Making the most of the holiday season: Giving back to the ‘Burgh

Courtesy of Melissa Stratos. Duquesne freshmen Keiren Bashor (left) and Ryan Miller (right) along with Bashor's grandmother participated in donating to the Winter Shelter on Monday night.

The Duke Staff

Nov. 18, 2021

Organizations and charities in the Pittsburgh region are gearing up for the winter months ahead in hopes of helping disadvantaged communities in and around the city. Whether it be volunteering, donating or spreading the word, Duquesne students are able to get involved. All of the following organizations began operations for the season, and here’s how you can “do good” in our community:

Winter Shelter – Operated by Pittsburgh Mercy

Located at 620 Smithfield St. Downtown, the Winter Shelter works with many organizations to help house the homeless community in Pittsburgh. They and began its operations this week. Some of the services offered by the Winter Shelter include a place to sleep, shower and laundry facilities, hygiene kits, health care needs and more. Different from years past, the Winter Shelter is abiding by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Allegheny County Health Department guidelines to keep everyone safe from Covid-19, but is still looking for donors, employees and volunteers to help. Though they take in-kind donations year-round by appointment, right now, the Winter Shelter is looking for new hats, gloves, scarves and gently used winter coats, sleeping bags and tents. Those interested in learning how to help can call 412-232-573 ext 4 or email Monetary donations can be made through their website, over the phone or mailed to the Pittsburgh Mercy Development Office.

Presents For Patients

In its 37th season, Presents for Patients aims to bring holiday cheer to those living in long-term care. At St. Barnabas Charities, a non-profit organization in Wexford, Pa, $30 donations offer each patient a red fleece blanket embroidered with the Presents for Patients logo. In Allegheny County alone, there are a myriad choose from that could use your support. As Covid-19 prohibits in-person visitations for those living in facilitated care, this monetary donation helps keep the spirit of the holidays alive while still keeping every loved one safe. You can also make your donation in honor of or in memory of a specific person or organization. To donate, go to Any amount you can give is welcomed and appreciated. 

Animal Friends

Animal Friends is an organization that helps rescue, rehabilitate and rehome animals in crisis. They help animals ranging from cats, dogs and even rabbits find their forever home. Special events coming up this holiday season include: Sunday Nov. 21, your pet can pose for a photo with Santa. For a $10 donation, you can receive a photo with all proceeds benefiting Animal Friends. On Saturday Dec. 4, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., find the perfect gift at Holidays with Heart. The Animal Friends campus will be transformed into a festive marketplace filled with local crafters and vendors in addition to adoptable animals. Find the perfect gift for you and your new furry friends at this event. To learn more about the adoption process or what other events, you can go to or call them at 412.847.7000.

Toys For Tots – Marine Corps

Scattered around the outskirts of Pittsburgh, the Toys For Tots nonprofit provides new toys for disadvantaged children at Christmas time. Local toy collection campaigns began in October and will continue until mid December. Through the Toys For Tots website, donors are able to contribute monetarily, or with a “virtual” toy. New to the Toys For Tots campaign is the virtual toy box, in which individuals can select an age range and toys they would like to give. Anything donated through the virtual toy box will be distributed throughout the country to children who need it. But just as before, toy boxes can be found in local communities like North Versailles, Leetsdale, Springdale and others just outside the city where donations can be dropped off. 

Holiday Meals for the Homless – Operated by the Salvation Army

There are several ways to give back to the community to fill hearts and stomachs alike. Holiday Meals for the Homeless, a partnership of Salvation Army, is a nonprofit organization that seeks to sponsor Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for families less fortunate. Along with this, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank seeks volunteers who can help through the process of boxing food donations, as well as finding means of distribution through food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. And, locally in Pittsburgh, 412 Food Rescue ships meals from a mobile app right to someone’s doorstep. Go to for more information. 

The Arthritis Foundation: Jingle Bell Run 

The Arthritis Foundation Jingle Bell Run will take place Saturday, Dec. 4 at North Park. During this event, runners are encouraged to wear their favorite holiday costume as they participate in a 5k. Running isn’t the only thing people can participate in, there will also be a Holiday costume contest and dog costume contest, a kids fun run 100-yard dash and an opening and closing ceremony. Get your tickets soon, because prices are rising. All proceeds go towards the Arthritis Foundation, more information can be found at Contact Deb Hartman at or call 412-218-1987 for any questions or concerns.