Each Thanksgiving Day, The Southern Illinoisan continues its tradition of publishing this list of holiday charities, agencies and groups that provide a helping hand, some just at Christmas and others year around. They help feed the hungry, house the homeless and help those less fortunate. Each group depends on your kindness and generosity. So, consider volunteering your time and talents or sending a few dollars to help them help others and to keep their good works going this holiday season and year after year.

Regional

The Alternative Gift Fair in Carbondale gives participants the opportunity to make the community and the world a better place while choosing gifts that really matter. Plus, there will be live holiday music, refreshments, fair trade coffee and chocolate, opportunities for fun and learning while you shop, and a silent auction featuring local art and regionally made goods. This annual event is sponsored by Carbondale Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and friends and is set for Dec. 7 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Carbondale Civic Center.

Groups participating this year include The Diaper Bank of Southern Illinois, Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, Shawnee Group Sierra Club, Rainbow Café, Friends of the Cache, Church Women United, The Women’s Center, Good Samaritan Ministries, The Science Center of Southern Illinois, Keep Carbondale Beautiful, Friends of Giant City State Park, Green Earth, Friends of Crab Orchard NWR, Marion Medical Mission, Humane Society of Southern Illinois, Centerstone, Gaia House, For Kids’ Sake, Peace Coalition, Free Again, Habitat for Humanity, Heartwood Forest Council/Shawnee Sentinels, Fuller Future Festival and CUF Zambian AIDS Partnership.

Bring a food donation for Margie’s Basket, in memory of Margie Parker, who passionately worked for food security and justice in Southern Illinois.

For more information, call 618-534-1162 or send an email to maryinbantry@yahoo.com.

The Shawnee Detachment 812, Marine Corps League is collecting toys for its annual Toys for Tots toy collection through Dec. 17. Last year, 16.8 million toys were distributed to more than 7 million children nationally. Locally, the Shawnee Detachment distributed more than 9,000 toys to more than 3,200 children in a six-county area.

All toys and monetary donations collected by the Shawnee Detachment stay in Southern Illinois. For more information or to donate, call 618-985-6128.

Mentors 4 Kids is a grassroots youth mentoring organization in Southern Illinois.

The mission of Mentors 4 Kids, Inc. is to provide children in need with a caring, volunteer adult role model to befriend them and spend quality time with them during the holidays and all year around. The group serves youth ages 5 to 17 in Franklin, Gallatin, Jefferson, Saline, White and Williamson counties.

For more information, call 618-252-1012, send an email to mentors4kids@gmail.com or visit mentors4kids.org.

Crain Funeral Homes will be sending U.S. troops a little taste of home for the holidays by participating in the annual Veterans and Family Memorial Care Christmas Stockings for Soldiers Initiative.

From now through Dec. 1, free Christmas stockings may be picked up at any Crain Funeral Home location, taken home, decorated and stuffed. A list specifying recommended items for the stockings will be provided. The funeral home will then ship the stockings, at its expense, to troops abroad in time for Christmas.

The funeral homes also serve as an official drop-off center for Cell Phones for Soldiers. Old cellphones are needed to help soldiers call home this holiday season. Free minutes are provided to those soldiers receiving the phones.

Crain Funeral Homes are located at 135 W. Vienna St. in Anna, 31 Memorial Drive in Murphysboro and on Illinois 148, just north of Illinois 13, in Energy. For more information, call 866-592-7246.

The Night’s Shield Children’s Shelter is a private, non-profit organization that provides 24-hour emergency shelter for abused, neglected and/or abandoned children from across the state. The goal is to help reduce the current trauma these children are experiencing by providing them with support and nurturing.

The children are provided food, clothing, medical care, education and weekly activities. More than 1,000 children have been helped at the shelter since it opened in August 2009.

“We always provide a nice Thanksgiving and Christmas meal for the residents,” said Cindy McGee, executive director. “We depend on donations in order to provide various activities and outings for them during their school breaks, like going to see the Christmas lights.

“The residents like to decorate the shelter with Christmas projects, so we are always in need of paint and various craft materials. Many individuals and organizations donate gifts, but we can always use donations of money or gift cards (from Kroger, AMC Theatres, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Pirate Pete’s, Walmart and Dollar Tree), snack items (no nuts), laundry detergent, fabric sheets, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, scientific calculators, cough drops, canned goods, copy paper and office supplies (no pencils)."

For more information, call 618-932-6400.

The Women’s Center has provided safe shelter, counseling, advocacy, training and prevention education for more than 42 years. The center helps more than 1,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault each year, and, with the help of donations, The Women’s Center will once again provide holiday gifts to every person who has benefited from its programs this year.

As the holidays approach, the center is in need of gifts for children of all ages, as well as for men and women. Gift cards for restaurants, movies, groceries and department stores are always needed. Toys, electronics, clothing, gloves, scarves and hats, slippers, pajamas and pampering items, such as candles, jewelry or journals, are also great ideas.

In addition, the center itself has its own holiday wish list, including new cribs and mattresses; "Pack 'n Play" baby beds; 34-inch and 36-inch mini blinds; electric can openers; a microwave; bath towels and wash cloths; laundry hampers and laundry baskets; high chairs; a bagging, push lawn mower; a large-capacity, heavy-duty washing machine; and a defibrillator.

