Salem, here’s how to help folks in need this holiday season

It’s gift-giving season, and many Salem organizations are working to help people in need in our community for the holidays.

They rely on donors to help buy toys for kids, get coats to people without shelter and otherwise take care of neighbors.

If you’re seeking a way to spread some winter cheer, here’s your guide to Salem donation drives happening now.

Salem police and fire toy drives

Salem’s first responders are collecting toys for kids in need.

New, unwrapped toys can be donated to any Salem fire station, or at a special event put on by the Salem Professional Firefighters Local 314 on Saturday, Dec. 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Salem Fred Meyer, 3450 Commercial St. S.E. See a list of fire stations here.

Donations to the police drive will be collected through Dec. 13 at these locations:

  • Cycle Country, 4764 Portland RD NE
  • Elite Chiropractic & Injury Rehab, 2150 Commercial ST SE, Suite 10
  • Green Acres Landscape, 5711 Gaffin RD SE
  • Physiq Fitness (all locations)
  • Salem Electric, 633 7th ST NW
  • White Oak Construction, 2455 River RD S

People can donate toys directly to the police station at 333 Division St. N.E. Toys for kids up to age 14 are needed, and wrapping paper donations are also accepted.

Help foster kids through CASA

CASA of Marion County is collecting new toys for all ages and gift cards for teens in foster care through Dec. 15.

Gifts can be dropped off during office hours, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, at CASA offices, 3530 River Road N. in Keizer.

Family Building Blocks seeks books, toys through Dec. 1

Family Building Blocks is collecting donations of children’s books, coats and educational toys. Donations can be delivered to Chelsea’s Place, 2425 Lancaster Dr N.E. through Friday, Dec. 1.

People can also buy needed items from the organization’s wish list directly at Contact Julie Duran with questions, [email protected].

Salvation Army seeks holiday gifts

People can contribute to a Salvation Army gift drive for local families by buying items off two registries from the organization. Learn more on the Salvation Army website here.

Adopt a Polk County family

Polk County is seeking supporters for its holiday assistance program to connect families with gifts for the holiday season.

Donors can indicate how many children they want to support and will be matched with a family with childrens’ wish lists. Donors typically spend about $50 per child.

Gifts can be dropped off at the Polk County Fairgrounds on Monday, Dec. 18.

If you’re interested, fill out the form here to be matched with a family or donate in another way. Contact Stephanie Gilbert [email protected] with questions.

Grab a giving tree tag

Salem First Presbyterian Church invites people to buy gifts for children who are currently or have recently experienced homelessness through a Giving Tree.

Tags on the tree have age, gender, and a wish for something special the child would like. You can help make this wish come true either by taking a tag from the tree in the fellowship hall and purchasing a gift, contacting the office at [email protected], or by donating to the Deacons Christmas Fund at (select Deacon’s Congregational Aid). Please attach your gift tag to the purchase you made so we can make sure it gets to the correct child and mark any donation you make with Deacon’s Congregational Aid.  

Anyone can come take a tag from the church during office hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The church is at 770 Chemeketa St. N.E.

Gifts and donations should be returned to the church by Dec. 17 with the tag attached.

Westminster Presbyterian Church has a giving tree for patients at the Oregon State Hospital and Salem students. Tags for patients have a short list of requests and their age and gender, if provided, plus instructions. There are also tags for people who want to buy a gift card for a student in Salem.

Anyone can stop by the church between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday to pick up a tag. Westminster’s address is 3737 Liberty Road S.

Gifts and donations should be put under the tree with the tag attached by Dec. 10.

Donate coats, blankets and cold weather gear

Windermere Real Estate is holding its annual Share the Warmth Drive through Dec. 20. Donations can be dropped off at local Windermere offices to benefit local nonprofits.

  • Windermere Pacific West Properties is working with the Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Project (HOAP) and is asking for coats, blankets, gloves and scarves in all sizes. Drop off at 4285 Commercial St. SE, Suite 100 on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Windermere Heritage is working with Be Bold Street Ministries and is asking for coats, blankets, hats, mittens and anything for pets. Drop off at 960 Liberty St. SE #250 on weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
  • Windermere Willamette Valley is working with the Salem Dream Center and is asking for blankets and new or gently used coats in all sizes. Drop off at 675 Orchard Heights Road on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Support Salem’s Soup Squad

Soup Squad provides free community meals and needed toiletries and other survival items regularly at Wallace Marine Park and Marion Square Park.

With cooler weather, the squad is seeking camping gear, warming supplies and other items to help unsheltered neighbors. Soup Squad has an Amazon wishlist of needed items here. People can also sign up to volunteer for Soup Squad here.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is Salem Reporter’s managing editor. She joined Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and covers city news, education, nonprofits and a little bit of everything else. She’s been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she’s a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.