Christmas Toy Donations & Giving Opportunities in the Lakeland Area

Lakeland Area Christmas Giving Opportunities

There are SO MANY options for Holiday donations, Christmas giving, Volunteering for Christmas Charities, or doing good deeds during the Holiday Season. Find a toy drive near you, donate Christmas presents for kids, provide food for a family in need, or make a point to perform random acts of kindness.

In hopes of making it simple for you to GIVE BACK, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can make a difference this Christmas season. This list includes things you can do for free (such as giving compliments, volunteering, or making Christmas cards), places to donate toys for Christmas, all the way to “adopting” a child’s wish list or adopting a family to make their holiday special. If you’ve been looking for somewhere collecting Christmas donations in Lakeland and Polk County, this list is for you.

Whether you have $1 or $100 to give this holiday season, every act of generosity matters. We are firm believers that every little bit of happiness passed along helps make a difference in this world. {And let’s be honest… in 2020, we can ALL use a little more kindness in our lives!}

**All of the information below has been updated for 2020. We will continue to add organizations to this list. Contact us if you would like to be included.**

Are you looking for Christmas help? We have a separate article with information on how to apply for assistance with Christmas gifts.

Don’t miss our Ultimate Guide to Christmas Events + Holiday Activities for a full list of things to do this holiday season in Lakeland and Polk County including Christmas Light Displays, Santa Photos, Christmas Tree Lots, Christmas Parades, Holidays Concerts, Live Performances, Holiday Markets, Ice Skating, Toy Donation Needs, and more.

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

  • Make Christmas Cards and drop them off at a local assisted living facility
  • Give someone a compliment
  • Leave a small treat in the mailbox for the person who delivers your mail
  • Offer to return someone’s shopping cart to the store
  • Let someone go ahead of you in the checkout line
  • Do some winter cleaning and donate gently used toys where they can be reused (see a list of donation locations)
  • Make a thank you card for someone who might not normally receive many thanks
  • Pay for the coffee of the person behind you
  • Make cards for hospitalized kids
  • Coupon queens and stockpile shoppers, donate your extra household products and toiletries to a family in need
  • Mow the lawn/weed the yard of a neighbor working multiple jobs
  • Babysit for a single parent so they can have some alone time or even get some Christmas shopping done
  • Supply freezer meals to a mother who just had a baby, a family who lost a loved one, or a neighbor who is sick
  • Smile and look for opportunities to encourage others with your words
  • Leave a nice waiter or waitress a generous tip
  • Take a treat and/or thank you note to the janitors at your school
  • Sing an employee’s praises to a manager or on a comment card — a little recognition goes a long way
  • Make Blessing Bags – bags of food and hygiene products for the homeless
  • Hide $1 with an anonymous “Merry Christmas!” note in the Dollar Store
  • Drop off {store bought} cookies at a local fire station or police station
  • Donate stuffed animals to police and fire departments to use during emergencies to help calm frightened children
  • Give Blood – check to see where you can find the Big Red Bus to make a donation

DONATE TOYS / CLOTHING FOR CHILDREN

Heartland for Children's Rudolph Round-Up

Rudolph Round-Up – Heartland for Children

Heartland for Children’s Rudolph Round-Up serves over 1,500 local children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. Heartland for Children oversees a comprehensive child welfare network that includes protective services, foster care, adoptions, independent living, prevention, mental health, family preservation, family support services and other related services. {Read our article to learn more about the need for Foster Caregivers in Polk County}.

Donation needs:  Become a RUDOLPH CHAMPION and commit to making a difference in the life of a child this holiday season by:

  • Sponsoring an individual child by purchasing gifts on his or her wish list
  • Sponsoring a toy drive individually, through your business, organization, school or faith community
  • Making a monetary contribution to help purchase items off a wish list
  • Donating toys for a child, in lieu of an office or family gift exchange

For more information or to find out current needs, please contact Heartland for Children at rudolph@heartlandforchildren.org or call (863) 519-8900 ext. 214.

Salvation Army of Lakeland / West Polk

You can help #RescueChristmas this year with the Salvation Army. They serve thousands of children in need in the Lakeland area through their Angel Tree program.

How to donate: Bring joy to a child this Christmas. Angels are available for adoption. Please call 863-853-2214. Christmas Trees with Angel Tree wish lists will also be located in local Walmart stores and local businesses around town, look for them soon. Salvation Army also welcomes donations of new, unwrapped toys. Website.

Drop off donations at: The Salvation Army – 3804 Kathleen Road, Lakeland, FL 33810

Salvation Army of Winter Haven

The Angel Tree program of Winter Haven/East Polk County helps families in need by providing new clothing and toys to 900 children each year.

How to donate: You can shop directly on Walmart for items on the Salvation Army of Winter Haven’s wish list. Angel Trees with wish lists will be also located in local Walmart stores and local businesses around town, look for them soon. Salvation Army also welcomes donations of new, unwrapped toys.