Donations of money and holiday gifts can be mailed or dropped off at 610 S. Thompson St., Carbondale. Also, The Women's Center could not function without the help of its many volunteers. To volunteer or for more information, call 618-549-4807.

Cairo Women’s Shelter provides temporary shelter for only women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The shelter also offers legal advocacy, group and individual counseling and referrals for residents in Alexander, Pulaski, Union and Massac counties.

The shelter is in need of donations throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season. Bring your donations, including food, supplies and gifts for women and children, to the shelter at 911 Cedar St. in Cairo. The shelter also needs volunteers year around.

For more information, call 618-734-4357.

Gum Drops is a non-profit organization that provides a weekend package of child-friendly food to more than 1,400 at-risk children in 36 schools and 12 school districts throughout Southern Illinois.

Food and cash donations are needed desperately to provide this essential service during the holiday season. (Ask about sponsoring a child for a year.) Food items needed include fruit cups, Ramen noodles, pudding packs, oatmeal, cheese and crackers, applesauce cups and popcorn.

Drop off your gifts at 1005 Briarwood in Carterville or mail your donations to Gum Drops, P.O. Box 228, Carterville, IL 62918. Volunteers are always needed to assemble food packages and other jobs at the facility.

For more information, call 618-985-9567.

Joyner Therapy Services, with clinics in Marion (2907 Williamson County Parkway), Harrisburg (924 S. Commercial St.) and Carmi (108 April Ave.), will again be collecting toys for Lutheran Social Services of Illinois through Dec. 15. This is the seventh year the therapy staff has participated in the toy drive.

Lutheran Social Services of Illinois provides supportive services for children in need and their families. It is the largest statewide social service provider in Illinois, providing more than 190 programs at 85 program sites across Illinois and serving nearly 100,000 people.

Donate new, unwrapped toys by putting them in the collection barrel at any of the three clinics. For more information, call Emily or Lana at the Marion clinic at 618-998-9894.

For more information about Lutheran Social Services, call 847-635-4600 or visit lssi.org.

Second Nature Wildlife Rehabilitation is a non-profit wildlife center that cares for all wild animals that have been orphaned, injured, ill or abandoned, giving them food, shelter, medical care and enrichment that allows them to develop the necessary skills to be successfully returned to the wild. Second Nature also provides educational programs for the public, and helps to resolve any wildlife conflicts with the public.

“Adopting an animal makes a great and unusual holiday gift,” said Director Pam Sundeen.

Second Nature is 100 percent funded by donations and run by volunteers. Monetary donations may be made to Second Nature Wildlife, P.O. Box 112, Thompsonville IL 62890. Items that are needed are on a wish list on the Second Nature Website, secondnaturewildlife.org.

To adopt an animal or for more information, call 618-627-2000.

Pets Are Worth Saving, Inc. (PAWS) is a not-for-profit animal welfare organization dedicated to rescuing unwanted and homeless, sometimes neglected and abused, dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and, occasionally, horses in Southern Illinois and finding them good homes. It operates PAWS Place Adoption Center, a no-kill facility at 139 E. Vienna St. in Anna.

The organization is 100 percent funded by donations and fundraising efforts and events, including PAWS 2nd Chance Resale shop on the corner of Vienna and Springfield avenues in Anna, where customers can buy high-quality donated items, including clothing, furniture, housewares, jewelry and seasonal decorations. The shop is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

PAWS also has a Tree of Lives, a Christmas tree decorated with pictures of its current adoptable animals. Visitors can chose a picture and sponsor an animal through the holiday season.

To make a donation, volunteer or just for more information, call 618-833-DOGS (3647), or visit pawspaws.org or PAWS Facebook page.

Crittergal Rescue is an established 501c3 non-profit animal rescue effort in Southern Illinois that has been doing everything it could since 2006 to change the fates of as many stray, neglected, abused or abandoned dogs and cats as possible. Crittergal Rescue does not have a shelter, but assists animals through rescue, spay, neuter, transport and placement efforts. Crittergal Rescue also provides free transport service and sponsors spay and neuters for as many disadvantaged pet owners as possible.

Call Crittergal Rescue at 618-985-3833, send an email to crittergal55@yahoo.com or visit https://facebook.com/Crittergal55 to find out how to donate, volunteer or sponsor an animal for the holidays or place a bid on an item in Crittergal’s holiday auction.

The Humane Society of Southern Illinois has served the Southern Illinois community since 1956 as a private, non-profit organization that takes in approximately 4,000 animals annually and depends on donations to help keep the shelter open.

The facility, located between Carbondale and Murphysboro, offers a variety of services to the public, including a low-cost spay and neuter program, and lost-and-found listings.

Donations and volunteers are always needed. The shelter invites supporters to adopt a kennel of their choice in the cat or dog room for a period of three, six or 12 months or sponsor an animal as a holiday gift for that special animal lover on your gift list.

For more information, call 618-457-2362 or visit humanesocietysil.org.

