Charities Need More Help Than Ever During Holiday Season

As Tulsans shop for holiday gifts, they should be aware that many — more than usual this year — won’t have a holiday meal, let alone gifts.
This year, the Tulsa Area United Way reported a 27-percent increase in food assistance requests, 63-percent increase in foreclosure prevention counseling, 40-percent increase in rent assistance requests and 300-percent increase in the number of individuals needing employment assistance.
Area nonprofits, including TAUW, through its 63 partner agencies, will be working harder than ever this year to provide food, clothing and other gifts to those in need.
They need help during the holiday season — and otherwise.
Catholic Charities offers 14 programs from its new campus at 2450 N. Harvard Ave. (For more on the recent move, see page 19.) During the holidays and winter months, the organization provides meals to families and toys and coats for children.
Catholic Charities receives donated turkeys or buys them at a discounted rate from the local food bank, adds traditional fixings, and distributes them Nov. 23-25, said Tish Stuart, director of mission advancement and development. On those days, they need volunteers to sort and distribute the food.
Catholic Charities has also embarked on its Jim Giles Coats for Kids drive and its Saint Nicholas Toys for Kids project. Coats for Kids, which serves about 38,000 people per year, is ongoing until mid-January, and the public is invited to donate new or gently used coats. To get more information about the project, John O’Neill can be reached at (918) 949-4673, ext. 129.
The Toys for Kids project is an opportunity for the public to choose a child or family, receive their wish lists, go shopping, and drop of their gifts, either unwrapped or wrapped and labeled, to Catholic Charities. To participate in the project, Matt DeWeese can be contacted at (918) 949-4671, ext. 120.
Stuart said the agency is in need of volunteers, gently used clothing and nonperishable food items all year.
“Catholic Charities had 1,275 volunteers last year,” Stuart said. “We’ll need even more now with our bigger facility and increased capacity.”
The agency appreciates anyone who is bilingual, she said — doctors, dentists and nurses; attorneys; accountants; and those who can teach life skills.
Other items that are in high demand year-round include school supplies, soup and peanut butter and jelly.
Terri Hozhabri and Laurie Tilley founded Project Elf to fulfill the basic needs of area school children, providing them with clothes, underwear, coats, shoes and other necessary items their families can’t afford.
When they learn about a child in need, they e-mail their fellow “elves,” of which there are about 500, and someone always responds and fills the need.
Around the holidays, Project Elf sponsors an angel tree, comprised of about 100 angels, children and families, from various schools. The elves choose a child or family to shop for, buy the gifts, and Hozhabri and Tilley deliver them anonymously, in brown paper bags, to the schools’ counselors, who distribute them to the students.
In addition to Christmas gifts, Project Elf collects cold-weather wear — coats, hats, gloves, shoes and scarves — to deliver to children.
Year-round, Project Elf’s greatest needs are shoes, school uniforms, facial tissue, hand sanitizer and non-perishable food items.
To donate to Project Elf or to become an elf, go to
Other organizations that need your help during the holidays and otherwise: Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, which distributes food to 440 partner agencies in northeastern Oklahoma, feeding 50,000 people each week. Although the holidays are crucial, a representative said summer is the organization’s neediest season because children don’t have access to meals provided by schools. Donate non-perishable items, and especially protein items, such as peanut butter, canned meats and beans, at 1304 N. Kenosha Ave. More information is available at
Department of Human services sponsors a gift drive called Christmas for Kids for children living in foster care. In addition, the agency is in constant need of clothing, toys, books beds and other items for its foster children. One can visit or call (918) 581-2401 to help.
Iron Gate Homeless Feeding Ministry, at Trinity Episcopal Church at 501 S. Cincinnati Ave., provides the hungry and homeless with food every day of the year. Information about donating or volunteering is available at (918) 582-4128 or
The John 3:16 Mission, at 506 N. Cheyenne Ave., provides food, shelter, clothing and rehabilitation services to Tulsa’s homeless. People can donate food, clothing, shelter items and their time. The nonprofit can be contacted at (918) 587-1186 or

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