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Category: Community Resources

where to find help in Lakeland Community Resources

If you find yourself in a financial crisis or family crisis, there are support systems in place in our community. It is ok to need help. These community organizations exist to help people in a time of need.

Below you’ll find a list of places offering and accepting community assistance in the Lakeland area and Polk County, Florida, including places you can volunteer your time or donate items.
For a full list of community resources including articles on Food Banks, Donation Locations, and Foster Care, visit our Community Resources Guide.

HELPFUL TIP: Use the filter button (3 horizontal lines) to narrow down the list by city and/or category. All city filters are a general geographic area, check each listing address for a specific location. Use the map at the bottom to find Community Resources Near You.

Don’t see your business listed here? Use the button below to add a Featured or Basic listing.

Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center (formerly Family Fundamentals)

Family Fundamentals is changing its name! The grand opening of The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center is November 4, 2022, and classes will begin Monday, November 7th. The new center will be located at Bonnet Springs Park

The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center is a collaboration of organizations committed to strengthening families and our community by increasing access and awareness to resources and services. This Success By 6 parent resource center is a warm, welcoming place where parents and other family members come to access information, support services, and the tools they need to be the best parents they can be. Community agencies offer services on site to provide a one-stop opportunity for parents. Parents come for one service or class and return for others.

Weekly classes for ages 0-5 are offered for FREE!  The schedule follows Polk County Schools calendar. Learn more about classes at The Carol Jenkins Barnett United Way Children’s Resource Center.

Indoor Play + Open Gym for Toddlers | Mommy and Me Classes | Playgroups | Youth Services | Storytime
Bonnet Springs Boulevard, Lakeland, Florida 33815
211 - United Way

United Way’s 211 is the most comprehensive source of human and social services information in the country. Our teams of compassionate, highly trained specialists are available 24/7 to connect you with the best services available in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties. United Way’s 211 provides information about:

-supplemental food & nutrition programs
-clothing, shelter & housing options
-financial assistance
-emergency information & natural disaster relief
-health care services
-child, adolescent & adult mental health services
-substance use prevention & rehabilitation programs
-support groups for individuals with mental illnesses & special needs
-a safe, confidential path out of physical or emotional domestic abuse
-adult, child, family & elder services
-services for individuals with disabilities

Community Resources | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Mental Health + Crisis Resources | Housing Assistance | Food Banks + Food Resources | Financial Stability | Free Tax Prep | Youth Services
Bag Ladies Suitcase Ministry at First Presbyterian Church

The Bag Ladies Suitcase Ministry at First Presbyterian Church collects suitcases, duffle bags, carry-ons, etc. They clean, refurbish and decorate the bags and donate them to Heartland for Children for use by foster children in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties. Donations can be dropped off at the church office at 175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4 pm. Volunteers are always welcome,

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available
175 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay

Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. A simple but powerful mission which serves as the foundation for what we do. Consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister! Not only will you change the life of a child, your life will be changed too.

Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services
1231 East Orange Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Boys & Girls Clubs of Polk County

Boys & Girls Clubs fill the gap between school and home. We provide welcoming, positive environments in which children and teens have fun, participate in life-changing programs, and build supportive relationships with peers and caring adults. Children need to have a place where they are physically and emotionally safe. In addition to providing a caring environment, we offer daily access to a broad range of programs that promote the education, health, social character, service and leadership of the youth we serve.

After School Programs | Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services
1525 Martin L King Junior Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33805
920 Lowry Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33801
10 3rd Street Southwest, Fort Meade, Florida 33841
2400 Havendale Boulevard, Winter Haven, Florida 33881
950 Pinewood Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33815
1860 East Gibbons Street, Bartow, Florida 33830
704 Avenue C, Haines City, Florida 33844
315 Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard, Lake Wales, Florida 33853
Camp Fire Sunshine Central Florida

Camp Fire is one of the nation’s leading not-for-profit youth development organizations offering all-inclusive, co-educational programs. Founded in 1910, Camp Fire’s outcome-based programs include youth leadership, self-reliance, after school groups, camping and environmental education and child care.

After School Programs | Scouts + Campfire + 4-H | STEM Programs + LEGO Building | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services
2600 Buckingham Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33803
Celebrate Birth

Polk County’s only free-standing birth center, providing family-centered midwifery care during pregnancy, delivery, and the postpartum period. Clients can choose to have a natural birth either at the center or in the comfort of their own home, or they can choose to see us for prenatal and postpartum care but deliver in the hospital of their choice. Also available: waterbirth, massage therapy, lactation support, and classes.