Tri-State Alliance AIDS Holiday Project is continually working to meet the needs of more than 375 low-income households affected by HIV or AIDS throughout the tri-state region in 36 counties in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

Donations can be made online at AIDSHolidayProject.org or sent by mail to TSA Holiday Project, P.O. Box 2901, Evansville, IN 47728. For more information or to volunteer, call 812-480-0204 or send an email to wallypaynter@aol.com.

Caritas Family Solutions is a licensed child welfare and family service agency meeting the social and emotional needs of persons of all backgrounds throughout Southern Illinois.

Help a foster child have a merrier Christmas through Caritas’ Secret Santa Program. You can purchase the gifts (at least $100 per child) or make a financial donation toward the purchase of those gifts.

To donate, volunteer or just for more information, call the Herrin office at 618-985-2000, ext. 241, send an email to Jennifer.davidson@caritasfamily.org or visit cssil.org/index.html.

Christmas with Heartland is a non-profit local group organized to help families in need that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Get involved by visiting facebook.com/christmaswheartland and making a donation for kids not yet sponsored.

The Hope Team from Love and Truth Church in Crainville has started an Angel Tree program to provide presents for local children whose parents are in prison. Dec. 7 is the deadline to bring presents to the church at 1201 Marion St. Gifts are still needed for all of the children, as well as volunteers to wrap and distribute presents.

For more information, call 618-985-6239 or visit loveandtruthchurch.com/crainville.

Alexander County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry, every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact Cairo Food Pantry at 909 Washington St. by calling 618-734-0178 or Happy Helpers Food Pantry at 430 Third St. in Tamms by calling 618-747-2123.

Magnolia Manor, 2700 Washington Ave., in Cairo will hold its 58th annual Holiday House Tours beginning Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 5. Tours of the historic mansion in all its holiday glory will be conducted from 1 to 4 p.m. daily. Proceeds will be used for the upkeep of the manor.

There also are still dates available to attend the Holiday House Luncheons from 11:30 to 1 p.m., starting Dec. 1 and running through Dec. 5 at the mansion. Proceeds of the luncheons are also used to preserve the historic structure. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Magnolia Manor at 618-734-0201. Tickets cost $22 and cover the cost of the luncheon and tour.

Franklin County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry, every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact Benton Township Food Pantry at 1001 E. Main St. by calling 618-439-3181 or Benton-West City Food Pantry at 320 S. Main St. in Benton by calling 618-927-6270 or Ministry for the Broken Hearted Food Pantry at 103 W. Market in Christopher by calling 618-927-0202 or Grace Baptist Church Food Pantry at 202 E. Oak in West Frankfort by calling 618-932-2140 or Crosswalk CAA Food Pantry at 410 W. Main St. in West Frankfort by calling 618-937-3581.

Jackson County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact Shalom Cooperative Parish Food Pantry at 610 Front St. in Grand Tower by calling 618-565-2227 or Murphysboro Youth and Rec Center Food Pantry at 1818 W. Walnut St. by calling 618-684-8243 or Matthew 25 Food Pantry at 1461 N. County Line Road in Carbondale by calling 618-457-6634.

Iota Phi Theta Fraternity and Lambda Omega Alumni Chapter are holding their annual Christmas Food Drive Musical on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m. at New Zion Baptist Church, 803 N. Robert A. Stalls Ave., in Carbondale. The musical will feature Master of Ceremony Pastor Darryl Cox with special guest Pastor Larry Barnett and First Lady Carol Barnett from St. John’s Praise and Worship Center in Pulaski.

Local guest will include Pastor Stevie Robinson of Zion Temple, New Zion Chapel Choir, New Zion Praise Team and Carbondale Community Choir.

Audience members are asked to bring canned goods and other non-perishable items.

For more information, call 618-203-4888 or 618-534-0023.

Murphysboro Food Pantry took a leap of faith this year, providing vouchers that allowed 900 local families in need to have a turkey on their holiday table. The cost of the program is $14,550, but the pantry needs another $7,852 to pay the bill. So, after you’ve finished your Thanksgiving meal, pay it forward by donating a few dollars to families less fortunate than yours.

Send your donations to Murphysboro Food Pantry, P.O. Box 671, Murphysboro, IL 62966, and mark them “Turkey Challenge.”

The pantry is located at 906 N. 14th St. and is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. For more information, call 618-684-8258 or send an email to murphysborofoodpantry@gmail.com.

Feed My Sheep is a community kitchen at Bethel AME Church, 316 E. Jackson St., in Carbondale. Lunch is served daily on site and through deliveries, between 80 and 100 meals daily, starting at noon Monday through Friday. Donations are welcomed, but anyone in need of a meal is served.

Donations and volunteers are needed to keep the kitchen running and to deliver the meals, but never more so than during the holidays.

Donations can be mailed to Bethel AME Church, 316 E. Jackson St., Carbondale, IL 62901. Those interested in volunteering can call the church at 618-529-5278. For more information, visit http://www.bethelame62901.org/feed-my-sheep.html.

