Six ways to give back to Pittsburghers in need this holiday season

The holiday season is a time to be charitable, and there are scores of specific ways to donate in Pittsburgh this winter

By: - November 29, 2021 11:37 am

(Image via Pittsburgh City Paper)

By Ryan Deto

PITTSBURGH — The holiday season is a time to be charitable, and there are scores of specific ways to donate in Pittsburgh this winter. Usually, that means donating cash, but that isn’t the only way to help out our neighbors.

If you don’t have a lot of expendable income, but still want to help those in need, Pittsburgh City Paper has compiled a list of groups that accept donated items, like clothing and toys, as well as opportunities to volunteer your time. And if you are in need of help this holiday season, we have also highlighted events where you can pick up coats and meals (as well as noted how you can help with those volunteer efforts). The holidays are all about coming together, in giving and accepting help.

Children’s Museum Sweater Drive

From now until Dec. 15, donors can drop off new or gently-used adult and child-sized sweaters as part of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s 22nd Annual Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive. “We are continually inspired by Fred Rogers’ lessons about giving and sharing,” Children’s Museum Director Jane Werner said in a statement. “The Sweater Drive allows us to support those in need in our neighborhood and beyond.”

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There are multiple locations to drop off sweaters, including at the front entrance of the Children’s Museum at 10 Children’s Way in the North Side from 7 a.m.-5 p.m., and in Oakland at the Oaklander’s 24-hour drive-thru collection bin at the valet station in the hotel’s driveway on Bigelow Boulevard. Sweaters will be distributed to nonprofit agencies that work with families and children throughout the Pittsburgh region.

Toy Drives

Bringing joy to children is an essential holiday tradition, and the Pittsburgh region has multiple toy drives that are accepting donations to help families who can’t afford toys this year. The Toys for Tikes Pittsburgh drive will be accepting cash and brand new toys at Jaden’s Catering at 4727 William Penn Highway in Monroeville over two weekends — Sat., Nov. 27-Sun., Nov. 28 and Sat., Dec. 4-Sun., Dec. 5 — from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

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The Play it Forward Pittsburgh toy drive, now in its 11th year, will be collecting gently used toys and then offering them free to families who are having a tough year. There are dozens of drop-off locations listed at playitforwardpittsburgh.com. Financial donations are also accepted via PayPal.

For those who still want to ensure local kids in need get some toys for the holidays, but don’t have time to shop for specific gifts, Toys for Tots has branches all over the Pittsburgh region that accept cash gifts in order to provide toys for children. Visit toysfortots.org and look up your local campaign.

Snow Angels

Property owners in the city of Pittsburgh are responsible for clearing snow off their sidewalks in the winter. For some Pittsburghers, their age or physical ailments make this impossible. To help, the city of Pittsburgh created the Snow Angels program, which matches you with a neighbor who lives within a 10-minute walking radius who is unable to shovel their own driveway. According to the Snow Angels website, “by volunteering, you are helping to keep the sidewalks safe for them and other community members.” Learn more and get matched at pittsburghpa.gov/snowangels.

Coat Giveaway for Kids

On Wed., Dec. 8, the Larimer Consensus Group and state Sen. Lindsey Williams are hosting an event to give away free coats to children in need. Please register ahead of time so they know how many and what size coats to provide. The giveaway is a collaborative effort with Pittsburgh Firefighters, Duquesne Light, and Project Warm.

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The event takes place at 200 Larimer Ave. in Pittsburgh’s Larimer neighborhood from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Register at senatorlindseywilliams.com/event/coat-giveaway.

Food Bank Drive

Help hungry families in need by donating to a Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Drive. Local media platform Girls Running S**t is organizing one drop-off site and is accepting donations based on the food bank’s most-needed items, as well as children’s coats and other cold weather necessities, until Fri., Nov. 31.

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Most-needed items include canned fruits packaged in 100% juice; low sodium/no salt added canned vegetables, beans, and soup; peanut butter, paper products and household items; and baby products like diapers and wipes. No baby food accepted. Cash donations are also encouraged. The drop-off location is at BeSOCIAL East Liberty at 5929 Penn Ave., East Liberty.

Gift Card Drive

North Side bookstore City Books is partnering with immigrant and refugee service nonprofit Hello Neighbor for a gift card drive to help local refugee families that are still acclimating to their new home in Pittsburgh. City Books will be accepting gift cards, as well as cash donations, until Fri., Dec. 31.

Recommended gift cards include Visa gift cards, Walmart, Target, Giant Eagle, Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and IKEA. For additional information or giving options, please contact City Books at [email protected] or 412-321-7323.

Ryan Deto is news editor for Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared.

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