The holidays are all about spending time with family, giving thanks for all of our many blessings and eating delicious, home-cooked meals. Sitting down at the table with loved ones for a mouth-watering Thanksgiving dinner or gathering to string colorful lights and place ornaments on the Christmas tree are traditions most families take part in and enjoy during this special time of year. Are you thinking about changing or adding another tradition to your family’s festivity schedule? Make this year the year your family makes an impact on the community it calls home.
As many Frisco families already know and experience regularly, volunteering in the area can be a rewarding experience, especially with the season of giving approaching. Taking part in something that is for the good of other people who are less fortunate transforms one’s self-involved mindset into one of caring more for others and helping those in need. When you selflessly give of your time, no donation is too small and every little bit counts. While you are creating and participating in the family traditions that are close to your heart, think about all the ways your family can create new holiday traditions by getting involved at any of Frisco’s unique charities or volunteer organizations.
Operation Christmas Child
Operation Christmas Child (OCC) was established in 1993 and has helped deliver gifts to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. Anyone can volunteer to contribute shoeboxes full of gifts that are donated to children in various parts of the world. Sarah Metraus, the organization’s media relations coordinator, says, “A lot of children have received boxes when they would normally never get a gift, and often times, it is the first gift they have ever received.”
This is a great opportunity for children and families to see firsthand how big of an impact giving of their time and money makes to others. If your family is interested in donating gifts through OCC, some gift suggestions to fill the holiday boxes include toys, school supplies, hygiene items, toothbrushes, soap, combs, accessories like socks, hair bands and sunglasses. To make a gift extra special, it is suggested that you include a personal note and a photo of yourself or your family. If you choose to include your address with your personal note, the child receiving your gift may even write back to you!
National Collection Week is November 16-23, and the drop off location for the Frisco area is at Preston Ridge Baptist Church (5849 Hillcrest Road). To learn more about the organization or to download and print a label of information about the age and gender of the child who will be receiving your donated box, go to
samaritanspurse.org/occ. On the website, families can find everything they need to help make this time of year a magical one for every one.
Are you looking for an outlet to put your home maintenance skills to the test? Frisco Helpers is a program of seniors who go out of their way to donate their labor and resources to other local seniors. The group supports people who are 55 years old or older with special needs by providing maintenance and repair services for their homes. Program administrator Carol Coles says, “The key focus is on home safety issues such as the installation of bathroom grab bars, wheelchair ramps and smoke detectors.” They also do home repairs, including fixing dripping faucets, screen repair and minor electrical repairs. The handy man program helps with fence and computer repair, interior home maintenance, miscellaneous construction projects and roof patching. The volunteers in this organization are mainly comprised of seniors who meet at the First United Methodist Church in Frisco every Thursday to discuss the upcoming week’s assignments.
Ms. Coles says Frisco Helpers “has served more than 60 clients, several on multiple occasions. There is no charge for the help we provide, but donations are welcome to offset cost of materials.”
If a hands-on approach to helping those in the community souns like something you would enjoy throughout the holiday season (or during the rest of the year), email the organization at email@example.com or visit friscohelpers.org to lend your services.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County
If you want to help some of the children in the Frisco, McKinney and Plano communities, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County (BGCCC) may be just the organization you should reach out to. Someone in your family might be the perfect homework tutor, a mentor for special needs children or a great volunteer to help out in any of the various after school programs.
Bethaney Kleinheksel, the director of volunteer services for the organization, explains that the BGCCC “takes care of kids after school, keeps them off of the streets and provides a safe and supportive environment for kids to learn and grow.” She continues, “Many parents in our community work full time and are in need of a safe place for their children to go during those vulnerable after school hours. The mission of the BGCCC is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.”
The holidays are a vital time for the community to put in the extra effort to support local children. Families are busy and resources can become stretched. Ms. Kleinheksel says, “Each year we partner with the community in an effort to provide each child with a gift during that special time of year. Each Collin County Boys & Girls Club hosts a Christmas party with the children and their families. A warm meal is provided for families, typically by way of a donation from a local restaurant, along with gifts for the children. Volunteers can host toy drives beginning as early as mid-October through their place of employment, church, other organization or just on their own. Being able to provide children with gifts is only made possible by partnering with caring individuals in our community. Please consider hosting a Christmas toy drive for the BGCCC this season.”