Shop With a Cop is a program sponsored by Jackson County Sheriff’s Department for children from throughout the county. The program’s goal is to provide at least 75 children -- referred by schools, churches and officers -- with $75 each in gifts.

The children meet with volunteer officers in mid-December to go shopping and choose their gifts, and the officers ensure that the kids receive both clothing and toys.

Donations help keep the program going. Checks for tax-deductible donations should be made payable to Jackson County Shop With a Cop and mailed to P.O. Box 77, Murphysboro, IL 62966.

Spirit of Love/Operation 350 Food and Gift Drive is a project of Victory Dream Center, 607 E. College St., in Carbondale. Through this program, the church hopes to distribute more than 16,000 pounds of food and more than 1,000 toys and other gifts. Operation 350 will provide large boxes of food and gifts for 350 families, and an additional 100 food boxes given away subsequently as families with needs are made known to the church throughout December and January.

Individuals and organizations are invited to make tax-deductible donations or to contribute toys and other gifts for children and teens. Checks may be made out to VDC (Victory Dream Center) and mailed to P.O. Box 460, Carbondale, IL 62903 or dropped off at the church between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Toys also may be dropped off at the church.

More than 1,000 gifts are needed for children through age 17. There is a special need for toys for children ages 2 through 4. Suggested items are games, stuffed animals, blocks, dolls, tea sets, trucks and cars, puzzles, tool sets, art supplies, balls, jewelry, keyboards and other musical toys. For teens, suggested gifts include bath products, wallets, purses, journals, diaries and athletic equipment, including basketballs and footballs.

Those donating toys that need batteries are requested to include the batteries and tape them to the box. Candles are not recommended because of the risk of fire.

Gifts should not be wrapped because participants will be choosing the gifts for their children. Community members are invited to volunteer to help pack boxes. For more information, call Nathan Cherry at the church at 618-351-8018 or 618-525-2025.

Good Samaritan Ministries is a tax-exempt organization, established in 1985 by Carbondale Interfaith Council, to provide services to those in need in the Carbondale area. Good Samaritan provides an emergency shelter, a transitional housing program, a soup kitchen, a food pantry and an emergency assistance program out of facilities at 701 S. Marion St. in Carbondale.

Good Samaritan is collecting toys, coats, gloves and infant carriers and rockers for children; long johns -- tops and bottoms -- as well as hats, scarves, gloves, socks, men’s coats, razors, shaving cream and hand towels, twin-size sheets and pillow cases, pillows, backpacks or bags and shoes of all sizes (especially boots for winter) for adults; and tarps, backpacks, hand-warmers and sleeping bags for the homeless.

Cots are also needed during the cold months to provide beds for those who might otherwise be out in the elements. The shelter rooms need dressers and twin-size mattresses.

For its soup kitchen and food pantry during the holidays, Good Samaritan needs turkeys, hams, coffee, canned pumpkin, potato sides, stuffing, canned gravy, cereal, meat, jelly and any kind of breakfast items.

Donations are always welcome and appreciated, as are volunteers, said Patty Mullen, assistant director. Checks can be mailed to Good Samaritan Ministries, 701 S. Marion St., Carbondale, IL 62901. For more information, call 618-457-5794 or 618-457-0323 for the food pantry or visit goodsamcarbondale.org.

Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale at 250 N. Springer St. serves children ages 6 to 18 years old by providing a curriculum of entertaining activities during after-school hours. The club offers programs in five core areas: Character & Leadership Development; Education & Career Development; Health & Life Skills; The Arts; and Sports, Fitness and Recreation. BGCC works to generate, enhance and reinforce academic, social and character education in collaboration with schools, community groups and families.

The club is planning a Breakfast with Santa on Dec. 20 from 9 to 11 a.m. and needs volunteers as well as breakfast food and gifts. Last year, the club served almost 100 people at this event. Gifts will be distributed to children ages 3 through 18.

The club is also collecting blankets, gloves and hats through Dec. 17 to be donated to Good Samaritan Ministries.

The club can always use office supplies, cleaning supplies, healthy snacks, art supplies, facial tissue, trash bags, paper plates, plastic forks, napkins, duct tape, packing tape, plastic bins, 20x20 furnace filters, ice, rechargeable batteries and cups.

Donations and volunteers are always needed to continue helping the children at the club. Donations support staffing and program operations. Checks can be made out to Boys & Girls Club of Carbondale and sent to P.O. Box 3092, Carbondale, IL 62902. For more information, call 618-457-8877, ext. 23, send an email to tcarpenter@bgc-cdale.org or visit bgc-cdale.org.

The I Can Read Program offered in Eurma Hayes Center, 441 E. Willow St., in Carbondale is an after-school reading program available to Carbondale elementary school students every school day except Friday. It was designed to enhance students' reading skills by providing one-on-one reading opportunities for students who struggle with reading and comprehension, while providing a safe and pleasant place for children to learn.

The program provides thousands of books, so donations of books are always needed. It also offers healthy snacks for the children. So, the program always needs more peanut butter, crackers, milk and cereal. Volunteers help make the program possible, spending one to four days a week helping out and reading to the children.

“Holiday programs are being planned for the children, but help is needed to make them truly successful,” said Margaret Nesbitt, director of the program.