Drop off donations at: The Salvation Army – 1898 Hwy. 17 North, Winter Haven FL 33881, starting November 1st – Monday-Friday 9:00am-4:30pm. Website.

Volunteer with the Salvation Army: See options below including how to sign up to ring the Red Kettle Bell.

Polk County Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots Polk County

The Marine Toys for Tots Program is managed by dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers. Polk County Toys for Tots served over 14,000 local children last year! They provide supplemental Christmas toys to children from newborn through age 13, with the goal of providing one large and one small gift for each child.

Donation needs: NEW, UNWRAPPED toys

Drop off donations at: Any Toys for Tots collection box. CLICK HERE to find a box near you. (Check back in November 2020 for a list of donation locations)

Cops for Kids – Lakeland Police Department

Cops for Kids is coordinated by the Lakeland Police Department. Christmas toys are provided to children age 12 & under. Approximately 400 local children whose families have applied for the program will receive gifts through Cops for Kids. Website.

Donation needs: New, unwrapped toy donations for children up to 12 years of age.

Drop off donations by December 11 at:

  • Lakeland Police Station / 219 N. Massachusetts Ave.
  • Lakeland Libraries (Main & Jackson Branch) / 100 Lake Morton Dr. and 1700 N. Florida Ave.
  • City Hall / 228 S. Massachusetts Ave.
  • Lakeland Electric / 501 E Lemon St.
  • Kelly Recreation Complex / 404 Imperial Blvd.

Lakeland Fire Department Toy Drive

The Lakeland Fire Department holds a toy drive each year to benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida and the Dream Center of Lakeland, who will distribute the collected gifts to Lakeland’s children in need. 2020 Donations dates TBD.

Donation needs: New, unwrapped toys

Drop off donations at:  Any of LFD’s 7 fire stations or the Fire Administration Building. Station locations can be found at http://www.lakelandgov.net/lfd or by calling (863) 834-8200.

One More Child

One More Child (formerly known as Florida Baptist Children’s Homes) serves children in need in the foster care system, children’s homes, single moms, and their Compassion Ministries. This special time of year is especially difficult for children who are separated from their family, as well as parents, who are providing the best they can for their children but just need a little help along the way.

Donation needs:

  • Visit the OMC website to Sign up for Operation Merry Christmas and receive a Christmas wish list. You can specify the age group you would like to shop for and the Lakeland area (OMC is based in Lakeland but serves families all over the state of Florida).
  • They also welcome donations of new, unwrapped toys for school-aged children, and new, unwrapped clothes for infants, toddlers and school-aged children.

Drop off donations by Thursday, December 10, 2020 at: Harold Clark Simmons Compassion Center – 1015 Sikes Blvd., Lakeland, FL 33815

Mulberry Community Service Center Holiday Donations

The Mulberry Community Service Center is a non-profit organization working to create financially stable households. They provide food and clothing distribution, bill payment assistance, and financial education resources to residents of Mulberry, Nichols, Pine Lake, Willow Oaks, Fuller Heights, Imperial Lakes, Bradley and southeast Lakeland (ZIP Code 33813). If you live in one of these areas, contact the Mulberry Community Service Center at 863-425-1523 to learn how you can help support families in your community.

Bartow Church Service Center Christmas Donations

The Bartow Church Service Center provides emergency services year-round for those in Bartow and the Bartow school district. They attempt to meet the emergency needs of individuals on a temporary basis with food, clothing, meals, household items, gas, utilities, rent, transportation vouchers, housing, financial education services and much more. They also distribute food at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas. If you live in the Bartow area, contact the Bartow Church Service Center at (863) 533-5822 to learn how you can help support families in your community.

Frostproof Care Center Christmas Donations

The Frostproof Care Center is in its twenty-sixth year of service to disadvantaged people in the rural southeastern corner of Polk County, Florida, including Frostproof and Babson Park. The Care Center helps individuals and families by meeting immediate and urgent physical needs caused by sudden trauma, disaster or economic instability and providing transitional services, education and mentoring to help them “get back on their feet.” They also distribute food at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas. If you live in the Frostproof area, contact the Frostproof Care Center at 863-635-5555 to learn how you can help support families in your community.

Lake Wales Care Center Holiday Donations

If you live in Lake Wales or a nearby community, the Lake Wales Care Center provides year-round assistance as well as holiday help to hundreds of families during the holiday season through the annual food drive and holiday meals, Christmas gifts that are provided to children, and more.

If you are a resident of the Lake Wales area and would like to receive holiday assistance this year, please contact the Lake Wales Care Center’s Main Office at 863-676-6678 to schedule an appointment with a case manager. Learn more on the LWCC Website.

DONATE FOOD

Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE) 

Established in 1983, the primary goal of VISTE is to enable frail elderly persons to continue living independently and safely in their own home. Serves eldery clients in Lakeland, Bartow, Mulberry and Ft. Meade.

