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Many ways to give back in Forsyth County this holiday season

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Holiday season is a time to rake leaves, watch football and plan turkey dinners. And a time to give back.

Many children and families in Forsyth County remain in need of basic necessities and are unable to splurge on gifts, so an array of organizations and groups are asking for help in collecting items to improve the next few months for those people.

If you’re looking to give back to the community this holiday season — whether through money, donating items or delivering gifts, and whether that community is your own or across the world — here are some groups that need your help.

Home-delivered meals spread joy, nurishment

Meals are one of the best parts of the holiday season, and Forsyth County Senior Services wants to ensure that homebound seniors aren’t left out.

Senior services is looking for volunteers to participate in 2015 Home-Delivered Meals Holiday Gift Certificate Program, which will be delivered through Meals with Wheels.

Meals can be purchased though a certificate program, and those interested can give seniors a meal for one day for $3.68, a week for $18.40, a month for $80.96 or a whole year for $956.80.

The gifts may be tax-deductible, and all meals delivered from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day will have a special note from the meal provider to wish the senior a happy holidays.

Senior services is hoping to deliver 4,000 meals over the holiday season.

Checks will need to be made payable to Forsyth County Senior Services, Holiday Gift Certificate Program, and may be mailed or delivered to: 7305 Lanier Drive Cumming, GA 30041.

Contact: (770) 781-2178.

Group gathers shoeboxes filled with children’s gifts

A church in Cumming soon become a local drop-off point for a massive, worldwide Christmas project.

Operation Christmas Child will have a location at North Lanier Baptist Church, 829 Atlanta Road, from Nov. 16-23.

The local Samaritan’s Purse project is asking for shoeboxes packed with toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

“Through the simple act of filling a shoebox, someone in Cumming can make a tangible difference in the life of a child halfway around the world,” said Shellie Wishard, regional director. “Anyone can participate and bring joy to a child facing difficult circumstances.”

The drive will take place during National Collection Week, when the organization hopes to contribute more than 23,593 gift-filled shoeboxes to the 2015 global goal of reaching 11 million children in need.

Drop-off times at North Lanier Baptist Church are:

- Nov. 16-19: 9 a.m.-noon and 6 to 8 p.m.

- Nov. 20: 9 .am.-noon

- Nov. 21: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

- Nov. 22: 1 to 3 p.m.

- Nov. 23: 9 a.m.-noon

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham.

Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, the items inside the box are the first presents they have ever received.

Anyone can pack a personalized shoebox on their computer or mobile device by going to, where participants can also track their box to discover where in the world their gift is delivered.

Contact: (770) 777-9342.

Gift Angels program benefits local seniors

Forsyth County Senior Services is looking for residents interested in making the holidays special for a local senior by being part of the 2015 Holiday Gift Angels Program.

Those interested can pick up a gift tag with the name of a local senior with gift ideas at one of three senior services locations.

Tags can be found at the Center at Charles Place, 595 Dahlonega St., and Sexton Hall Enrichment Center, 2115 Chloe Road, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or at Hearthstone Lodge Community Center, 7305 Lanier Drive, from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Gifts need to be delivered unwrapped in a gift bag with the gift tag attached at any of those centers by Nov. 30.

Contact: (770) 781-2178.

Fire department holding toy drive

On Monday, the Forsyth County Fire Department will kick off its 13th annual Aerial’s House toy collection to make the holidays special for children in need.

New, unwrapped toys for any age may be dropped off Monday through Dec. 11 at any Forsyth County fire station, the department’s headquarters at 3520 Settingdown Road or any of the four local library branches.

“Forsyth County’s residents and businesses have generously supported our Aerial’s House toy collection over the years, and for that we are sincerely appreciative,” Fire Chief Danny Bowman said. “For the fire department personnel, it is an honor to be able to play a role in helping brighten the holidays for children in our community by providing the drop-off locations for toys.”

From Dec. 1-11, toys may also be dropped off under the Christmas tree in the lobby of the Forsyth County Administration Building, 110 East Main St., in downtown Cumming.

For information about the distribution of toys collected through this drive, call The Place of Forsyth County at (770) 887-1098.

For other questions or to make a large donation, call firefighter Jeff Lyons at (770) 781-2180, Ext. 4059.

Staff writer Kelly Whitmire contributed to this report.