Donations can be mailed to I Can Read, 216 E. James and Thelma Walker Ave., Carbondale, IL 62901. For more information, call 618-559-5004.

The Gaia House, 913 S. Illinois Ave., in Carbondale is an SIU registered student organization that provides regularly scheduled programs and special events in support of spiritual development, social justice and ecological sustainability. It’s a gathering place where students and community members can develop a spiritual awareness.

The Gaia House will host its annual holiday celebration (called Christmahanukwanzaban) on Dec. 5 with live music, and organizers are asking for help to make this year’s celebration a special one. Donations of paper towels, toilet paper, copy paper and cleaning supplies would be especially helpful, as would financial donations and volunteers.

For more information, call 618-549-7387 or visit ourgaiahouse.org.

De Soto Christmas Baskets is a project of the churches of De Soto and the De Soto Branch of Old National Bank with a goal of providing a happier holiday for those less fortunate. Items that are needed include toys, non-perishable food items, children’s mittens, gloves, scarves, hats, cash gifts to purchase meat, fruit and other perishable items, and cardboard boxes of medium sizes, wrapped in Christmas paper.

A special tree at the bank, 102 N. Chestnut St., set up on Nov. 28, will have numbered tags, each representing a child. People are invited to purchase a gift for that child for about $20, wrap the gift and return it, with the original numbered tag attached, to the bank by Dec. 12.

Other donated items can be dropped off at any De Soto church or the bank by Dec. 12 to be included in the baskets. Also needed are cookies and candy, including some diabetic cookies and candy, to include in the food boxes. There will also be a bank account set up at De Soto Old National Bank for cash donations.

Volunteers are also needed to sort food donations and put the baskets and boxes together to distribute on Dec. 16. For more information, call 618-867-3341.

De Soto Aglow Community Lighthouse will show the movie, “The Heart of Christmas,” on Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. at De Soto Village Hall, 200 W. Lincoln. Christmas treats and popcorn will be served during the movie. If weather permits, there may also be Christmas caroling.

Volunteers will be collecting donations of children’s gloves, hats and scarves for the De Soto Christmas Baskets charity drive. Monetary donations will also be welcome.

For more information, call 618-549-7027.

Murphysboro High School Key Club is sponsoring its annual Share the Spirit Toy, Coat and Food Drive with deliveries made directly to Murphysboro families on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Requests must be submitted to the Key Club at 28 Candy Lane, Murphysboro, IL 62966 by Dec. 6, and must include the names of parents and children, along with genders, ages, addresses and phone numbers, and coat sizes, if requested. No names will be taken by phone.

Those who wish to contribute new or like-new toys, food, like-new children’s coats and wrapping paper may drop them off at the following Murphysboro locations: Super Walmart, Rural King, Sallie Logan Library, Kroger, Elks Lodge, St. Andrews Grade School, Farm Fresh and Walgreens. Look for decorated collection boxes marked Key Club to be sure the items stay in the community. Boxes will be pulled on Dec. 9. Donations may be mailed to Murphysboro Key Club, 28 Candy Lane, Murphysboro, IL 62966.

Last year, about 500 food boxes, 8,000 wrapped toys and 200 coats were distributed, including $12,000 worth of food purchased by the club.

For more information, call 618-534-3818.

Festival of Trees, part of Murphysboro Hometown Christmas, raises funds annually for dozens of local charities. Individuals, businesses and organizations will display and auction holiday greenery for their favorite charities. A silent auction began at John A. Logan Museum, 1613 Edith St., on Nov. 20 and will continue through Dec. 9.

Murphysboro goes all out for this festival, so don’t miss any of the special events. They include a gingerbread house contest at Murphysboro Youth & Recreation Center, 1818 Walnut St.; an “Old Timey Christmas” concert by Smoky Hollow String Band on Dec. 15 at the museum; a craft show at Murphysboro Youth & Recreation Center on Dec. 8; a Christmas bazaar at Murphysboro Christian Academy on Dec. 8; an art exhibit at Hughes Gallery, 1603 Edith St., on Dec. 8, 9 and 15; children’s activities and a movie at Liberty Theater on Dec. 8; and a nativity celebration and exhibit from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2.

For more information on Murphysboro Hometown Christmas and Festival of Trees, call 618-521-2085 or visit visitmurphysboro.com /hometown-christmas.php. For more information on the Old Timey Christmas concert, call 618-684-4397. For more information on the Christmas bazaar, call 618-684-5083. For more information on the nativity celebration, visit ChristmasNativityExhibit.com.

Become an Angel of St. Francis by donating monthly to St. Francis Care, a no-kill animal shelter at 6228 Country Club Road in Murphysboro. Help shelter and care for unwanted animals, place animals in safe and permanent homes, educate the community on animal care and welfare, reduce pet overpopulation through low-cost spay and neuter services and provide veterinary care to low-income families through your donation.

If you can’t commit to a monthly donation, you can help by bringing needed items to the shelter when you can, including paper towels, bleach, laundry detergent, trash bags and dog and cat toys. If you can’t donate items, consider donating your time as a volunteer.

