For families hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy, filling the house with all the joyous trappings of the holiday season may fall low on the priority list this year. But, a number of groups have come together to make sure that those who lost their homes and have to focus on paying for rebuilding, have whatever it is they need to revel in the holiday spirit.
Below are 12 ways to give and brighten the holidays for families who are still struggling after the storm.
1. Operation Jersey Shore Santa
Founded by two Jersey Shore residents, Operation Jersey Shore Santa is committed to collecting Christmas trees, toys, gifts and anything else that will brighten the holiday season for Sandy victims. Learn more here.
2. Secret Sandy
Secret Sandy lets people make anonymous donations to grant children’s Christmas wishes. Volunteers will be matched with a child or family in need and their Secret Sandy letters will be forwarded with their requests. Learn more here.
3. Send Patsy a Christmas card
Patsy Roberts, 87, lost her Belle Harbor, N.Y., home to Hurricane Sandy along with a valued collection of unopened greeting cards that she had received over the past 50 years. She was planning on reading them in her final hours. Her son-in-law has started a campaign to have volunteers send 1,000 cards to Patsy by Christmas to fulfill her wish. Learn how you can send Patsy a card here.
4. Kenny Rodgers’ Toy Drive
Country music singer Kenny Rodgers is hosting a toy drive this year for Hurricane Sandy families in Bergen County, N.J., Rogers and will be accepting both toy and monetary donations at his performance on Dec. 19 at the Bergen Performing Arts Center. He will match monetary donations up to $10,000 made the night of his concert to purchase toys for the drive. Learn more here.
5. Baby Buggy Hurricane Sandy Relief
Baby Buggy, a nonprofit that provides clothing essentials to families in need, is hosting a donation drive for Sandy’s smallest victims. Participants can sponsor a pack of diapers, baby formula, a pack ‘n play or even a crib. Learn more here.
6. Adopt a Family
A local nonprofit is gathering names of families in need from hard-hit areas and is matching them with volunteers who are willing to help. Supporters can pair up with a specific family or make a targeted donation. Learn more here.
7. Sponsor a Christmas Tree for Families in the Rockaways
Many families in the Rockaways section of New York lost it all, but one group is making sure that they don't miss out on the chance to have a festive Christmas tree for the holidays. Find out how you can sponsor a tree here.
8. Long Beach Toy Drive
Long Beach residents have set up a holiday toy drive with various drop-off locations throughout the area. The group gave away more than 3,000 toys at their last event. Learn more here.
9. Help first responders
A group of New Jersey first responders has set up an initiative to collect donations for their fellow EMS workers and volunteer firefighters affected by the storm. The group accepts monetary donations along with in-kind donations and is hosting a fundraiser on Dec. 21. Learn more here.
10. Al Angels' Hurricane Sandy Toy Drive
Al’s Angels, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping children diagnosed with life-threatening diseases or who have experienced domestic violence or financial hardship, is hosting a toy drive for families affected by Hurricane Sandy and is looking for donations and volunteers. Learn more here.
11. Help a Pet
Many pets were displaced by Sandy and the Animal League America is one of a number of organizations that continues to provide relief to the hurricane's four-legged victims. Learn how you can help here.
12. Hope in a Bag Food Drive
New Jersey’s “Hope In A Bag” food drive is asking for donations in the form of nonperishable food items, personal hygiene products and gift cards for affected families. Find a list of items and drop-off locations here.