Donation Locations | Midwives + Birth Centers | Breastfeeding + Lactation Consultants | Infant Massage Classes | Pregnancy + Childbirth Classes | Prenatal Massage | New Mom Support + Social Groups
1525 Edgewater Beach Drive, Lakeland, Florida 33805
Children's Clothes Closet at First United Methodist Church

The Children’s Clothes Closet supplies nearly 2,000 homeless and at-risk infants, children and teens in our community with everyday clothing, school uniforms, personal care kits and more. Clients are served through referrals only, not open to the public.

Donations of new or clean, gently worn clothing in sizes from newborns through adults, new underwear (with unopened packaging) and travel-sized personal care items help serve more children. Items may be brought to the Clothes Closet when open or placed in the brown bin outside our Facilities Office near the F building at FUMC.

Volunteer assistance is always welcome to process donations, including mending and washing items as needed and sorting clothing by size.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available
748 East Walnut Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Children's Home Society

Building bridges to success for children. Visit to see a full list of donation items including clothing, household supplies, toiletries, bedding and linens, and more.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services
1010 East Rose Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Daughters in Christ Ministries, Inc.

We are a Spirit-infused 501(c)3 non-denominational Ministry that focuses on strengthening Christian women’s commitments to their faith, family, and community by learning, serving and connecting to one another in a faith environment.  We intend to carry out this Mission by ministering to all ages and ethnicities of women through Biblical studies, Community Volunteer Services, Career Preparation, Prayer/Worship Services, Topical Speaking and much more! 

Volunteer Opportunities Available
211 East Main Street, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Early Learning Coalition of Polk County

The Early Learning Coalition of Polk County is a not-for-profit agency focused on early education and care. The goal of the Coalition is to prepare all children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. The ELC administers the VPK program for Polk County, visit their website to apply for your VPK certificate and learn more about how to select a VPK provider.
The School Readiness Program is also available through various participating child care providers. Eligibility is based on total family income and parents must be working or going to school. The program serves children from 6 weeks to 12 years of age. Fees are assessed based on a sliding fee scale. Hours of child care are determined by each child care provider.

Daycare - Infants + Toddlers | Preschool / Daycare for Ages 2 & Up | Child Care Assistance | Youth Services
115 South Missouri Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33815
Early Steps Program

Early Steps is Florida’s early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers (birth to thirty-six months) with significant delays or a condition likely to result in a developmental delay. Early Intervention is provided to support families and caregivers in developing the competence and confidence to help their child learn and develop.

Early Steps services are based on Early Steps evaluations and your family’s concerns, priorities, and goals. Early Steps uses a Team Based Primary Service Provider approach which aims to empower each eligible family by providing a comprehensive team of professionals from the beginning of services until the age of three. The goal is for the family to receive strong support from one person, provide a comprehensive team of professionals from beginning to end, and for the family to have fewer appointments and more time to be a family. Services are provided to the family and child where they live, learn and play, to enable the family to implement developmentally appropriate learning opportunities during everyday activities and routines.

Special Needs Resources + Organizations | Therapy - Occupational + Physical | Hearing Tests + Speech Therapy | Youth Services
ECHO Ministries

ECHO Ministries helps families who are caring for children that aren’t their own. We seek to meet the physical and spiritual needs of foster families, relative/non relative caregivers, and adopting families through our donation centers and community outreaches throughout Central Florida and beyond.

Our urgent donation needs- boys clothes size 7 through teen, twin beds and bunk beds, socks & underwear size 4 through teen, pajamas size 4 through teen, cribs and toddler beds, diapers, Pullups, and wipes. Visit the website for donation and shopping locations and hours.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available
4155 K-Ville Avenue, Auburndale, Florida 33823
5624 Cypress Gardens Boulevard, Winter Haven, Florida 33884
Feeding Tampa Bay

Feeding Tampa Bay, part of the national Feeding America network, focuses on providing food to the hundreds of thousands of food insecure families in the 10-county area of West Central Florida, including Polk County. Through a partner food pantry network and Feeding Tampa Bay’s distribution programs, families can collect free groceries for the week at multiple mobile pantry sites each week in Polk County. Visit the Feeding Tampa Bay website to learn more.

VOLUNTEER – Just one hour of volunteer work generates exponential meals to feed our neighbors in need. When you give your time, you’re directly contributing to the livelihood of your neighbors. From sorting non-perishable goods in our warehouse to serving meals and groceries, with every volunteer opportunity, you make a direct impact on the wellbeing of our community.