For more information, call 618-687-2079 or visit Stfrancis-care.org.

Jefferson County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry, every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact Park Avenue Baptist Church Food Pantry at 1100 Partridge Place in Mount Vernon by calling 618-242-5068 or His Hands Ministry Food Pantry at 1611 S. 10th in Mount Vernon by calling 618-316-0531.

Lifeboat Alliance in Mount Vernon helps the homeless weather life’s storms, providing shelter, meals, transportation, personal hygiene products and more to as many as 64 people at any given time. But none of these efforts are possible with private donations.

Financial support is especially important during the holiday season. Help the helpless this Christmas by donating to Lifeboat Alliance. For more information, call 618-244-4088 or visit lifeboatalliance.org.

United Methodist Children’s Home at 2023 Richview Road in Mount Vernon needs your help to make the holidays a little bit brighter for the people UMCH serves in its many programs.

The home offers a residential treatment program and a transitional living program for youth, progressive special education services, a foster care program, a Best Beginnings program that pairs pregnant women and infants with nurses, a Bright Start child and family education center, community counseling, an autism resource room and a Helping Hands Home Improvement program.

Volunteers are needed, as are monetary donations, to help the home keep up its good work, but never more than during the holidays, when additional services are offered.

To volunteer or donate or for more information, call 618-242-1070 or visit umchome.org.

Perry County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry, every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact Western Egyptian EOC Du Quoin Food Pantry at 310 E. South St. by calling 618-542-4656 or Du Quoin Food Pantry at 121 N. Hickory by calling 618-571-2527 or Least of the Brethren Food Pantry at 1100 Kennedy Drive in Pinckneyville by calling 618-357-9530.

Clothes for Kids has provided clothing and shoes for children in need in Perry County schools for more than a decade. The effort, which for years was privately funded by John R. Alongi Sr., now accepts assistance from the community to ensure children have warm clothing, shoes and other necessities.

Currently, an estimated 1,300 students are being served. Volunteer teachers in the schools identify the needs and make sure the items are purchased and given to the children's families. Because Clothes for Kids has no salaried employees, all donated funds are used to provide for the children.

Donations may be sent to Clothes for Kids, P.O. Box 344, Du Quoin, IL 62832. For more information, contact Alongi at 618-534-2614.

The Du Quoin Jaycees sponsors the annual Christmas Toys for Kids program, providing about 300 children in Perry County with toys for Christmas.

Toys can be dropped off through Dec. 19 at Du Quoin Evening Call, Du Quoin Fire Department and Plaza Tire, Dollar General, Ace Hardware and Main Street Consignment Shop, all in Du Quoin.

For more information, call 618-318-1629 or 618-790-4027.

Perry County Humane Society in Du Quoin is a non-profit, no-kill animal rescue organization dedicated to promoting and providing humane care and treatment of domestic animals. The society depends on donations and volunteers to continue its good work.

On Dec. 6, supporters can help the humane society by bringing their furry family members to a special event, Pets With Santa, at Du Quoin Youth Club on Oak St. For $5, visitors can get a photo of their pet with Santa, with all of the funds going to help the shelter.

Of course there are always a few items that the humane society needs on a daily basis, including bleach, dish soap, trash bags (13 and 30 gallon), all-purpose cleaner, liquid laundry detergent, brooms, mops, buckets, peroxide, rubber and latex gloves, copy paper, toilet paper, Rubbermaid containers, towels, blankets, light bulbs, dry dog food, dog treats and rawhides, cat treats, stainless steel bowls, pet collars, leashes, kitty litter, dog and cat toys, pet carriers and crates, Frontline and heartworm preventative.

Volunteers are always needed to work at the shelter and to help with fundraising. Monetary donations can be sent to the Perry County Humane Society, 8365 Illinois Route 14, Du Quoin, IL 62832 or brought to the shelter.

For more information, call 618-542-3647, send an email to pchsinfo@yahoo.com or visit perrycountyhumanesocietyill.com.

Pets With Santa is an annual event sponsored by The Lodge of the Four Paws in Pinckneyville for more than 25 years to benefit not-for-profit groups. This year, all proceeds will benefit This Able Veteran, a group that provides service dogs, free of charge, to veterans with disabilities.

Pets With Santa will offer owners a chance to get a photo of their pet with Santa for a donation of $5. All funds will go directly to This Able Veteran.

This year’s event will take place on Dec. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Lodge of the Four Paws, one mile south of the Pinckneyville city pool, at 2942 Fairgrounds Road.

For more information, call Jill at 618-357-8627 or send an email to lodgeofthefourpaws@hotmail.com.

Randolph County

Hospitality House of Chester, 120 Ferry St., offers low-cost lodging to families and friends visiting inmates at Menard Correctional institutions, Chester Mental Health facilities and Pinckneyville Correctional Center. It is run solely on donations from guests, individuals, organizations and churches, and grants.

Imagine not being able to spend the holidays with your loved ones. For the families and friends of these inmates, the Hospitality House may make all the difference when it comes to having any kind of family Christmas.

