankets and any other cold weather apparel. You can also sponsor a meal or help connect these youth to resources around the city.

“I don’t think a lot of people in Grand Rapids necessarily know that there are literally 100 14-24 year old’s youth sleeping outside in Grand Rapids. So, if you’re able check us out find out what needs and resources there are because everything goes directly to them,” said Andy Allen, the director of advancement at AYA.

You can donate basic needs for youth here. For drive specific questions, email mhaack@ayayouth.org.

Family Network of Wyoming

Family Network is a food pantry that is open to those who live in the Wyoming area. It serves approximately 400 families a month and provides shopping cart of food those need in need. The pantry is filled with fresh produce, eggs, dairy, bread and meat.

The nonprofit also offers medical equipment for those who are less fortunate and can’t afford wheelchairs, walkers, canes or crutches. Individuals can participate in the program which loans the items out for six months to one year.

During this holiday season, the pantry is in need of canned good items, especially vegetables, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce and macaroni and cheese.

“We’re not government funded. It’s totally people that personally give to us and our special donors and churches that are involved with Family Network of Wyoming. If you’re looking for a place to sow a seed, Family Network is the place,” Executive Director of Family Network of Wyoming Raycheen Sims said.

The food pantry is open each Monday and Wednesday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. Anyone is welcome to drop off donations at the site, located at 1029 44th Street SW in Wyoming.

They are also looking for volunteers to help sort items. You can call the office at 616.885.9919 for any questions or visit their website.

Arbor Circle

Arbor Circle in Grand Rapids provides mental health counseling for children and adults, substance use treatment and family services. You can help this organization this holiday by being a giving sponsor.

There are options for sponsorship: Match with a family, adopt a program or select wish list items.

If you are interested, complete the sponsor interest form. You can also email volunteer@arborcircle.org for questions.

Bethany Christian Services

Bethany Christian Services is nonprofit that supports children and families in the United States. It offers assistance related to pregnancy counseling, foster care, emergency care, and adoption.

The nonprofit also helps refugees and immigrants who are fleeing from danger. It offers resettlement and other support services to these families or individuals.

In addition, Bethany Christian Services also finds placement for children so they aren’t sent to orphanages. They try to keep the child in their own country while supporting families who are trying to stay together.

Giving opportunities including sponsoring a family for Christmas. Sponsors receive the family’s wish list and purchase gifts to help brighten their holiday. Families are identified by the local Grand Rapid’s branch case
managers, and matches are coordinated by the community engagement/volunteer office.

Sign up here to be matched with a family.

Mel Trotter Ministries

Mel Trotter Ministries exists to combat homelessness and hunger across Grand Rapids. The nonprofit will open a second overflow winter shelter next month and asks for any donations to help with this effort.

It is also doing a Code Blue Drive, which aims to collect winter items as homeless men and women deal with the harsh winter.

New or like new winter weather items for men, women and children will be accepted. In particular, they need:

  • Men’s jeans size 32-40 waist and 32 length
  • Winter boots: Men’s size 9 -15 and Women’s size 6-12
  • Sweat pants size L-4XL
  • Sweat shirts size L -4XL
  • Pillows (new)

Items can be dropped off at any of the Code Blue Drive drop off sites or at Mel Trotter’s downtown location at 225 Commerce Ave SW.

Heart of West Michigan United Way has also compiled a 2021 holiday giving and volunteering guide, which can be found here.

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