Agencies prepare to serve the needy for Christmas

A volunteer set gifts on a table in the gym at Catholic Charities of Louisville’s St. Anthony campus last December. Catholic Charities is among the agencies collecting new toys and items again this year for annual Christmas giveaways. (Record File Photo by Kayla Bennett)

As the Advent season begins and the church prepares for the coming of Jesus, agencies in the Archdiocese of Louisville are preparing for the annual Christmas giveaways that provide toys, shoes and clothing to needy families in the community.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul is collecting gifts for its annual Santa Shop. Unwrapped gifts of clothing, shoes, toys or other goods for children of all ages are needed.

Society clients will be able to shop for presents for their children on Dec. 11. Tony Nochim, communications and public relations coordinator, estimates the Santa Shop will serve between 800 and 1,000 children this year.

To donate a gift or volunteer in the Santa Shop, contact Donna Young, director of volunteer services and conference affairs, at 301-8688 or dyoung@svdplou.org. Donations must be delivered to St. Vincent de Paul by Dec. 7.

Catholic Charities of Louisville is collecting new toys, items for teens and hygiene products through Dec. 11 for its Christmas giveaway.

An appointment should be made to drop off new, unwrapped items at the charities’ St. Anthony campus, 2222 W. Market St. A shopping list is available at cclou.org/christmas/.

The gymnasium on the St. Anthony campus will be set up like a department store where the charities’ clients will be able to shop for new toys and clothing, said Susan Smith, who serves as the agency’s communications and grants coordinator. This is different from previous years, when clients were handed bags filled with items that had been picked out for them.

“It’s so much better for them to get to choose,” said Smith. “It encourages their own dignity and autonomy.”

Toni Flores is coordinating the giveaway and she said that Catholic Charities will serve about 250 families, totaling 1,000 individuals, this year. That is up from 160 families, a total of 700 individuals, served last year, said Flores, the AmeriCorps Vista database coordinator and community partner tracker at Catholic Charities.

The increase is partly because more clients from the Migration and Refugee Services are included this year than have been in past years, said Flores. The agency has also included some of its Hispanic clients in the giveaway, she said.

The number has increased too because different programs within Catholic Charities have seen an increase in need. Flores said some of the clients she’s heard from are facing bankruptcy, foreclosure and death in their families.

Thirteen parishes and three local businesses are collecting and donating items for the giveaway, she said. Clients will be invited to shop by appointment on the St. Anthony campus between Dec. 12-17. For more information, contact Flores at 637-9786, ext. 316.

The Franciscan Kitchen, which serves food to the city’s homeless, will host a Christmas giveaway as well.

The nonprofit is collecting new or gently used coats as well as new underwear, socks, undershirts, blankets and backpacks, and hygiene items and toiletries, to giveaway on Christmas day from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Chuck Mattingly, executive director, asked that donations be dropped off at the kitchen, 748 S. Preston St., by Dec. 17.

Franciscan Kitchen serves more than 600 individuals a hot lunch every weekday. Mattingly said he has seen the need increase lately. On one recent day, the kitchen served 678 people lunch.

For more information about making a donation, call 589-0140 or email franciscankitchen@gmail.com.

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