toy drive

Gilbert police and fire departments conduct an annual toy drive during the holiday season and yield hundreds of gifts for needy kids.

Here are a few selected nonprofit groups in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale that are providing programs this Thanksgiving and Christmas season. It includes what you can do to help and how to contact them.


Adopt-A-Family Program 

7700 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 107, Scottsdale., Jenny at 480-312-2224 or Vista del Camino at 480-312-2323

What they do: The City of Scottsdale’s Thanksgiving and Christmas food distribution program is open to income-eligible, pre-screened Scottsdale families. The first part is a Thanksgiving distribution from Nov. 12 to 16. Families are given a bag of Thanksgiving items as well as a turkey.  The second distribution happens the week of Dec. 18. Families are given three gifts per child and a grocery gift card to purchase a holiday meal. 

Needs: Volunteers and donations are needed for both holiday distributions.


Adopt-a-Senior Program

7700 E. Roosevelt St., Ste. 107, Scottsdale., Jenny at 480-312-2224 or Via Linda Senior Center at 480-312-5810

What they do: The City of Scottsdale’s Thanksgiving and Christmas food distribution program is open to income-eligible, pre-screened Scottsdale residents 55 and older and disabled adults. The first part is a Thanksgiving distribution Nov. 19. Participants are given a bag of Thanksgiving items as well as a gift card to purchase a protein item. The second distribution happens the week of Dec. 11. three gift, some small toiletry items and a grocery gift card to purchase a holiday meal.

Needs: Volunteers and donations are needed for both holiday distributions.


Arizona Partnership for Children

Contact:  or 480-388-3292

What they do: Provides “Parents as Teachers,” a home-visiting program offered to pregnant women and families with children up to 5 years old in Mesa, Gilbert and Queen Creek.

Needs: Children’s books and clothing and diapers.



345 S. California St., Chandler.

Contact:, 480-963-1423 or Shawna Fellenz at

What they do: Formerly the Chandler Christian Community Center, AZCEND includes a food bank, community action program, family resource center, Chandler and Gilbert senior centers and I-HELP. AZCEND is distributing emergency food boxes Dec. 17 (9 to 11 a.m.) and 18 (9 a.m. to noon). The organization is also hosting a holiday gift distribution.

Needs: Unwrapped gifts for all ages, new bilingual books, new books for preschool ages, holiday food items and new men’s and women’s socks.


Boost a Foster Family, Inc.

Contact:, Jenny Cook at 480-298-5665 or

What they do: Help kinship foster families overcome obstacles to becoming licensed.

Needs: Volunteers to conduct drives within the community. Need gift cards to Walmart, Amazon, Petco and Home Depot. Also need donations of items such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, small lockable tool boxes, locks and new car seats.


Chandler Care Center

777 E. Galveston St., Chandler.

Contact: or 480-812-7900

What they do: Chandler Unified School District group is distributing Thanksgiving dinners to needy Chandler residents. However, registration is closed and it’s now referring people to ICAN and the Salvation Army’s Thanksgiving dinners. Group is also hosting a Thanksgiving Family Assistance Day prior to the holiday.

Needs: Food donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.



4090 E. Cullumber Court, Gilbert.

Contact: or Michelle at 602-955-9059

What they do: Provides emergency shelter where residents receive basic needs, counseling, case management and referrals for additional services. Chrysalis’ Holiday program is called Wonderland, which includes two components, a holiday carnival and a gift-card program that gives people healing from abuse the opportunity to shop for a holiday meal and gifts for their family.

Needs: Donations of new holiday/winter pajamas for clients for the holiday carnival and/or by donating gift cards. The needs are new women’s holiday pajamas (all sizes); new baby, toddler, youth and juniors holiday pajamas for girls and boys (all sizes); Fry’s Foods gift cards in $15 increments, Kohl’s gift cards in $25 increments and Walmart gift cards in $25 or $50 increments.


Face in the Mirror Foundation 

6615 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.

Contact: 480-443-1344,

What they do: For 10 years Face in the Mirror has been giving hope to those battling cancer, uplifting their spirits so they may find renewed strength and a sense of calm in the midst of their personal storm. The foundation provides patients “with essential touch that brings calm to mind, body and spirit, helping to restore hope, give back dignity and nurture self-esteem.”

Needs: Contact the foundation for specific needs.


Feed My Starving Children

1345 S. Alma School Road, Mesa.


What they do: Tackles world hunger by sending volunteer-packed, nutritious meals to 70 countries.

Needs: Food donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Volunteers are also needed for two-hour packing sessions to hand-pack life-saving meals for starving children around the world. It needs up to 140 people per packing session. The group is holding a marathon food-packing event Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Phoenix Convention center. See website for details.


Gilbert Police, Fire & Rescue

85 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert.

Contact: or 480-503-6300

What they do: Supports Gilbert families in need through a partnership with Gilbert Public Schools with a gift and toy distribution to Gilbert children at Christmas. It takes place from 9 to 11 a.m. Dec. 8 at Walmart, 2501 S. Market St. Event includes free fire truck rides and pictures with Santa with a recommended donation of a toy, gift card or clothes.

Needs: New unwrapped toys, new clothing and shoes and gift cards. Drop-off sites include all Gilbert Fire Stations and Gilbert Town Hall. Full list at town website.


House of Refuge

6935 E. Williams Field Road, Mesa.

Contact:, 480-988-9242 or Lisa Rivera at

What they do: Assists homeless families in crisis by providing transitional housing and supportive services that assist participants as they strive towards self-sufficiency and seek to obtain permanent housing.