Volunteer Opportunities Available | Food Banks + Food Resources
Florida Baptist Children's Homes and One More Child

One More Child provides local and global opportunities to run to the aid of foster children, hungry children, single mom, sex trafficking victims and struggling families. Support One More Child through donations and volunteer opportunities. Donations needed include children’s clothing, toys, books, bedding, women’s clothing, diapers, household items, kitchen supplies, food, and more.

All donations are used to support their services including foster care, family support, single moms programs, and more. Drop off donations M-F from 8:30am-4:30pm at Harold Clark Simmons Compassion Center.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services | Domestic Violence
1015 Sikes Boulevard, Lakeland, Florida 33815
Florida KidCare

Florida KidCare is the umbrella brand for the four government-sponsored health insurance programs – Medicaid, MediKids, Florida Healthy Kids and the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan – that together provide a seamless continuum of coverage for Florida children from birth through the end of age 18.

Florida KidCare is designed specifically with kids in mind. That’s why our coverage provides your child with access to the services they need at each stage of growth and development. Health and dental services are delivered through quality plans that offer a choice of local doctors, dentists, specialists, hospitals, pharmacies and other healthcare providers.

Florida KidCare includes free, subsidized and full-pay options based on family income and household size. Most families pay nothing at all, and many pay as little as just $15 or $20 a month for all children in the household. Families who do not qualify for free or subsidized coverage may purchase a competitively priced full-pay plan.

Low-Cost Health Care + Dental Care | Youth Services
George Harris Jr. Runaway & Youth Crisis Center

We serve youth between the ages of 10 and 17, who may have runaway, are homeless, have been kicked out/locked out by their parent(s) or guardian(s), may need short-term respite or crisis placement due to family conflict, require emergency shelter placement due to abuse and/or neglect, or due to foster home disruption.

Donations needed include clothes, shoes, school supplies, toiletries, games, sports equipment, etc. for ages 10 – 17.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Mental Health + Crisis Resources | Youth Services
1060 Highway 17, Bartow, Florida 33830
Girls Inc. of Lakeland

Girls Incorporated of Lakeland offers daily after school and summer programs for girls in grades K-12 in West Polk County. We inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold through life-changing programs and experiences that equip them to overcome gender, economic, and social barriers.

After School Programs | Youth Services
1220 West Highland Street, Lakeland, Florida 33815
650 West Main Street, Lakeland, Florida 33830
Good Shepherd Hospice & Bethany Center

Good Shepherd Hospice offers bereavement support for all hospice survivors in addition to ongoing community support groups, including those who have experienced a sudden or unexpected death. There is no charge for bereavement support and services. Individual & family support, as well as adult grief support groups are available.

Children’s Grief Services – Good Shepherd Hospice Bethany Center is a place of hope and healing and provides a special place for children and teens to understand their grief. The caring and professionally trained staff and volunteers are dedicated to providing compassionate grief support to children, ages 3 to 18, and their families.

The Bethany Center offers the following:
–Children and family support groups: Available to adults, teens and children to help facilitate healthy grief work through sharing and creative self-expression. Inside the Bethany Center’s activity rooms, feelings are expressed through art, games and dramatic play.
–Grief Cave: Children are able to write personal messages on the walls of this unique space where their words glow in the dark.
–Camp Brave Heart: Annual spring camp for children ages 6 to 16 who live in Polk, Highlands or Hardee counties.

Grief Care Groups | Youth Services
3470 Lakeland Hills Boulevard, Lakeland, Florida 33805
450 Arneson Avenue, Auburndale, Florida 33823
Habitat for Humanity ReStore

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center that sells new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price. Donate appliances, building materials, paint, furniture, cabinets, plumbing, lighting fixtures, windows, and more. See a full list of items and drop off hours on the website.

Proceeds help support the Low-Income and Veterans Repair Program for low-income, elderly and veterans. These individuals are living in unsafe housing and struggling to maintain their homes due to age, disability, or family circumstances. Habitat for Humanity repairs leaky roofs, broken windows & doors, plumbing problems and other small, critically needed home repairs.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore relies on volunteers to achieve our mission. Volunteers who work in our ReStore can choose from greeting customers and assist them in finding their merchandise, help with intake of donations, working in furniture to arrange and decorate décor.

