The following organizations are collecting toys, food and other items to help underprivileged children and families during the holiday season:
• The Christmas Angel Program of Hernando County serves children from birth to age 16 who live and attend school in Hernando County and have been prescreened and determined to be in need. Sponsors, who can be individuals or businesses, will receive children's wish lists that include clothing sizes and hoped-for toys. The program also helps teenagers in need. Gift cards, food certificates and monetary donations are needed. Businesses can still have a wish-list tree or drop box at their site. Donation jars are currently at Beverage 50, Complete Auto, Crowder Hardware and Rehab Kinetics. The program accepts computers (those that will run Microsoft Windows XP), used working TVs and VCRs as well. To help, call (352) 596-1552.
• The Salvation Army of Hernando County is seeking donations to help more than 380 families with Christmas dinners. Each basket will include turkey or ham, stuffing, potatoes, vegetables, cranberries and fruit, and a pumpkin pie. While schools and businesses are conducting canned food drives, donations of money are needed to buy the meats and other perishables. Baskets will be distributed to families in need on Dec. 21. To help, call the Salvation Army at (352) 796-1186.
• Love Your Neighbor and Jesus and Me Ministry will host a Holiday of Hope "Gifts of Love" Christmas Party on Dec. 21 that will be provided to families in need. The goal is to give 100 children a party with wrapped gifts, food and music. Donations of gifts for children 14 and younger are needed, including toys and clothing. All donations are appreciated and are needed on or before Thursday. Gifts can be dropped off at the Rising Sun Cafe, 10 S Main St., Brooksville, where there will also be a Christmas tree with gift requests. Checks are to be made payable to Love Your Neighbor. For information, call JAM at (352) 540-9571, or Lisa at (352) 428-9275 or (352) 848-0090.
• The Retired Senior Volunteer Program will conduct its 11th annual Toy Drive in conjunction with Daystar for needy children in Hernando County. Donations of new, unwrapped toys for children from newborn to 12 years are needed and can be brought to any of the following dropoff sites: RSVP Welcome Center, Harold's Auto, Brooksville Country Club at Majestic Oaks, Hernando Heritage Museum, Spring Hill Enrichment Center, Brooksville Enrichment Center, Cortez Community Bank (Spring Hill Drive and Broad Street locations), Country Kitchen Restaurant, Hernando County Senior Citizens Club, the Restaurant and the Clover Leaf Farms retirement community. The sites will be available for donations through Friday. For information, call RSVP at (352) 796-8117 or Daystar at (352) 397-8419.
• The YMCA School Age Program is sponsoring two holiday "giving trees" to assist families in need. The trees are on display at the program office at 1236 Mariner Blvd. and at the Hernando County Family YMCA at 1300 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill. Each tree has ornaments bearing a child's gift request. Donors must return the unwrapped gift, with the ornament attached, to the YMCA School Age Program office no later than Tuesday. Donations of gift cards are also needed. For information, call the office between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays at (352) 686-9622.
• Marine Corps Reserve's Toys for Tots Program of Hernando County is collecting donations of new, unwrapped toys at the following locations:
Spring Hill: Accuform signs, Accurate Automotive, Atria Evergreen Woods, BB&T Banks, Best Buy, Bridgewater and Nantucket apartments, Changes Adult Fitness Center, Compass Banks, Complete Technology Solutions, County Line Cafe, Discovery Point Daycare, Dr. Tim Terlep, Dunkin' Donuts, Dr. Drew D. Kycynka, EXtreme Bicycles, Evolution Hair Design, Fantastic Pre-School & Daycare, Fun Fitness Factory, Gold's Gym, Hernando Correctional Institution, Hernando County Veterans Services, Mirage Hair Studio, Hair Affair, Jiffy Lube, Longshotz Sports Pub, Mariner Bowling Lanes, New-U-Weight Loss Center, Northcliffe and County Line Hess stations, Paesano's Bakery, Pickled Parrot, Pinch A Penny (Kass Circle), Printing Plus, Rizzo's Pizza, Silverthorn clubhouse, Spring Hill Fire Rescue stations, Spring Hill Lanes, Springstead High School, Sterling House, State Farm Insurance, Sweetbay supermarket, UPS stores, United Printing Services, U.S. Postal Service (Kass Circle). Brooksville: Aaron's Sales & Lease; AVA Hot Spot; Dunkin' Donuts; Central High School NJROTC; Cox Lumber; High Point Golf Club; Marine Corps League 708; Pine Grove Elementary School; Physical Therapy Services; Quiznos Subs; Register Chevrolet; West Hernando Middle School, Caglianone, Miller, Anthony Attorneys at Law; Suncoast Schools Credit Union; Texas Roadhouse; Tree Care by Robert Miller; Shoe Carnival; USMC Recruiting; Wells Fargo Financial; Florida Highway Patrol.
Other drop-off sites: Beall's Outlet stores, Big Lots, Family Dollar stores, Dollar General stores, Hernando County Utilities, Hernando County tax collector, Publix supermarkets, R. Tate's Auto Body, Regions Banks, Suncoast Schools Credit Union, Walgreens, Winn-Dixie stores, Edward Jones financial advisers, and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9236 in Hernando Beach.