Ideas for Holiday Giving in Des Moines


holiday givingThe holidays are a great time to give back and pay your good fortune forward. Or maybe 2019 has you needing a hand-up for the holidays.

Whether you have extra time or resources to give or need a little help, here are some of the programs you can partner with throughout our community this holiday season.

Holiday Giving in Des Moines

Children & Families of Iowa

Foundation for Children & Families of Iowa (CFI) hosts an Adopt a Family program. Sponsors can “adopt” a family who is receiving services from CFI and purchase gifts and necessities for each family member.

CFI has let us know they have received the required number of family sponsors needed for 2019 – BUT – they have addition giving options for families receiving their services and not participating in the Adopt a Family program.

The Holiday Shop allows clients to choose gifts for their kids and family, get cleaning supplies and household items, and replenish their pantry with nonperishable food thus alleviating some of their struggles during the holiday season. There will also be a wrapping station available for the families to wrap their gifts. 

Volunteers are needed to assist with staffing the Adopt-A-Family distribution room and Holiday Shop. Learn more and sign up, here

Gather friends, family, neighbors, co-workers or club members and host a toy drive for CFI clients not eligible for the Adopt-A-Family program. Parents or guardians select up to three gifts per gifts child. The most needed gifts include toys and gift items for children ages 12-18 years of age, Barbies, dolls, educational toys, infant and toddler toys, and sports equipment and apparel. To sign-up, click here or donate to Applebee’s Coach’s Toy Drive at your neighborhood Applebee’s.

Invite your friends, family, co-workers, or customers to purchase items for clients served by one of the CFI eligible programs drives. Examples include: personal care items, diapers and wipes, new twin size sheets and blankets, pillows and pillow cases, new women’s undergarments (all sizes), Children’s sock/shoes and snow boots, non-perishable food, and paper products. For additional giving options contact CFI via email at [email protected] or call 515-697-7961.

Community Youth Concepts

Community Youth Concepts hosts a Holiday Party, for students, that features a craft center where kids of all ages can create homemade gifts for their family members. For complete details and a list of what supplies are needed email Alicia at [email protected].


EveryStep is the name behind services like HCI Hospice Care Services, Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Amanda the Panda and more than 30 programs and services with a shared mission.  

Make a difference in the lives of those served by EveryStep through their Adopt-A-Family program; team up with your friends, family, or co-workers this year to adopt a family. By collecting items on a family’s wish list, you can help make their season brighter. To learn more about adopting a family, contact Leslie Taft at 515-558-9590 or [email protected].

Cheer Box
For those who have lost a loved one, the holidays can be especially difficult. Cheer Boxes are a holiday box of twelve family-friendly gifts that go out to all families who have felt the pain of losing a loved one. This year, EveryStep Grief & Loss Services’ Amanda the Panda program hopes to deliver 400 Cheer Boxes to families and individuals who have lost a loved one.

There are three ways you can help:

Donate Cheer Box Gifts – Cheer Box gifts are collected year-round. If you would like to donate items you can do so in several ways.

  • You can drop off needed items – including blankets, picture frames, candles, puzzles, board games, journals, floating sky lanterns, and amaryllis bulbs – to the Amanda the Panda offices at 1821 Grand Ave. West Des Moines.
  • You can purchase Cheer Box items from their Amazon Wish List that will be delivered directly to Amanda the Panda. 
  • You can host a donation drive through your workplace or community group. For more information on donations please contact Megan Mondt at [email protected].

Wrap Cheer Boxes – This year, Amanda the Panda will host a three day Cheer Box wrapping event. Monday, Nov. 25, Tuesday, Nov. 26, and Wednesday, Nov. 27. Amanda the Panda staff and volunteers will be wrapping Cheer Box gifts in Urbandale. Groups and individuals interested in volunteering their time to pack and wrap gifts for nearly 400 Cheer Boxes this season are asked to sign-up for a shift here. Please note: Registration is required to participate.

Deliver Cheer Boxes – EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program is also looking for volunteers to help deliver Cheer Boxes to families. Deliveries will take place the first week of December. For questions on volunteering to deliver Cheer Boxes, contact Megan Mondt at [email protected].

Cheer Box Nominations
EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program is currently accepting nominations for our Cheer Box program. If you know someone who lost a loved one this year, help make their holidays a little brighter by nominating them for a Cheer Box. Nominations are due Nov. 12.

First Christian Church in Adel

First Christian Church in Adel partners with Crisis Intervention & Advocacy to host a Giving Tree. A tree is decorated and displayed in their sanctuary with wish lists from families receiving services from Crisis Intervention & Advocacy. Individuals or families can select a wish list and purchase items from the list, wrap the gifts & returned to the church for delivery. 

holiday givingSaint Vincent dePaul

Saint Vincent dePaul is hosting Hope for the Holidays, providing food to families during Thanksgiving. Here are ways to help:

  • Provide a turkey for one family – $20
  • Feed a family of 4 for a week – $40
  • Provide a Thanksgiving Dinner for a family – $50

Saturday, November 23 – 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. – Produce will available for conference pick-up in their 6th Avenue Warehouse.
Saturday, November 23 – 12 p.m.- 2 p.m. – Baskets will be distributed for families who have signed up through Mission Services.
Monday, December 2 – Christmas Basket Requests Due. Please have all requests including numbers of families and individuals submitted to Mission Services.
Saturday, December 21 – 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. – Produce will be available for conference pick-up in our 6th Avenue Warehouse.
Saturday, December 21 – 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. – Baskets will be distributed for families signed up through Mission Services.