Needs: New pot-and-pan sets, new cutlery sets and new dish sets for its “welcome home baskets” that families receive when they move in.


iCAN, Positive Programs for Youth

650 E. Morelos St., Chandler.

Contact:, Raven Jordan at or 480-874-7580, or Katie Stringham at 480-241-7128

What they do: The organization serves at-risk youth. Thanksgiving dinner is available for all Chandler families. Event will include live music by Rhythm of the Sun band, dinner, raffles and dessert.

Needs: Help with making gingerbread houses and ornament building. Supplies needed by Dec. 12th.

Jewish Family & Children's Services (JFCS) 

1255 W. Baseline Road, Mesa.

Contact: or 602-452-4627.

What they do: JFCS is an organization dedicated to strengthening the community through quality behavioral health social services, and primary medical care to children, families and adults.

Needs: Adopt a family, i.e. purchase items on the family’s holiday’s wish list.


Matthew's Crossing Food Bank 

1368 N. Arizona Ave. Ste. 112, Chandler. or Jenn Lowry at 480-766-2625.

What they do: Holiday food boxes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Group provides assistance for individuals and families in need in the East Valley. Each month it feeds more than 5,500 people. It will be distributing 500 Thanksgiving dinners to existing clients.

Needs: Toys at Christmas. Food items most needed include canned chicken, ramen noodles, mac and cheese cups, oatmeal packets, granola bars and canned pasta.


Native Health Mesa

777 W. Southern Ave. Suite 301, Mesa. or 480-550-4048.

What they do: Group is hosting its 19th Annual Native American Children Toy Drive and Concert on Nov. 23. It’ll be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Arizona Science Center.

Needs: A new, unwrapped toy or children’s clothing for ages up to 17 years old. To volunteer, call 602-279-5262.


A New Leaf

868 E. University Dr., Mesa.

Contact: or Bridget Talty at 480-464-4648.

What they do: Provides a broad spectrum of support services to help individuals and families in crisis. The organization operates more than 30 programs with 600 staff members and 4,000 volunteers throughout the Valley.

Needs: Gift cards to grocery stores, Walmart, Target, gas stations, fast food and Harkins. Passes to zoo, museums, cultural events, sporting events. Public Transit bus/light rail passes. New coffee pots, pots/pans, silverware, toasters, crock pots, hand mixers, blenders, corelle or plastic dishes, twin sheets. Board games, card games, Legos, barbies, dolls, trucks and scooters.


Open Arms Care Center

522 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 103, Gilbert.

Contact: or 480-539-0175.

What they do: Volunteer-operated organization that provides supplemental food and clothing to Gilbert residents in need. It currently serves approximately 1,500 people a month.

Needs: Volunteers capable of independently picking up food donations from local schools during the daytime hours using their personal vehicle (with an Open Arms provided trailer where needed). Also in need of the following foods: tuna, rice, juice (shelf stable) and cereal.


Paz De Cristo Community Center 

424 W. Broadway Road, Mesa.

Contact: or 480-464-2370.

What they do: Serves 50,000 meals to homeless people each month, including a daily dinner. Group will continue feeding the community through the holidays.

Needs: Volunteers always needed to join more than 8,000 others who give their time to the organization each year. The group’s website has a volunteer calendar to sign up for the day that works best.


Resurrection Street Ministry

1135 E. Main St., Mesa. or 480-615-2799.

What they do: Group provides assistance to individuals and group home faith-based programs. Provided food to 1,000 families per week in 2017. Seniors and veterans can receive a free food box on the second Tuesday of each month (next one Dec. 11).

Needs: Organizers are looking for volunteers for the holidays. Postings for what help is needed can be found at


The Salvation Army

85 E. Saragosa St., Chandler.

Contact: 480-210-9380.

What they do: Salvation Army has 29 social service agencies across Arizona. The Chandler location is hosting a community-wide Thanksgiving Dinner. It’s set for 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chandler Community Center.

Needs: Food donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. Volunteers are needed for the Thanksgiving dinner. Call 480-963-2041 to volunteer.


Society of St. Vincent de Paul 

230 W. Galveston St., Chandler.

963 W. Elliot Road, Chandler.

2352 W. Main St., Mesa.

Contact:, or 480-814-7778.

What they do: Provides housing, clothing, food and other services to the under-privileged.

Needs: Food donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. All holiday volunteer opportunities listed online.


United Food Bank

245 S. Nina Dr., Mesa.

358 E. Javelina Ave, Mesa

Contact: or Jackie Shelley at or 480-398-4442.

What they do: Works to end hunger in the East Valley and Eastern Arizona by providing 61,000 meals every day through a network of over 200 community nonprofit partners.

Needs: Monetary donations to support operations of distributing food. Volunteers to sort and pack food. HOA’s, corporations, faith communities and others who are willing to host fund drives, food drives or community fundraising activities benefitting UFB, such as walk-a-thons, or other holiday activities. An additional $350,000 raised to cover the costs of additional truck rental, drivers and fuel, as well as hire seasonal workers to get the food where it needs to go.


Wounded Warrior Project 

4150 N. Drinkwater Blvd. Scottsdale

Contact: 480-946-0663,

What they do: Provides a wide range of services to veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound while serving in the military on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

Needs: Monetary donation primarily, but interested persons can live-chat with a member of the organization.

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