Donation needs: Non-perishable food items to provide supplemental boxes of groceries to 1500 clients monthly, and personal care items. Visit the VISTE website to see a current wish list of needs.

One More Child

Serves: To sustain the Child Hunger and Family Support Services program and provide for families, food and household items are needed year round. Visit the website for a list of current needs.

Drop off donations at: Harold Clark Simmons Compassion Center – 1015 Sikes Blvd., Lakeland, FL 33815

VOLUNTEER

Ring the Bell – Salvation Army Red Kettle 

The entire family can ring a bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle between November 28 – December 24. This is a great volunteer opportunity to do with children. Shifts are typically 2 hours long, between 10am – 7pm. Students can receive volunteer hours. Register at registertoring.com. {This website makes it super easy to sign up – you put in your zip code, select the specific store/location, dates you are available, and it pulls up a list of available times}.

Salvation Army of Winter Haven

  • Volunteer at Angel Tree Toy Shop – Volunteer in the Angel Tree workshop/distribution site. Volunteers check in all incoming gifts, toys, clothes, bikes, etc. and sort gifts. Volunteers will also fill each Angel’s bag (if not adopted) with gifts, toys and clothes, etc.
  • Volunteer at Distribution Days – 2020 Distribution Days are Wednesday, December 16 or Thursday, December 17from 9am-3:30pm. Applicants will come to the Salvation Army church building to pick-up their gifts. This year will be a “drive-thru” style distribution where the applicants will remain in their vehicles and our workers/volunteers (runners) will assist us with locating their gift in the toy shop and getting them loaded to their vehicle.
  • Call (863) 294-7493 to sign up to volunteer – visit the website to learn more. (The Salvation Army is not just a Christmas Charity – they provide assistance year round and have volunteer opportunities throughout the year)

Feeding Tampa Bay

Feeding Tampa Bay is working hard to ensure our neighbors have the food they need during this critical time. Volunteers are needed year-round. Visit their website to find upcoming volunteer opportunities in Polk County, or call 813.254.1190. (Or use this link to see upcoming dates for the Polk Mega Pantry in Lakeland).

United Way of Central Florida

United Way of Central Florida builds stronger communities through volunteerism. They meet critical needs through volunteer service and civic engagement in their partnership with many of our local non-profits. Visit their website to see current volunteer opportunities and sign up to volunteer.

Florida Baptist Children’s Homes and One More Child

There are many ways to be involved at Florida Baptist Children’s Homes during the holidays and year round, Volunteers are needed weekdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm and we can accommodate Saturday groups by request. Typically, age minimum is 14 years old but under-aged children are welcome IF they are accompanied by an adult. You can also go straight to the volunteer application, submit and someone will contact you! Click here for the volunteer application.

Volunteers in Service to the Elderly (VISTE)

VISTE has holiday and year-round volunteer needs. You and your children can decorate birthday bags, bake birthday cakes, deliver groceries, or deliver hot meals to seniors living in their own homes. Click here to learn more about becoming a VISTE Volunteer!

Each year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, VISTE delivers Thanksgiving meals to elderly clients. Registration is required this year. Click here for more details on the VISTE Thanksgiving Delivery.

Polk County Parks & Recreation

Volunteers needed for Holiday Events for Kids. Click here to see current openings. Great opportunities for teens ages 14+ and adults.

Volunteer Polk

Volunteer Polk has a huge variety of volunteer opportunities, both during the holidays and year round. Click here to see a full list of current opportunities. Call (863) 534-5580 for more details.

FINANCIAL DONATIONS

Salvation Army Red Kettles

You’re bound to come across the signature Red Kettles and Bell Ringers regularly in the next few weeks, make a point to put cash or change into one this holiday season. For the times you don’t put money in, it’s ok! Keep this in mind:  “When you see someone ringing the bell for The Salvation Army this season, it’s okay to make eye contact. You do not have to duck and run. We volunteer to help where we can, not to judge. Say “hello,” “Merry Christmas,” or “thanks for volunteering”. I don’t put money in the bucket EVERY time I walk by either. It’s okay!” (posted by a wise friend on Facebook)

Community Organizations

We couldn’t begin to make a full list of organizations that need financial donations. There are NUMEROUS organizations meeting needs in the Lakeland community, and we want you to give towards something you are excited about. If you are looking to make a financial donation to a local non-profit but aren’t sure which one, contact us directly and we can help you find an organization that matches your passion.

GENTLY USED DONATIONS

Organizations that collect Christmas Toys require them to be brand new, but many local charities collect gently used toys, clothing, household items, and more all year round for other uses. Are you doing any last-minute purging of toys and household items before you have company for the holidays? If so, we’ve got an entire article with a list of places to take your gently used items! Click here to see Donation Locations.

Do you know of another organization accepting Christmas donations or volunteers? Whether the need is specifically at the holidays or year round, send us a note through our contact us form so we can make a note for next year and any other features we do about donations and volunteering.