Saint Vincent dePaul in partnership with Toys for Tots is excited to bring back Operation Santa Claus! Operation Santa Claus provided 12,000 toys to over 3,000 kids who needed them most. Various sponsorship opportunities available to help.

  • Providing toys for one child in need: $20
  • Providing a family with Christmas Dinner: $50
  • Sponsor an entire family’s Christmas presents: $100
  • Sponsor an entire family’s Christmas (dinner and presents) $150
  • Lead sponsorship of Operation Santa Claus (Recognized through media, website, and social media): $5,000
  • Champion Sponsorship (Recognized on through media, website, social media, and enshrined in the SVdP Donor Wall of Fame): $10,000
  • Legacy Sponsor (Get the Operation Santa Claus distribution space named after you or your company): $50,000

To learn more about donating to or signing-up for Operation Santa Claus and Hope of the Holidays click here.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Des Moines is hosting Christmas Assistance sign-ups. If your family is in need of assistance this holiday season, come to the Boy Scouts Mid-Iowa Council (in-person only) at 6123 Scout Trail, Des Moines on Monday, November 4 – Friday, November 8 from 9 a.m.- 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 4:30 pm with a valid Photo ID for all adults in household, proof of residence (current piece of mail) and ID for children in household (medical card or birth certificate). See more information on their Facebook page.

Single Parent Provision

Single Parent Provision will host its 8th annual Single Parent Moms Christmas Dinner on December 14 as a way to say, “We see you!”.

Single mothers are treated to an elegant, uplifting evening with a catered dinner, an inspirational program, gifts and prizes, all while in the great company of other single moms throughout our community. While moms enjoy this extraordinary evening, their children enjoy a fun evening with games, crafts, activities, and a meal of their own with caring and encouraging volunteers. This event is free, but registration is required and closes Wednesday, December 4.

If you would like to learn more about this special evening, watch this short news segment WHO-TV did in 2018. Ways to help with the dinner include various levels of sponsorship, to learn more click here or to volunteer click here.

Urbandale Community Action Network

The Urbandale Community Action Network (UCAN) is a 501(c)3 citizen group providing leadership and ongoing support for comprehensive community-based action to improve the quality of life in Urbandale. UCAN works collaboratively with local government, churches, civic, and community organizations, not for profits, citizens and the business community to accomplish common goals and to help make a difference in the lives of Urbandale residents.

Winter Gear Drive: help a child in need of  coats, gloves, hats, boots, shoes, and snow pants. To sponsor a child, email UCAN.

UCAN Holiday Helping Hands Programs need sponsors for Adopt-A-Family, Santa for Seniors, and Adopt-A-Teen Program, for more information email UCAN.

If you are an Urbandale resident in need of holiday assistance, learn more here.

Walnut Creek YMCA

Walnut Creek YMCA hosts a Holiday Bazaar, featuring Santa and a silent auction during the holiday season which raises money for their annual campaign. These funds are utilized throughout the year to make their programs and services available to those who would otherwise be unable to participate. Immediately following Thanksgiving, a Giving Tree is put up in the building with lists detailing needs of their Supportive Housing Campus residents. Details of all giving opportunities will be posted on their Facebook page

Youth Emergency Shelter Services

Youth Emergency Shelter Services (YESS) is hosting an adopt-a-family program for families connected with their services. Donors can identify what size of family they can support and YESS will share a list of needs and wishes for each child. Due to confidentiality policies, donors are not able to give the gifts directly to the families but are asked to return the items to YESS by the deadline. YESS counselors will coordinate gift delivery with families. If you are interested in adopting a family or getting more information, call give back

Animal Rescue Organizations

In addition to people helping people, the Des Moines metro area is fortunate to have several wonderful animal rescue organizations including, but not limited to: AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & TransportAnimal Lifeline of Iowa, Animal Rescue League, Furry Friends Refuge, and Hope Animal Rescue who work year-round rescuing animals and giving them second chances. Most rescues host various supply drive and “adopt a shelter pet” programs during the holiday season. Often these donated supplies will help stock a rescue for months meaning more dollars to spend saving animals.

Did we miss your favorite holiday giving program? Tell us the details below!

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Stacie is an Iowa native, living in Urbandale with her tall, dark, and handsome husband, Kyle (May 2014). They share their home with the light of their life, their son, Calvin (August 2015) and his two doggie brothers. By day, Stacie is the Director of Development for Animal Lifeline of Iowa. By night, she’s a toddler chaser, Pinterest-recipe chef, Instant-Pot creator, thrift-shop find make-over artist, DIY project amateur who enjoys reading, hanging out with her guys, and an occasional girls’ night out.


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