There are still opportunities to help kids this Christmas

Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 1:46pm

D-Day for Nashville charities has largely come and gone. The gears of local gift-giving operations are winding down, and it’s been a mixed batch this season.

Though the Salvation Army has garnered headlines for excluding children of illegal immigrants to participate in its Angel Tree program, organizations like Catholic Charities — probably the most prolific server of the Hispanic population in town — made the holidays bright for at least 1,200 of Nashville’s children and elderly through its Christmas Angel Tree program.

Despite a tough economy and the attendant tenuous market for jobs, director of Catholic Charities Bill Sinclair said the Christmas Angel Tree program saw more donors step forward this year — 100 more than last year, in fact. Sinclair notes that while most charitable toy drives are over, there are still options for both donors and those in need.

— The Nashville Rescue Mission feeds hungry men, women and children and offers Christian-based programs to help homeless get off the streets. The organization encourages gifts of food, clothes and donations to help those in need. Give online or by calling (615) 312-1532.

— The Davidson County Department of Children’s Services and the Matthew Walker Health Center are working to find last-minute sponsors for their annual Foster Child Christmas Program for 2009. Having new clothes and toys that belong to them, program officials note, “is a new experience for many children in foster care.”

The program is working to find sponsors for teens in particular. To help, call Rees Greenman at 332-4774.

 — The 61st Avenue United Methodist Church’s Last Minute Toy Store is one option. Starting Friday, the church on 6018 New York Ave. will be giving away toys through Dec. 21. No Social Security card is required — just a photo ID, the names and ages of the children (report cards work) and proof of need, whether it be food stamps, a TennCare card or a pay stub. Anything “half-way official” will work, said Pastor Paul Slentz.

Tickets for toys are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Lines form at 3 a.m. in the sanctuary and tickets are issued at 6:30 a.m. The store is open 12 to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Monday, and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday.

— The Middle Tennessee Hispanic Democrats and the Republican National Hispanic Assembly are reaching across the aisle along with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to provide South Nashville children with something to put beneath the Christmas pine.

Based on a plan developed on Sunday, these groups are organizing at the Grandview Church of Christ at 2605 Nolensville Pike from 4-7 p.m. Dec. 21 to bring gifts to 205 children they invited to gather around the hot chocolate and pan dulce.

According to Yuri Cunza at the Hispanic Chamber, they’re feeling ambitious. They want to do more, but they need donor help in order to provide gifts beyond the 205 selected children.

To learn how to support the toy drive, or if you’re having difficulty providing your child with a gift, call 216-5737.