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Holiday and Winter Season Assistance

Do you know about additional assistance available this season? 211info offers resources for those in need and opportunities for those wanting to give back this season.

As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving and sharing becomes even more significant. Here at 211info, we have resources in our database that can make the holiday season brighter, whether it’s a holiday food box, celebration or festival, a warm meal, or a place to find shelter. 

Cara Kangas, Director of Partnerships, shed light on the distinctive aspects of the season at 211info, explaining, “Over the years, I have heard our staff report that the holiday season is one of their most favorite times to provide referrals, because there is often something unique to offer, or a person on the line looking to help their fellow neighbor, or make a donation to their favorite organization. It’s encouraging to find those ‘needle in a haystack’ resources and bring joy to the community the best way we can.”

211 is an easy number to remember to access community information, but we’re so much more than a call center or database; we’re community members trained to listen with compassion and help people connect with the support they need.

Holiday and seasonal assistance: a closer look

Did you know that help during the holidays is one of our most requested needs? In 2022, we had 2,136 requests for holiday assistance. The top five most requested needs were:

  • Holiday Gifts/Toys
  • Christmas Baskets
  • Thanksgiving Baskets
  • Christmas Meals
  • Thanksgiving Meals

This season brings significant changes in available resources, and our database is updated on a daily basis. We strive to keep it up-to-date and accurate throughout the season, so if you aren’t finding resources, we encourage you to check back regularly for updates.

If you or someone you know is seeking food or gift assistance during the holidays, visit 211info.org/get-help/basic-needs/ then select “Holiday Programs” to connect with programs that can help.

Real-time outreach and community collaboration

Our outreach and engagement team, who live and work in the areas they serve, build direct connections with local providers to capture all special holiday and winter weather services available within our entire service region. This fall, we also hosted multiple roundtables to identify community needs and potential gaps in holiday services. The roundtables served as a platform to plan and problem-solve collectively, and participants gained a clearer understanding of the holiday services available to their local community.

Last year, 351 requests for holiday assistance went unfilled; either services were no longer available, at capacity, or simply did not exist. We recognize there are times when certain areas have limited resources, which is why we look to the community to assist us in helping as many people as possible.

Do you have services to share with those in need this season? Or do you know of holiday services in your community?  Help us bridge the gap by informing us of any local resources not currently listed in our database by emailing [email protected] or visiting our website.

211info’s Holiday Roundtable in Lane County, November 2023.

Winter shelter and warming center options

The winter sheltering season (November 1st to March 31st) is in full swing and temperatures continue to drop. Between November 2022 and February 2023,  211info was activated for severe weather by county or state officials for 28 days. During this time, we received 1,238 requests for severe weather transportation that helped get people to and from any warm space and out of the elements.

As our resource team continues updating winter and severe weather shelter sites and warming centers throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, it can be helpful to know the different types of shelters you can find in our database during the colder months.

  • Year-round shelters: Open year-round, with some opening extra space in winter
  • Winter shelters: Open only throughout the entire winter season
  • Severe weather shelters: Activated  county officials based on specific inclement weather conditions
  • Emergency warming centers: Daytime or evening access to heated facilities during times of extreme cold

Sheltering availability can and will change depending on the current event and the availability of resources. We encourage people looking for assistance to frequently check our sheltering status, or give us a call for the most up-to-date information.

Donations and volunteering: make a difference this season

‘Tis the season for giving, and your community needs your support! Whether you’re interested in serving meals, donating gifts/toys, or contributing financially – opportunities abound. Ongoing requests for winter sheltering donations and warm gear are also deeply appreciated. To learn more about the types of donations sought, or other ways to get involved, visit our donation page.

Time of increased need for mental health

Amidst the holiday hustle, let’s also remember the importance of mental well-being. The season can bring joy, but many people also experience increased loneliness and isolation. Whether it is in a crowd or at home alone, loneliness is painful.

While many 211info departments are only open during traditional business hours, the 211 main line is open 24/7. Whether you’re seeking a food pantry or need assistance with bills – we’re here to help, and we’re here to listen.

We can also connect people to warmlines or talklines, and have access to hotlines for veterans, youth, older adults, and survivors of abuse. However, if you’re in crisis, please dial 988, and if you need emergency assistance please dial 911. For more information, check out our mental health resources.