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'What Christmas is all about': A list of ways, ideas to help Portlanders in need during the holidays

Here's a list of agencies and charities who need help during the holidays (and beyond!), as well as lower-key, grassroots traditions people said their families love.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

PORTLAND, Ore. — At the peak of the holiday season, it's almost as predictable a staple as heartwarming carols and the panic of procrastinated shopping: Portlanders are reaching out, looking for ideas on how they can help those in need.

And we’re not alone!

This week, CNBC published a list of gifts you can buy that “do good” with your money.

Locally, KGW has got you covered.

Below you’ll find a list of agencies and charities who need help during the holidays (and beyond!), as well as lower-key, grassroots traditions people said their families love.

And, while we tried to list as many options as much as possible, we couldn’t fit them all in.

So, if you want to suggest one, please do!

Share this story on social media with your own suggestion, or comment on our pages.


211info is the phone number and agency that helps people in need of housing or other assistance help connect with the services they need. They keep a master list of donation and volunteer opportunities available in Multnomah County. Learn more

Transition Projects, which runs shelters and sends volunteers to camps throughout the city, has put out a call for men's warm, winter gear. Check their drop-off locations or order from their Amazon Wishlist.

The Clackamas Service Center keeps a list of needed items. For info on how and where to give, click here.

Family Promise of Beaverton helps place homeless families in empty rooms and spaces, offered up by churches, rec centers and other random locations throughout Beaverton. On Wednesdays, they publish "wish lists." Here's their most recent one. And for info on how to donate or volunteer, click here.

Rose Haven is a day shelter for women and children. They list the items they accept, along with those they "greatly" need. Those include all new and unused underwear, socks, shampoo and conditioner, hand sanitizer and more. Find the full list here.

Finally, Do Good Multnomah helps local homeless veterans, a mission that includes running a new, tiny house village for vets in Clackamas County. Here’s their donation page.


If you and your family are more into grassroots giving back, we’ve got that covered, too.

KGW’s Maggie Vespa put out a call for ideas, and Portlanders delivered!

Lealoa Ma’o wrote “I collect toiletries from my friends and family and anyone and then sort them out into personal bags for the homeless on the streets.”

M Katherine Vasquez had a similar idea, writing “I help give out hand warmers to homeless, who ever needs a hand.”

Teresa Cannon Liehr wrote, “Truthfully, i try to do the small things people dont think of. I pay for the persons person's groceries that obviously cant afford them. I take dinner to the people on the street living in their car. I send gifts anonymously in mail to kids who will probably not get any. Isnt that what Christmas is all about?”

And Dee Ann Wheaton had her eye on helping those who work through the holidays: “Our favorite tradition we started a few years back is to go out on Christmas Eve for dinner. We order drinks, appetizers, dessert so it is a big total and then leave a 50% tip. We go to local restaurants so it supports them too. The best part is leaving the restaurant knowing they will pick up that receipt and be just a little happier when they see it.”


While the holidays are an obvious go-to, any day of the year is a great time to give back, and all of these agencies and ideas are great options year-round.

As Pamela PJ Johnson put it, “Help is needed 365 days a year.”

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