If you'll be in Minneapolis-St. Paul during Christmas and would like to donate a toy to a child who otherwise might not have a gift to open, several agencies will gratefully accept your donations. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at various locations throughout the area for distribution to Twin Cities children. Monetary donations are also accepted if you can't make it to a drop-off location. It's a great feeling knowing that your donation will bring happiness to children at Christmas. And, if you're a family in need of a Christmas toy for a child, try to register with the agencies well in advance of Christmas.
The Salvation Army has five Toy Shop locations in the Twin Cities: Minneapolis, Roseville, Burnsville, Stillwater, and Anoka. Toy donations are also accepted at the Salvation Army's headquarters. Toys are needed for newborns through 14 years, but there are usually shortages for the kids ages 7 to14, so consider buying a toy with that age range in mind. Monetary donations go to the purchase of toys.
If you need a gift for a child, call or register online. Families can collect their toys at one of the Salvation Army Toy Shop locations in mid-December.
Toys for Tots collects toys at multiple drop-off locations, including Toys R Us stores, for distribution to agencies throughout the Twin Cities area. Marine Reserves organize the program and deliver the toys. Monetary donations can be made as well.
To receive toys, register with the nearest agency at Toys for Tots starting Oct. 1. The registration deadline is Nov. 15.
Neighbors, Inc., is a South St. Paul community organization that helps low-income families in Inver Grove Heights, Lilydale, Mendota, Mendota Heights, South St. Paul, Sunfish Lake, and West St. Paul. Through the agency, you can adopt a family and you'll be given each family member's first name, age, gender, clothing size, and gift suggestions.
For those families not adopted, gift packages of Christmas toys and clothing are accepted. For suggestions and donation information, see the Neighbors, Inc. website.
Starting in October, families who need help can register at the agency's office for assistance with Christmas toys, winter clothing, and holiday food.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz, sometimes known as FB4K, is a nonprofit organization that helps all kids by providing bikes to those in need. The organization collects used children's bicycles, fixes them up, and then distributes them to Twin Cities children through local schools, churches, and other community organizations. Helmets are also available. Monetary donations can be made online.
If you'd like a bike for your child, note that bikes cannot be directly given to individual families. Check with nearby nonprofit agencies, churches, and schools to request a bike.
Good in the Hood provides holiday food baskets and holiday gifts to Twin Cities families through its Holiday Help Campaign. The "shopping with dignity" program lets parents choose the holiday gifts for their children that best meet their needs and interests. The organization also serves as a Toys for Tots distribution agency in partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps. Monetary donations are accepted online.