Local gift guide: Giving back | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Local gift guide: Giving back

How to donate toys and clothes to those in need this holiday season

If you're lucky enough to still have a job during the pandemic, and better yet, to have not lost many wages over the past year, then now is an especially great time to give back. During a holiday season when so many families are struggling, there are plenty of ways to give back, like financial donations and to buying gifts for those who can't afford them.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid’s Charity Registry
The PRWA was formed at the beginning of the pandemic when it became clear restaurant and service industry workers would be in dire need of help. The group has provided support to hundreds of workers who need assistance with food insecurity, finances, and more. Their charity registry through Target features gifts like dolls and games for kids, as well as winter essentials like coats and masks. Items can be ordered to be shipped directly to the PRWA's distribution center.

Toy Donations to UPMC Children's Hospital Child Life Department
The hospital's department "uses play and expressive arts to help meet the developmental, psychosocial, emotional, and educational needs of our patients." Donations for toys, clothes, gift cards, and other items can be purchased from the department's online gift registry, and will be delivered directly to the hospital. UPMC is not currently accepting in-person donations at the Children's Hospital, but those who do have gifts to donate in-person can make arrangements by contacting Kathi Exeler at kathi.exler@chp.edu.


USPS Operation Santa
The long-running program from the U.S. Postal Service connects kids writing letters to Santa asking for gifts with people who want to make a young stranger's Christmas. Scroll through the letters on the Operation Santa website, adopt one that speaks to you, and purchase any or all of the requested gifts. Once your package is assembled, take it to the Post Office and they will scan a QR code to get it ready for mailing (to keep things safe, no addresses are exchanged). Fair warning: this year's letter are especially heartbreaking as many kids explain how the year has been financially hard for their family.

Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Registry
Help out families sheltering from domestic violence through the WCS by purchasing clothing, blankets, toiletries, pajamas, diapers, and other necessities through the WCS' Amazon registry. Items will be delivered directly to WCS. Visit the WCS website to donate.

Request donations instead of gifts
When friends and family ask what your holiday wish list, consider asking for a donation in your name to a favorite charity or nonprofit organization, in lieu of material goods, especially if you already have an abundance of them. This is a good way to give gifts too. It might seem like you're shorting the recipient, but someone donating money to a charity you love in your name is a perfectly thoughtful gift.

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