Donation Locations | Consignment + Thrift Stores
1317 George Jenkins Boulevard, Lakeland, Florida 33815
Head Start Preschool Program

Head Start is a federally funded preschool program centered on education, comprehensive health services, and parent leadership. Head Services are available from ages 3 – 5 when the child enters kindergarten. Polk County Public Schools (PCPS) operates Head Start centers for low-income eligible families at schools throughout the county. Student spaces per site are limited, apply through the PCPS website.

Preschool / Daycare for Ages 2 & Up | Child Care Assistance | Youth Services
Healthy Families Polk

Healthy Families is a free, voluntary program that gives families useful information on parenting and child development. Healthy Families offers parenting classes for parents, expectant parents and caregivers of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Classes are open to the community and focus on children from birth to age 12.

Cost: $25 per person, or $40 per couple and all class materials are included in this fee. If you are a Healthy Families Polk participant, there is no charge.

Fee Includes: Six week course, Class materials, Certificate of completion (given at last class for those who participate in all classes)
To register, call (863) 534-5344. Advanced registration is required.

Pregnancy + Childbirth Classes | Youth Services
Healthy Start

Healthy Start is a free home visiting program that provides education and care coordination to pregnant women and families of children under the age of three. They are a helpful contact for finding local resources – 863-534-9224.

Breastfeeding + Lactation Consultants | Youth Services
Heartland for Children

Heartland for Children is a comprehensive child welfare service provider network that includes protective services, foster care, adoptions, independent living, prevention, family preservation, family support services and other related services. Read our article to learn more about becoming a Foster Caregiver in Central Florida.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Adoption | Youth Services
1239 East Main Street, Bartow, Florida 33830
InnerAct Alliance

InnerAct Alliance, formerly the Drug Prevention Resource Center, is very proud to have provided substance abuse prevention to the Hardee, Highlands and Polk County communities in Central Florida since 1985 with services including science-based education in elementary, middle and high schools, teen-driven social norming campaigns, as well as informative presentations and family-oriented awareness events that touch the lives of youth, adults, families, businesses, faith-based organizations, community groups and others in need with an important anti-substance abuse and anti-bullying message.

Volunteer Opportunities Available | Youth Services
621 Florida Avenue South, Lakeland, Florida 33801

kidsPACK is a nonprofit organization with a simple mission – to feed kids. Join the volunteers, community leaders, corporate sponsors, churches and concerned citizens that work with us to ensure no child goes to sleep hungry. Volunteers are needed weekly, as well as donations. $25 will feed a child every weekend for a month, $300 will feed a child for the full year.

Donation Locations | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Food Banks + Food Resources | Youth Services
Lakeland Community Theatre

Lakeland Community Theatre boasts a Main Stage season of five high quality productions; The Eunice Fuller Theatre for Youth three show season as well as classes, summer camps, workshops, Master Classes; The Out of the Box Troupe for special needs youth and adults, a Senior Troupe and many special productions and events each year.

Drama + Theatre Classes | Volunteer Opportunities Available | Theatres + Performing Arts Venues | Sensory Friendly + Special Needs Activities | Homeschool Enrichment - Theater | Art, Music + Theater Field Trips
121 South Lake Avenue, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Lakeland Regional Health Volunteer Opportunities

Please consider serving at Lakeland Regional Health to make a valuable difference in our hospital and community. We offer many opportunities in a wide variety of positions. Plus, as a volunteer you will enjoy many benefits, including: a $7 meal voucher every shift, free Starbucks, free valet, and more! If you enjoy caring for others and are interested in volunteering please call 863.687.1115.

Volunteer Opportunities Available
1324 Lakeland Hills Boulevard, Lakeland, Florida 33805
Lakeland Symphony Orchestra

The Lakeland Symphony Orchestra is a Lakeland-based arts organization that produces and presents symphonic performances, ensemble concerts, school-based outreach, interactive family events, and an annual opera as part of a mission to connect, enrich, engage, and entertain. Formerly the Imperial Symphony Orchestra or ISO.

Volunteer Opportunities Available | Theatres + Performing Arts Venues | Art, Music + Theater Field Trips
111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive, Lakeland, Florida 33801
Larry Libertore Youth Sports Scholarship

The Larry Libertore Youth Sports Scholarship provides funds for young athletes (ages 11-18) to successfully participate in the sport of their choice by playing intramural sports, club ball or developing skills at a camp. The cost of equipment, travel and fees are often barriers to a young athlete’s option to play and this scholarship removes these barriers. Visit the website to learn more.

Supplies + Financial Aid | Youth Services