ORLANDO, FLORIDA - Every year, the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in downtown Orlando tries to make Christmas special for the homeless families living at the shelter. But the lack of donations this year could make that hard.
The Mission says they may have to cancel their Christmas Extravaganza event this Saturday if they don’t get more toys. During the event, residents living at the shelter typically get to select Christmas gifts that have been donated while their kids are distracted playing holiday games and building gingerbread houses.
Director of Development Tanneka Guice says people still struggling after Hurricane Irma could be one of the reasons the donations just aren’t coming in this year.
“But there’s also been an increase of the children that we have at the mission. There’s about 70 kids here now.”
Guice says the room that’s been set up to hold the donations is severely lacking.
“We know there’s more to Christmas than that but the fact of waking up without gifts under the tree is disheartening, on top of the fact that they are living in a shelter. So that’s why we want to make it extra special.”
The shelter needs toys for kids ages 3 months up to 17-years-old. They especially need toys for boys ages 9 -17. They’re also asking for gifts cards of $25 and up to Walmart or Target to give to the parents so they can hopefully fulfill their kids wish lists.
“This way we are restoring the dignity back to the parent,” Guise says. “It’s not coming from some stranger, it’s actually coming from mom or dad so they can see that sparkle in their eyes from the gifts that they’ve been given.”
For ideas on what to get, you can check out their Amazon Wish List and drop off toys at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission on 1521 W. Washington St. in Orlando.