2009 Holiday guide // Charitable giving

Nonprofits and charities in our community are facing unprecedented financial challenges. The climate of giving has changed dramatically and now, more than ever, groups doing important work in the community need support. Here’s an overview of organizations in Southwest and Downtown seeking donations and volunteer help.

American Red Cross
1201 West River Parkway
871-7676, redcrosstc.org

The Twin Cities’ chapter of the American Red Cross provides all the relief and services of the national program, but still maintains a strong local and communal presence. The Red Cross consists of a large community of volunteers who lend their time and aid to those who have become targets of disaster. The Twin Cities Red Cross responds to nearly 350 local disasters annually including tornadoes and house fires. Thanks to donations and volunteers, the program can provide food, shelter, clothing and personal necessities to those who have been affected. In addition to disaster relief, the Twin Cities Red Cross aims to prepare people for emergency situations through their community outreach and training programs.

Donations needed: No items, donations of monetary funds

Volunteers needed: Always need volunteers for community outreach, disaster relief

Catholic Charities
1200 2nd Ave. S
664-8500, [email protected], ccspm.org

Catholic Charities works to strengthen families and end poverty in Minneapolis and St. Paul, offering support to everyone from newborns to the elderly, regardless of faith. Their mission is to serve those most in need while calling for justice in the community. The program offers educational and health services, shelters and housing, food shelves, counseling and a strong outreach and advocacy base as well. In 2008, Catholic Charities provided more than a million meals and 330,000 nights of shelter to adults and children.

Donations needed: There is an immediate need for blankets at The Dorothy Day Center in downtown St. Paul, which is experiencing a shortage. Gently used or new blankets can be dropped off on site. Monetary donations can be made as a one-time gift or as a monthly contribution, but at this time of year, Catholic Charities offers specific holiday opportunities as well. Stop by the Giving Tree in the Bloomingdale’s Court at the Mall of America, pick an ornament off the tree, and purchase the requested gifts for a homeless or low-income family. The gifts vary from household items to toys to winter clothing. Another donation opportunity is to sponsor a family. This program provides gifts and a holiday meal to a family who would otherwise have none. For more information, call 664-8600.

Volunteers needed: There is an immediate need for individuals to shop, provide transportation and spend time with elderly individuals in your neighborhood, especially in Scott and Carver counties, and in Bloomington. A group of five to seven individuals is needed to purchase, prepare and serve breakfast for about 175 people at the Branch III location on 17th St. Holiday volunteering opportunities such as decorating and gift delivery are available but fill up quickly. Find out more about these and other opportunities by calling the volunteer hotline at 664-8600.

House of Charity
510 S. 8th Street
594-2000, houseofcharity.org

House of Charity has been a local resource for struggling and impoverished individuals since 1952 when Brother De Paul opened the first facility on Nicollet Island. Now in downtown Minneapolis, the House of Charity still strives to help individuals meet their basic needs while reducing their barriers toward self-sufficiency and positive life-transformation. The program operates in four strategic areas, including food, housing, recovery from chemical dependency and workforce development.

Donations needed: At House of Charity, every dollar provides three meals. The organization encourages interested donors to host a small event to raise money or possibly skip a latte a week and give that amount. Monetary donations can be made online or by mail. Donations of personal care items, clothing, novels and art supplies are also needed.

Neighborhood Involvement Program
2431 Hennepin Ave. S
374-3125, neighborhoodinvolve.org

Operating since the mid-1960s, the Neighborhood Involvement Program (NIP) is a community effort to fight the social problems that exist in the South Minneapolis neighborhoods. NIP aims to help people reach their full potential by helping them through setbacks, whether they are financial, physical or mental, that may otherwise hold them back. A small staff and a large group of volunteers combine to offer a variety of health care and social services, such as community health clinics, a rape and sexual abuse center, group and individual therapy, as well as youth education and senior programs.

Donations needed: NIP accepts donations in three forms. The first is a contribution by check or credit card. The second option is a donation of appreciated securities. The third is a planned gift by bequest. For more information on any of the three donation types, contact the Resource Development Office at NIP by calling 746-8543.

Volunteers needed: NIP relies on a team of nearly 1,500 volunteers to annually provide health and social services to underserved community members. The invitation to become a part of this community-wide team is always open. Volunteer positions include receptionists, medical professional of all kinds, web consultants, fundraisers, tutors, chore assistants and many more. Access the volunteer page on the NIP website for more information.

Twin Cities RISE!
800 Washington Ave. N.
338-0295, twincitiesrise.org

Twin Cities RISE! (TCR!) began in 1994 in an effort to help low-income adults living in generational poverty develop a set of skills that would increase their opportunities for work. The mission today remains the same: to provide training to a diverse group of low-income men and women, providing employers with skilled workers and TCR! graduates with jobs that pay a living wage of at least $20,000.  TCR! serves more than 1,300 people each year in both Minneapolis and St. Paul with their programs that combine personal empowerment training, one-on-one coaching, individualized career training and employee placement services.

Donations needed: TCR! encourages donations as an investment in the success of an individual and the community. Monetary gifts can be made as one-time gifts or on a monthly basis. Interested donors can call 338-0295, or e-mail [email protected] In-kind donations such as furniture and office materials are also appreciated. See the Twin Cities RISE! Wish List on the website for a detailed list of what is needed.

Volunteers needed: There are many volunteer opportunities with TCR!, all of which benefit the further education and job placement of individuals in the Twin Cities. Volunteers are needed as speakers, tutors, administrative assistants, mock interviewers and more. For more information or questions, contact the Volunteer Department by email at [email protected] or call (651) 603-8520.

Vail Place
1412 W. 36th St.
938-9622, vailplace.org

Vail Place is a nonprofit agency providing community-based support and services for people with long-term mental illness. The mission of the program is to empower its members to take control of mental health recovery and reintegrate in a community. Vail Place’s two locations — in Minneapolis and Hopkins — offer housing, meals, peer support and social recreation. The program also helps individuals find work, get a supported education and develop a sense of self-sufficiency. Vail Place utilizes the Clubhouse Model, allowing individuals to be part of a community where belonging and friendship is clearly communicated.

Donations needed: Monetary donations are always accepted and are currently needed to purchase a new industrial stove for the facility. Donations can be made on the online at

Volunteers needed: Volunteers are needed at both locations on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years days.

For more information, contact Karen Irwin at phone number listed above.

Online Resource

Another great resource for charitable giving is GiveMN.org. The website is a new resource for donating or launching fundraisers for Minnesota nonprofits. On Nov. 17, the site sponsored a “Give to the Max” day. More than $14 million was raised for 3,000 Minnesota nonprofits. The Bush, St. Paul and Minneapolis foundations have agreed to match donations.