During the holidays, giving can be contagious.
For some, it might mean sending a wrapped gift to a child in need. For others, it could be donating supplies to unwanted animals. This season, there are plenty of ways to help out locally on Tybee Island.
Working in conjunction with the Tybee Island YMCA, the Rising Tyde Community Food Pantry provides meals for families on Tybee year-round, but their numbers increase over the holiday season.
"Last December, we served 56 households, which equaled almost 130 people," said Gina Casagrande, director of the Tybee YMCA. "This year, we expect a few more."
Those interested in helping out can bring nonperishable food items to the Tybee YMCA. Items needed include canned hams, boxed stuffing and mashed potatoes, peanut butter, canned peas and corn. Monetary donations are also accepted.
This year, students at Tybee Island Maritime Academy are getting involved with the food pantry to distribute bags and donations to neighbors.
"I've never been a part of a community that is so willing to help out," Casagrande said.
In addition to donating food, neighbors can also help out by adopting an angel from the Tybee YMCA's Angel Tree. Adopting an angel means donating a wrapped gift to a local child.
"We have more angels this year on our tree than ever before," she said. "And there are still a lot left to be adopted."
Tybee Island is known for its high volume of feral cats, an undomesticated breed that can be overlooked or misunderstood by residents. For those interested in assisting these animals, look no further than the Islands Feral Cat Project.
Since 2007, the project has assisted in spaying and neutering almost 4,000 cats. Entirely operated on grants and public donations, the Islands Feral Cat Project works with low-cost spay and neuter clinics to assist feral cats around the area, of which there are many.
"We treat the sick and injured. It's not just about spaying and neutering," said project president Melonie Kinert.
The project supports feral cat colonies around Tybee, constantly treating cats in need and when possible, connecting cats to new families.
"When an animal is injured, we lend out traps so people can deliver the animal to a vet," Kinert said. "We also pick up medication for cats and try to provide housing. We use old dog houses when we can get them, fill the houses with bedding, and drop them off at colonies and other spots. Cats use them, especially during the cold weather months."
Islands accepts monetary donations via the website or by mail to 28 Twelve Oaks Drive, Savannah, GA 31410. In addition to funds, neighbors can also donate wet or dry cat food, dog houses (plastic, not wood), blankets and pillows. Donations can be dropped off at the address above.
Kinert sees an increase in donations around this time of year, and she said it gives her encouragement.
"We wish to thank all of the people who have made donations, because it shows their love of animals," she said.
Donations to Rising Tyde Food Pantry, Toys for Tots and Tybee Island Animal Shelter are also being collected at several shops and restaurants on Tybee Island. For more ways to give this holiday season, click here.
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