Pay It Forward

By Desi Rubio, Nov. 20, 2014.

The holiday season is upon, and that means the hustle and bustle of the retail industry and the spirit of togetherness is, too.

For some community members this means culinary masterpieces and time spent surrounded by loved ones, but for others the festivities and merriment that accompany this time of year underscore an ever-present void or need.

The season of giving does not have to be limited to Black Friday shopping and white elephant gift exchanges. From meals and time to gifts and clothing, donations — big or small — are an important way to pay it forward.

Because need comes in many shapes and sizes within our diverse community, a wide variety of local organizations exist to address it. Whether you’re interested in volunteering your time or simply regifting that sweater from your in-laws, here are a few groups and organizations that will be inviting volunteers to unite and pay it forward in the coming weeks.

Affirmation Gratitude and Service Gathering, Nov. 22

As a part of the annual Affirmation Gratitude and Service Gathering, Phoenix-area LGBTQ Mormons, families, friends and guests will share in thankfulness and socializing by conducting a beautification project from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 22 at the Phoenix one n ten youth center (2700 N. Third St. #2011) as well as a local park. Following the community service, all are welcome join in on a Thanksgiving dinner from 4 to 7:30 p.m. — main dish provided with potluck sides — at William Barnhardt Art Studio (506 N. Center St., downtown Mesa).

For more information, email or To RSVP, visit Phoenix Area Affirmation Gratitude and Service Gathering on Facebook.

The Eighth Annual Super Saturday Turkey Drive, Nov. 22

As part of its yearly Super Saturday Turkey Drive, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance will be set up at various food bank locations as well as 15 Albertsons locations throughout the Valley, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., accepting nonperishable food donations in hopes of meeting what St. Mary’s is anticipating to be “an unprecedented need for the 2014 holiday season.” This is the largest annual event St. Mary’s hosts and last year’s donations totaled 100,000 holiday food boxes for families in need. All donors are invited to register for a chance to win one of two $500 US Airways cash value gift cards on the day of the event. For a list of locations where donations will be accepted, visit

Thanksgiving Food Box Delivery, Nov. 22 and 27

From the cost of one meal ($1.92) to volunteer opportunities, Phoenix Rescue Mission has many a variety of ways in which community members can help it reach its goal of providing 78,000 Thanksgiving meals. Volunteers are also welcome to assemble food boxes and deliver them to Valley families in need from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nov. 22. And, on Thanksgiving Day, volunteers are invited to put together sack meals for the mission’s community kitchen from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Volunteer are asked to fill out a volunteer application, contact the volunteer hotline at 602-346-3363 or email in advance. Visit for more information.

Rebel & Divine UCC’s Undie Drive

In support of Rebel & Divine UCC’s annual Christmas Day new shoe and underwear gift giveaway for LGBTQ at-risk and homeless youth and young adults, the community is invited to donate underwear, bras, binders and socks and shoes for youth ages 14 to 24 each Sunday night from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 917 E. Sheridan St. in Phoenix. Additionally, Kobalt is hosting its third annual Undie Run Nov. 28 and underwear donations can be dropped off at the bar (and used to decorate the tree). For more information, visit or look for the “3rd Annual Undie Run — Fundraiser For Homeless & At Risk LGBTQ Youth” event on Facebook.

#HashtagLunchbag, Nov. 23 and Dec. 28

On the fourth Sunday of every month The Change Society hosts #HashtagLunchbag — a movement dedicated to utilizing social media to bring awareness to and eliminate hunger in local communities — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sky Lounge (132 E Washington St.) in Phoenix. Together, volunteers prepare brown paper sack lunches for the homeless. Items such as sandwiches, fruit, toiletries and letters are placed in the bags and distributed to homeless youths and adults. For more in formation on donations or volunteering, visit

Community Fall Feast, Nov. 26

As a small way of say thank you to the community for all its support, one n ten is opening its doors to everyone of all ages for a festive celebration and fall feast — served by the Phoenix Storm rugby team — beginning at 5 p.m. at the Phoenix youth center (3660 N. Third St.). The following day (Thursday) the Phoenix youth center will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and everyone is invited for leftovers and movies. For more information about making donations to one n ten, call the admin office at 602-400-2601 or visit

The Third Annual Low Rider Car Show and Toy Drive, Dec. 7

This annual car show isn’t just about showcasing the latest low rider trends, it’s about uniting culture and charity. Event sponsors — Barrio Café, Mercer Mortuary, PHX Cab and Viejitos Car Club Arizona — are asking guests to bring new, unwrapped toys, which will be donated, to the Children’s Crisis Nursery just before Christmas. The gathering, which will include raffles, Mexican food and a DJ, will begin at 11 a.m. on 16th Street, south of Thomas Road in Phoenix, where low-riders will be stuffed with toys and cruise Calle 16. For more information, visit

The Third Annual Reindeer Hustle: Making Wishes Come True Fun Run & 5K, Dec. 13

For the third year, the Reindeer Hustle: Making Wishes Come True Fun Run & 5K is raising money for children during the holiday season. As participants register for the race, proceeds will benefit New Horizon Youth Homes, Inc. (NHYH), a nonprofit agency that specializes in a residential group home and outpatient clinic program, and be used to provide gifts to children in Phoenix. The race begins at 10 a.m. at Kiwanis Park in Tempe and fees range from $15 to $25 (prices go up Dec. 1). To register or to sponsor a youth, visit

Shoebox Ministries, through Dec. 14

This year the Community Church of Hope is supporting Shoebox Ministries with such donations as socks, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrushes and other personal hygiene items for distribution at one of the Valley’s homeless agencies or shelters. Donations are welcome at the Community Church of Hope (4121 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix) with or without a shoebox; however, empty shoeboxes are also a requested item. For more information, visit or

Winter Wonderland Gift Drive, Dec. 13 and 20

Phoenix Rescue Mission is hosting a Winter Wonderland Gift Drive and is welcoming all volunteers and donations needed. Donations of unwrapped toys as well as household and personal care items are due to the Phoenix Rescue Mission warehouse (1801 S. 35th Ave) by Dec. 13 and volunteers are needed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 20 as parents and children visit the warehouse to select and wrap gifts for each other.

Volunteer are asked to fill out a volunteer application, contact the volunteer hotline at 602-346-3363 or email in advance. Visit for more information.

Queermas: Adopt-A-Diva, through Dec. 21 and Dec. 25

At various locations throughout Phoenix, one n ten event organizers will post holiday trees, decorated with tags bearing gift requests for Valley youth, ages 14 to 24. Anyone interested in donating is welcomed to pull a tag and make a holiday wish come true by dropping gifts off at the Phoenix one n ten administration office (2700 N. Third St. #2011) by Dec. 21. For specific tree locations, visit

Additionally, one n ten invites community members of all ages to its annual Queermas party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Phoenix youth center (3660 N. Third St.) on Christmas Day. Food will be served and the youth will receive their gift donations. To volunteer at the Queermas party or for more information about making donations to one n ten, call the admin office at 602-400-2601 or visit

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