At Christmas, Hospitality House Director Sheryl Woolley and guests will prepare a meal to share. Christmas gifts for children will be provided by the children of the Parrish School of Religion in Ava, Raddle and Willisville. Pastor Leo Hayes will deliver these wrapped gifts to the Hospitality House on Dec. 21. Children visiting the prison during this Christmas season are usually surprised and touched by these gifts.

To donate or for more information, call 618-826-9810, send an email to hospitalityhousechester@gmail.com or visit hospitalityhouse.yolasite.com.

Coulterville Holiday Association is an organization committed to providing clothing, toys and school supplies to families and children in need. Each year during the holiday season, the association sponsors a light and figurine display in Coulterville City Park and in downtown Coulterville. There are more than 1 million lights, more than 400 wooden Christmas figurines and 15 animated displays. The display is open nightly from Nov. 29 through Dec. 30 with free refreshments and activities and holiday music every Friday and Saturday in December from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 21, from 1 to 3 p.m.

The lighting ceremony will be on Nov. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the city park. There will be a bonfire and free hot chocolate and a visit from Santa and Company. Children can watch “Frozen” at Frost’s Theater and enjoy crafts and treats.

The association sponsors events throughout the year, culminating in its holiday light display and annual toy drive that serves more than 100 children in the area.

Volunteers and donations are always needed to continue to help those less fortunate. New and nearly-new toys can be dropped off at Coulterville Dairy Queen, 304 W. Grant. Donations of school supplies and clothes are always appreciated and put to good use.

For more information, call 618-525-9182 or 618-443-8747 or send an email to scottrust@yahoo.com. Monetary donations can be sent to Coulterville Holiday Association, P.O. Box 273, Coulterville, IL 62237.

Saline County

Fowler Bonan Foundation "Clothes for Kids" program provides new clothing and shoes to scores of underprivileged children during the holiday season.

"The need for warm clothing for Southern Illinois schoolchildren is never greater than what is it right now," said foundation chairman and co-founder Dale Fowler.

Fully one-half of the 416 children assisted last year by the foundation received delivery of their new clothing during the holiday season, according to Fowler. The foundation spends approximately $100 per child on clothes, underwear and warm coats. A donation of $100 would therefore provide a complete wardrobe for a child in need.

Referrals to the foundation originate from school officials in most Southern Illinois counties. Donors may specify a particular school, community or county to which their assistance will be targeted.

Donations can be mailed to Fowler Bonan Foundation, P.O. Box 848, Harrisburg, IL 62946. For more information, call 618-231-3904, send an email to FowlerBonanFoundation@gmail.com or visit fowlerbonanfoundation.com.

Union County

Two Rivers Child Advocacy Center in Anna has provided services for abused children in Southern Illinois since 2001.

“We have a few families that have needs for the holidays, gifts for children, clothes and food for Christmas dinner,” said Kendra Eads, executive director. “I would encourage people to call and adopt a family for Christmas. They should ask for me or our child advocacy coordinator, Angela Chambers. If they want to send a donation and want it to be used to help families at Christmas, they should simply note that on their check or enclose a note, and we will make sure that is what it is used for."

Mail donations to Two Rivers, 109 Denny Drive, Anna, IL 62906 or drop it off at the center. The center is always in need of juice boxes; individually wrapped snacks; new, small toys or stuffed animals; copy paper and paper towels. Two Rivers is always looking for volunteers over the age of 18 to help serve children at the center. To volunteer or for more information, call 618-833-7470.

Bethany Village at 414 Davie St. in Anna is a family crisis center that offers emergency housing for women and children, as well as a food pantry and thrift store. Bethany Village serves an average of 600 people per month at the pantry and maintains 20 apartments for those in transition. An average of 36 homeless women and children are at the shelter at any time.

Its annual holiday fundraiser will be at Boars of Fire, between Anna and Cobden, off of Old Illinois 51, on Dec. 14 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Wally King, supervising director of Bethany Village, invites everyone to “enjoy a good meal for a good cause.” The event will include a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets cost $25 and are available at the Bethany Bazaar in the village or at the door at Boars of Fire.

Donations can be sent to Bethany Village, 414 E. Davie St., Anna, IL 62906. Donations of food, clothing and furniture are always welcome, King said.

For more information call 618-833-1777.

White County

Baptist Children’s Home, 949 County Road, 1300 North, in Carmi needs your help to make Christmas merry for the children in it care.

The home is a private, non-profit agency operating in affiliation with the Illinois Baptist State Association, serving children and families without regard to race, gender, religious preference or a client’s ability to pay. The Carmi facility provides residential care for children, ages 8 to 18, who are experiencing emotional or behavioral difficulties, as well as children who have been victimized by abuse, neglect or abandonment.

For more information, call 618-382-4164 or visit bchfs.com.

The Guardian Center, 1124 Oak St., in Carmi is a not-for-profit child advocacy center providing confidential services to children and families affected by sexual and severe physical abuse in Edwards, Gallatin, Saline, Wabash, and White counties.

The center is hosting a holiday fundraiser, a ladies and girls luncheon called Visions of Sugar Plums, on Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. at Bonan Business Center in Carmi. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for children. A table for eight costs $200. The event includes lunch, a fashion show, a silent auction and an American Girl auction.

