The giving season

If you want to give back to the community, consider donating toys or your time at several locations in West Orange and Southwest Orange County.

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The season of giving is upon us, and many folks are looking for ways to help others during the month of December. Local businesses, nonprofits and other organizations have set up donation drives for food and toys, others are planning food delivery events or fun community gatherings ahead of the holidays.

Here are some ways to help others in the community.



Southeastern Food Bank is looking for volunteers to deliver boxes of food from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 17, through the Food For Families program.

Drivers will meet at West Orlando Baptist Church, 1006 E. Crown Point Road, Ocoee, to

receive food boxes and a list of addresses in the area’s neediest communities. To register to make deliveries, visit



The Finding the Lost Sheep street ministry is holding its 13th annual Christmas Outreach program and is hoping the community can help it meet its goal of providing new toys for children in West Orange County.

Toys can be dropped off at the following locations: Impact Center, 784 Klondike St., Winter Garden; Kelly's Foods, 650 Carter Road, Winter Garden; First United Methodist Church of Winter Garden, 125 N. Lakeview Ave., #2710; and House Blend Cafe, 10730 W Colonial Drive, Ocoee.

If taking toys to the Impact Center, donors are asked to call (321) 354-8885 for a drop-off time. Toys will be accepted until Dec. 15. For information, visit



The Oakland Police Department's Annual Christmas Toy Drive is underway. Through Dec. 19, the department will be collecting toys at various locations throughout town. Collection boxes are set up in the lobbies of the Oakland Police Department, Town Hall, Arts and Heritage Center, Oakland Avenue Charter School, CrossFit Trailside, West Orlando Power Sports, and Tractor Supply.
Donations should be new and unwrapped for children from newborn to 17 years old. Gift cards to toy stores or department stores are welcome as well.  
“Each year, residents and businesses have generously donated to our toy drive, which we greatly appreciate,” Oakland Police Chief Darron Esan said.  “By helping us spread the joy this holiday season, you are making a difference in a child’s life.”

Financial donations will be accepted until Dec. 14. Checks should be made out to the Town of Oakland with “PD Toy Drive” written on the memo line. Cash or checks can be dropped off at the police station or mailed to the Oakland Police Department, P.O. Box 521, Oakland, FL 34760.



The Matthew’s Hope homeless ministry is hosting its annual Christmas Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, and the event is open to the community. The Winter Garden Fire Rescue Department will escort Santa Claus to the event at 11. The fun day will include live music, food booths and carnival games.

A toy drive also is underway, and donations of new unwrapped toys for ages infant to 15 years can be dropped off through Saturday at Matthew’s Hope Ministries, 661 Business Park Blvd., Winter Garden.

Volunteers are needed to host carnival games with small prizes and to assist throughout the day. To sign up, call (407) 905-9500.



Ocoee country singer Mark Houghton scheduled his second Local Music Toy Drive this Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Graffiti Junktion Clermont, 2400 S. Highway 27, Clermont — but there’s still an opportunity to donate unwrapped toys even if you miss the live music show.

The musician hosted the first music toy drive last year at Front Row in Ocoee with several hundred attendees.

Toy donations can be dropped off by calling (407) 924-6756.

"I know how I felt when I was a kid and I had a good Christmas and the joy and excitement that brought," Houghton said. "I can't imagine kids not being able to have that, and I know this will help."



Here’s a chance to check out a variety of dream cars and help local children at the same time. This family event from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, will be held at the Hamlin Town Center, 14111 Shoreside Way, in Horizon West and will showcase cars of all makes, models and eras. Registration is free for participants.

This month’s car show will include a visit from Santa and a drive to collect new toys to be delivered locally. For information, visit or call (407) 922-9541.



Seacoast Bank is collecting new and unwrapped toys through Dec. 17 for its annual holiday drive. Two local branches are serving as drop-off sites: 13207 W. Colonial Drive, Winter Garden; and 6752 Conroy Windermere Road, Orlando.


XL 106.7 BABY DJ

Several businesses in West Orange and Southwest Orange County are giving back to the community through the XL 106.7 radio station’s Baby DJ program.

The following are serving as toy drop-off sites this week: Fravel Brewer Orthodontics, 1291 Blackwood Ave., Ocoee; Ocoee Pediatrics, 1551 Boren Drive, Suite A, Ocoee; Sensible Healthcare, 2700 Old Winter Garden Road, Ocoee, Planet Fitness, 10908 W. Colonial Drive, Ocoee; Affordable Dentures, 1163 Blackwood Avenue, Ocoee; Salon Lofts No. 14, 1015 S. Dillard St., Winter Garden; Accelergy Consulting, 220 W. Main St., Winter Garden; Formula Pharmacy, 1201 Winter Garden Vineland Road, Suite 7, Winter Garden; Horizon High School’s Reptile Club, 10393 Seidel Road, Winter Garden; Riegl USA, 14707 W. Colonial Drive, Winter Garden; Winter Garden Smiles, 1317 Winter Garden Vineland Road, Winter Garden; Dentistry at Lake Reams, 13205 Reams Road, Suite 156, Windermere; Premier Academy, 9380 Gotha Road, Windermere; Lakeside Realty, 430 Main St., Windermere; Computer Business Consultants, 940 W. Oakland Ave., Suite A-8, Oakland; and Robyn Michelle Salons, 2895 Maguire Road, Windermere, and 31 S. Main St., Winter Garden.



Amy Quesinberry

Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.

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