ITHACA, NY – These organizations and events could use your help to make the holidays a bit brighter for some local families:

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1. The Giving Tree (GIAC) – Ends Friday, Dec 11 (Today!)

The Greater Ithaca Activities Center wants to make sure that every child gets a gift for the holiday. If you want to help them achieve that goal, you can choose a child who might otherwise go wanting from the Giving Tree.

To pick a child from the Giving Tree you can either stop by GIAC, 301 West Court Street, between 9 AM and 5 PM or contact Brandon Blas, 607-272-3622 or

Unwrapped presents need to be dropped off by 5pm by closing time on Friday!

2. Share the Warmth Campaign – Ends Monday, Dec 14

Although the snow hasn’t truly started falling yet, temperatures are dropping and the worst of winter is still to come. Some families don’t have good quality clothing and bedding to stay cozy through the colder months.

The 22nd Annual “Share the Warmth” is asking people to contribute new and gently-used winterwear and blankets. Winterwear includes winter coats, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, snow boots, snow pants, and other cold-weather articles. The community is in greatest need of winter gear for children.

There are numerous locations on the Cornell campus as well as locations around Tompkins to drop off a donation. Ithaca College has a drop off in the Campus Center lobby.

Tompkins County drop-off locations include: Agway True Value Home Center, Cayuga Mall; GreenStar at 701 West Buffalo and in DeWitt Mall; Island Health & Fitness at 310 Taughannock Boulevard and at Community Corners; Kendal at Ithaca; P&C Fresh; Triphammer Marketplace near Ithaca Bakery; Wegmans; YMCA of Ithaca & Tompkins County; Kinney Drugs at 44 North Street in Dryden; Tompkins Trust Company in Trumansburg; Trumansburg Shur-Save.

Share the Warmth is sponsored by the Ithaca Rotary Club, which leads the annual drives, Trumansburg Rotary, Dryden Rotary, Ithaca College, Catholic Charities Tompkins/Tioga, Finger Lakes ReUse, and Cornell University.

3. Cookie Walk (Habitat for Humanity) – Only Saturday, Dec 12 10am – 12pm at Center Ithaca

Habitat for Humanity’s 4th annual Cookie Walk gives you the opportunity to get two warm fuzzy feelings at once. Number one, you get delicious locally-made cookies. Number two, you get the knowledge that you’re helping to build a home for someone who needs one. If you want go for a bonus warm fuzzy, buy some cookies as a gift for someone on your list!

Last year’s event had over 80 cookie varieties, and they say that this year they’re going “bigger and better.”

If you can’t make the sale, there may still be time to preorder. Contact Shannon for an order form.

4. Cops, Kids, and Toys – Events on Saturday, Dec 12th, 8am – 3pm

Cops, Kids and Toys collects, purchases, and distributes toys and gifts to financially disadvantaged children in Tompkins County.

There are a lot of ways you can help this organization help those in need. Monetary donations can be made at any county law enforcement agency, and toy donations can be dropped off at this list of locations.

The group is also hosting two events on Saturday, starting with a breakfast with Santa at the Dryden Hotel. Following that is an open house “Yuletide Market” at Triphammer Marketplace. Santa will also be making an appearance there, along with live music and over 30 vendors selling local, homemade crafts. Toy donations are encouraged at both of these events.

You can also volunteer on Friday, Dec 11, helping to pack up toys for delivery. More details here.

5. Barnes & Noble Book Drive for Family Reading Partnership – Ends Thursday, Dec 31

The Family Reading Partnership will be the recipients of books gathered at this years annual Barnes & Noble book drive. Books will benefit families enrolled enrolled in the WIC federal aid program.

To donate, simply visit the store, choose an appropriate book and let the cashier know you’d like to donate it to the “Give the Gift of Family Reading” program.

The family reading partnership aims to put “A Book on Every Bed,” so every child can wake up with a new book to read during the holiday season.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.