Perhaps like no other time, many people in Orange County, California, are entering a Christmas and holiday season struggling financially and emotionally, especially because of stress and worry brought about by the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
But many agencies and communities throughout the county have risen to the challenge, reaching out to help others in their time of need.
Below is a list of organizations offering assistance during the holiday season.
The CalFresh Collaborative states on its website that it “exists because of one reason: to help our community.”
This site offers an incredibly extensive, one-stop resource to link up to and find food pantries, soup kitchens, home delivered meals, congregate meals, and after-school meals.
“We are working together with the sole purpose of making it easier for people to apply for CalFresh benefits, with the help of our friendly staff at trusted and convenient locations throughout Orange County,” CalFresh states.
“By offering the community one phone number to call and one website to visit for food assistance, our hope is that getting access to food will be easier than ever before.”
A free food map can be found on the CalFresh website.
OCFA Drive-Thru Toy Drive
The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) has scheduled a drive-thru toy drive for Dec. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, OCFA will not collect toys at fire stations this year. However, fire stations throughout the county are partnering with Christian radio station K-WAVE to help collect and distribute toys to nonprofits throughout Orange County.
“We know that with the COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating wildfire season the need for toys this year will be even greater than before,” OCFA states on its website. “Many people are out of work and unable to provide gifts for their young children and teenagers.”
The Dec. 19 drive-thru donation event will be held at Crossline Church, at 23331 Moulton Parkway in Laguna Hills.
Toy donations can also be dropped off by businesses and residents at the K-WAVE warehouse during the week leading up to Christmas. The warehouse is located at 3232 West MacArthur Blvd. in Santa Ana.
Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Community members may also contribute monetary donations through the OCFA Foundation.
For more information, visit OCFA.org/ToyDrive
Holiday Meal Program for Seniors
Advance OC’s Holiday Meal program “aims to provide meals for vulnerable seniors who are experiencing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 crisis.”
The organization’s hope is to bring together local volunteers and donors to provide two days of meals to “our most vulnerable seniors, while at the same time supporting local restaurants who are also facing economic challenges due to the ongoing crisis.”
The program is community based and relies on generous tax-deductible donations.
Each meal costs $10. The program suggests a $20 contribution, which provides two meal deliveries for a participating senior.
To register to receive meals or volunteer to deliver meals, visit AdvanceOC.com/HolidayMeals2020
Free Holiday Meal in Tustin
Organizers of a free holiday meal giveaway are inviting anyone who’s interested to join them at the Columbus Tustin Park on Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Supervisor Don Wagner and the City Of Tustin are partnering to distribute the free holiday meals, which include oven-roasted turkey, buttermilk mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter stuffing, mixed vegetables, sage pan gravy, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls, butter, and Southern eggnog mousse with graham cracker crumble.
The meals will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, and organizers say masks must be worn.
The park is located at 17522 Beneta Way in Tustin.
Food Distribution Events
Two other groups will also be providing upcoming food distribution events.
The Power of One Foundation will be distributing food at the Orange County Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa on Dec. 19 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The emergency food assistance will be handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.
Interested parties are requested to enter through Gate 3 on Fairview Drive.
At Angel Stadium in Anaheim, the United Across Borders Foundation will hold a Holiday Toy and Grocery Distribution event on Dec. 19 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Each car will receive one set of groceries and two gifts. The first-come, first-served event is sponsored in part by Orange County Supervisor Doug Chaffee.