It’s the season of giving – the perfect time to help fulfill the wish lists of Pittsburgh non-profit organizations that provide goods and services to families in need year round.
Shopping for specific items, rather sending than a generic check, can help kids feel a real empathy for those they are assisting. It could be diapers for foster babies, crayons for a child care maker space, or warm socks for cold tootsies.
These 13 organizations shared their wish lists with us. Many of these groups participate in the Amazon Smile program, too, in which Amazon shoppers can choose the organization to support through their purchases with a 0.5-percent donation of every eligible purchase.
Wish list: Puzzles, board games, books, crayons, coloring books, DVDs, and craft kits.
As an advocate for improving public education in Pittsburgh, A+ Schools offers training, workshops, and community discussions for parents. Free childcare at these events helps eliminate the babysitting barrier. The organization’s wish items will keep kids busy as their parents learn at these sessions. Items can be donated at A+ Schools, Uptown, during office hours.
Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank
Wish list: Diapers (sizes 4, 5 and 6 are most requested), baby wipes.
No government programs directly fund diapers – and the estimated need in Allegheny County alone is 77,000 diapers per day. The Western Pennsylvania Diaper Bank collects and supplies diapers to families through 29 social service agencies in four counties (Allegheny, Washington, Westmoreland, and Somerset).
The gift of your time is another wish: Teen and older volunteers are needed year-round at the Point Breeze warehouse to help unload, sort and package diapers for receiving agencies.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Wish list: Pantry staples, such as cereal, popcorn, juice boxes, single-serving snacks, paper towels, dish soap, larger freezer bags, paper plates and bowls, and plastic flatware. Personal care items include soap and shampoo.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh gives families the opportunity to stay as they travel to Pittsburgh to get life-saving medical care for their kids. Check the organization’s Amazon Wish List for one-stop donation shopping or call ahead to drop off items. Also welcome: gift cards for grocery stores, and tickets for theater, athletic and family events.
The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh
Wish list: New toys, games, books and other items from the institute’s Amazon Wish List.
With a history well over 100 years, The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh has become a nationally recognized pediatric rehabilitation hospital. Its Therapeutic Activities Department provides developmental, social, emotional, and recreational support for kids to help them reach their potential.
Family House, Inc.
Wish list: Food pantry supplies, such as breakfast bars, cake mixes, crackers, snack packs, and microwaveable popcorn. Guest House needs include items such as body lotion, body wash, shampoo, hand sanitizer, manicure kits, slipper socks.
Family House provides a home away from home for patients and families who must travel to Pittsburgh for treatment of serious illnesses. The small comforts of home help in stressful times.
South Hills Interfaith Movement
Wish list: Personal care items, such as shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, toothbrushes, and soap, plus diapers and baby food.
In a typical month, families will visit one of South Hills Interfaith Movement’s three food pantries 779 times. About 1,600 people – 35 percent of them children – will receive critically needed food, including fresh produce, meat, dairy products, and household items.
As the food pantries tend to become even more crowded in winter months, non-perishable food items always are welcome. Donations can be dropped off at the Bethel Park location during business hours Mondays through Wednesdays.
Wish list: Socks, gloves, and hats for kids and adults, plus baby diapers, for housing client families. Crayons, colored pencils, coloring books, markers, and tape for kids’ activities and projects.
The YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, with a service record of 150 years, provides safe, affordable housing to homeless and low-income families; child care and pre-k education; and community health and wellness programs.
Items can be dropped off during business hours Mondays through Fridays at the Downtown or Homewood YWCA locations.
Homewood Children’s Village
Wish list: Hats, gloves, and socks for kids.
The mission of Homewood Children’s Village is to improve the lives of kids in Homewood and change their odds on the future. Programs cover kids from “cradle to career” with the idea that mom and dad are the first teachers, collaborating with them, and working with organizations throughout the community through every stage of a child’s life.
Northside Food Pantry
Wish list: Bulk packages of non-perishable food (a case of soup, for example, rather than a can), household items, such a paper towels and cleaning products.
The Northside Food Pantry helps nearly 1,000 of its neighbors stretch their grocery budgets each month. Donations of food and household items are welcome. Low-sodium, hearty staples are always appreciated, as are bulk packages (a case of soup vs. a can of soup), and household items such as paper towels and cleaners.
Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center
Wish list: Hats, gloves, chapstick, hand lotion, and pocket tissues.
Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center, a community-based outgrowth of Macedonia Church of Pittsburgh, operates with the mission to encourage the development of healthy families. Programming includes family engagement services, truancy intervention, and support for families in crisis.
The Bradley Center
Wish list: Headphones, earbuds, CD players and iPod Nanos, movie DVDs, video games, board games, puzzles, and toys. Clothing includes new shirts, pants, socks, and underwear for ages 7-18.
The Bradley Center is committed to improving the lives of kids affected by trauma, mental illness, and behavioral health challenges. Along with the wish-list items is a suggestion for gift cards that give kids a chance to buy what they want and practice life skills like shopping and managing money. Pittsburgh Pirates, Penguins and Steelers gear is popular, too.
Carnegie Science Center
The Carnegie Science Center is building a collection of LEGOs for a children’s building activity area in the new PPG Science Pavilion, opening in June 2018. The LEGOs will stay until January 2019 when the Science Center will pay it forward by donating the LEGOs to Play It Forward Pittsburgh, a nonprofit organization that gives toys to children in need.
Drop your LEGO donation into the Science Center’s giant PPG Paint Can in the main lobby from Dec. 15-June 8.
Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh
Wish list: Gift cards (VISA, Target, Walmart, Dollar Tree), Arm & Hammer Diaper Pail refill bags and Diaper Genie bags, new bath towels, new pajamas, robes, slippers, underwear for women and kids.
Donations will help the Women’s Center & Shelter provide women and child victims of domestic abuse with basic needs while seeking a place of safety.
The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh & Lemieux Family Center
Wish list: Baby and toddler toys, baby equipment (car seats, high chairs, bouncers), baby bottles, premie and newborn onesies and clothing, diapers, baby wipes, infant activity tables, play kitchen items, arts-and-crafts sets.
Donations directly help children and families in the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh’s three programs: Adoption, Child’s Way, and the Pediatric Specialty Hospital. For health and safety reasons, all donations must be new and in original packaging, please.
Foster Love Project
Wish list: Diapers and pull-ups, Nutramigen or Alimentum Formula, packs of socks and underwear for ages 3-18, pillows, crib mattresses, crib and twin sheets, twin bed-in-a-bag sets.
The Foster Love Project helps ease the transition for kids moving in and out of home placements by providing travel bags to replace the trash bags holding their few personal items. The Foster Love bags are filled with pajamas, a blanket, stuffed animal, socks, soap, toothbrush, and a book. A “free” donation store recently opened to service the approximately 2,500 kids in foster care in Allegheny County.