The Guardian Center is also hosting an open house on Dec. 11 at its facility at 1124 Oak St. from 5 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be available.

For more information, call 618-382-8247 or visit theguardiancenter.org, where you’ll find a list of supplies that the center needs for its operation and for the children and families it serves. Tickets to the holiday fundraiser can be purchased online at the center’s website.

Williamson County

Food pantries will make it possible for your neighbors to have something to eat when they’re hungry, every day, including the holidays. For more information on donations, contact First United Methodist church Food Pantry at 400 W. Broadway in Johnston City by calling 618-983-5150 or Shepherd’s Closet Food Pantry at 704 W. Boyton in Marion by calling 618-993-8694 or Salvation Army Food Pantry at 906 Tower Square in Marion by calling 800-993-5854 or Marion Ministerial Alliance Food Pantry at 103 E. Calvert by calling 618-993-8419 or Cambria Food Bank at 302 S. Richart by calling 618-985-6409.

J.C. Manna Mission operates a thrift store and food pantry at 306 E. Broadway Blvd. in Johnston City. The food pantry is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and serves Johnston City School District residents only. Participants must provide identification and proof of residency. The thrift store is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The mission also provides an Angel Tree gift program for children every year. Applications are available at the mission or at the schools.

To donate money or gifts, to volunteer to help or for more information, call 618-983-6262.

Join the Holiday Hunt on Dec. 12, 13 and 14 -- three days, nine stores and gifts galore -- as part of a Southern Illinois shopping adventure that benefits Williamson County Child Advocacy Center in Herrin to aid the organization in its holiday gift giving for children in need.

Purchase a Christmas tree entry form for $5 from any of the participating stores: Pickers Outlet Mall and Old School Antique Mall in Johnston City; Rabbit Patch Cottage, Peddler’s Cart and Isaac’s Rusty Wagon in Herrin and Energy; Rosebud Antique Mall, Mello Antiques and Scavenger Hunt in Carterville; and Golden Goodies in Cambria.

Each store will stamp the form when shoppers visit during the Holiday Hunt days. Shoppers who visit all nine stores can submit their entry forms at any participating business to be eligible for a drawing. All of the stores are donating a $50 gift certificate, and the drawing for each will be conducted at the close of the event.

Refreshments, special decorations, store specials and other raffles will be a part of the holiday cheer and fun.

Williamson County Advocacy Center, 501 S. 14th St., in Herrin serves any child under the age of 18 in Williamson or Franklin counties who reports being sexually or seriously physically abused.

For more information, call the center at 618-942-3800 or any one of the participating businesses. For more information about the center, visit wcocac.org or send an email to advocate@wcocac.org.

Family Home Health Care Supplies & Equipment of Herrin will conduct its 23rd annual toy drive for children 12 and younger. The drive, established in 1992 as a community service project of the locally owned and operated business, has for the last four years partnered with Herrin Rotary Club to provide for deserving children in Williamson County and the surrounding area.

Names, ages and addresses of children in need may be mailed to FHHC Toy Drive, P.O. Box 668, Herrin IL 62948, and must be received no later than Dec. 10.

First Christian Church on South Park Avenue in Herrin will coordinate refreshments and distribution of gifts.

Persons who wish to donate toys or monetary gifts to assist with the effort may bring them or send them to Family Home Health Care at 104 N. 14th St. in downtown Herrin.

For more information, call Family Home Health Care Supplies & Equipment at 618-942-4807.

Johnston City Ministerial Alliance will sponsor a food giveaway on Dec. 20 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 400 W. Broadway, in Johnston City. Boxes of food, including perishable items such as meat, milk and eggs, as well as canned goods and non-perishable items, will be available to residents of Johnston City and those who reside within Johnston City school district.

To receive food, recipients must register in person at the church no later than Dec. 12. Registration hours are from 10 to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12. Johnston City High School Student Council will provide delivery within the city limits for those unable to pick up the food themselves.

Johnston City High School and Washington Middle School are collecting canned goods in support of this effort. Local churches are providing non-perishable items, and local businesses have donated funds to purchase fresh food items. Additional donations would be appreciated.

For more information, call the Rev. Lee Petty at 618-983-6474.

Christmas always arrives early at Marion Salvation Army, 906 Tower Square Plaza. Angel Trees are up at Five Points Mall and TJ Max, but if you don’t have time to get there, you can get your angel over the phone by calling 765-664-6536.

Sign up to ring a bell online at RegistertoRing.com and chose your date, time and location to collect donations.

There are many other ways to help, including one-time or monthly financial gifts; memorial gifts; donating clothing, furniture and/or household items; donating mutual funds or stock securities; bequests or gift annuities; charitable trusts or pooled income funds; life insurance or hometown endowments; donations of airline miles; vehicle donations; volunteering; getting involved in Community Care Ministries; becoming a service leader; or becoming an advisory board member.

To donate, volunteer or for more information, call 618-993-5854, send an email to Pierce@usc.salvationarmy.org or visit facebook.com/SalArmyMarion.

-- Compiled by Chanda Green

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