If you wish to volunteer or contribute to the Christmas toy drive, visit bgccc.org. Learn everything you need to know about the organization and volunteering to help make a difference.
Frisco Humane Society
In addition to people who need our help, we cannot forget about all of the animals in need. Our furry friends need love, too. The Frisco Humane Society (FHS) is a volunteer-run, nonprofit animal rescue organization dedicated to providing animals with the love and care they need. The FHS was founded in 2001, and it has saved more than 8,600 animals. It also provides a temporary foster home for animals that may need special attention and medical care until their permanent homes are found. Just imagine rescuing one of the organization’s animals and bringing it home to your family. The joy it could bring to everyone is unparalleled to the life-changing event of helping a pet find a warm and loving home for the holidays.
The holidays are a great time to get involved. Jacki Scott, a board member of FHS, says, “Every Christmas, many cats and dogs wait for their forever home in FHS foster homes. While they might not get a forever home for Christmas, you can make their holiday merrier by adopting a rescued animal, donating money to go towards medical expenses or vet bills, providing supplies or by offering your home as a foster home to an unwanted animal. Families can volunteer and participate in our annual Angel Tree giving program or Santa Claws and Paws 5K and Fun Run.”
The Angel Tree allows people to pick an ornament from the tree that features an “angel” for the season. Ms. Scott says, “Each ornament features an available rescued FHS cat or dog along with their wish list.” Angel Trees have been placed in many retail locations in the Frisco and McKinney areas.
FHS also needs runners and volunteers to participate in the Santa Claws and Paws 5K and Fun Run on Saturday, December 12, from 8-10 a.m. at Little Elm Park. Updated information about this event can be found on the organization’s Facebook page or go to friscohumanesociety.com to learn more.
Frisco Family Services
Frisco Family Services (FFS) has two volunteer opportunities centered on the holidays. The first is the Thanksgiving Meal Program. It allows people to donate Thanksgiving meal boxes, which include everything needed for a family to cook a traditional meal. Families can also contribute financially by donating grocery store gift cards. Last year, FFS served more than 200 families and hopes to serve just as many or more this year.
The group receives non-perishable food items while the food pantry takes in the perishable items such as milk and eggs. The volunteer services manager, Heather Canterbury, says that volunteers load boxes and items into the clients’ vehicles the Saturday before Thanksgiving. She suggests that volunteers who help load boxes into cars are at least 16 years old, while 11 to 15-year-olds are able to safely work inside the pantry.
Ms. Canterbury says it is their mission “to help clients achieve efficiency so they do not have to worry about going to the store to get their items. It is also about normalizing their own holiday at home.”
In addition to the Thanksgiving Meal Program, the Holiday Store Program allows families in need to shop for gifts at no cost. A volunteer sponsors a single person, such as a child, parent or senior. This program is client-choice, which means “a volunteer assists them in shopping, but a volunteer does not do the shopping for them,” Ms. Canterbury explains. Personal shoppers and personal shopping assistants are provided with specific details about the families, such as age and gender, and that is all volunteers know about each client. Donations are sorted out in the store through shelving and clothing racks. Ms. Canterbury says, “The families know best what their kid likes, so they want to go pick out their shirt and do not want someone doing it for them. They may know that their child likes striped socks, not solids.” When clients are finished shopping, personal shoppers take them back to the gift-wrapping elves and everything goes home with them.
FFS truly offers families of all ages to help those in need in the community. To see how you can make a positive impact in Frisco, go to friscofamilyservices.org.
Small World Charity
Small World Charity is a is a nonprofit organization that locally partners with area schools, the communities and companies whose mission is to assist struggling families, focusing especially on the needs of children and their education. Small World Charity, which was started by a Frisco elementary school teacher, provides food, clothing, emergency funds and Christmas presents to families in need. Child-focused programs are available regardless of belief, ethnic background or gender. The Christmas Angel program specifically helps families with school-age children. Volunteers work on gift-filled Angel bags and go down a checklist adding any missing items to the wish list. In 2013, more than 1,700 children were provided with gifts because of this charity’s efforts. To help children right here in Frisco, please visit swcharity.org.
This holiday season, embrace the opportunity to serve others and truly make a difference in someone’s life. Involving your family in a local cause can help instill the true meaning of the holidays and act as a helpful reminder of how our community works together and thrives on the generosity of citizens. Now is your chance to give back! This winter, let us take the time to share the kindness of the Frisco community with neighbors in need.