Pamela and David Baker have been looking forward to settling into their south Tulsa apartment in time for Christmas.
For the past few years, the Bakers have been experiencing homelessness, but with the support of Mental Health Association Oklahoma, Pamela will have a warm place to snuggle her American Staffordshire terrier-mix, Brezzy. David, who has worked in Italian and Mexican restaurants in the past, will have a kitchen to test out new recipes.
“I’m overly excited, but I’m also nervous,” Pamela said. “I haven’t had my own place before.”
The Bakers were among the dozens of people last week who visited Denver House, a drop-in center that offers a supportive atmosphere for adults experiencing the challenges of homelessness and mental illness. On especially frigid days, the center, near 17th Street and Denver Avenue, welcomes upward of 100 people.
That figure offers a small glimpse into the massive amount of need in the community.
To help alleviate that need, organizers at Mental Health Association Oklahoma create care packages for people who don’t have a place to call home. The packages contain clothing, toiletries and dry food.
“They provide the really useful life products that will get (people) through the hard winter months,” said Matt Gleason, spokesman for Mental Health Association Oklahoma.
The association is in need of donations for the packages. Requested products include antibacterial wipes, tissues, bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, flushable wipes, lip balm, bug repellent wipes and socks.
Jennifer Rivera, an outreach and rapid response case manager at Denver House, said the packages provide more than just essentials.
“It just helps to build that rapport,” Rivera said. “It helps them to know that people care.”
Mental Health Association Oklahoma is one of many local nonprofits that needs help serving people in need this holiday season. The list below offers guidance for people looking for specific charitable opportunities in the coming weeks.
823 S. Detroit Ave.
Who they are: Assists people with disabilities in attaining and maintaining their personal independence through advocacy, education and service.
What they need: Vacuum, computer, large lift chair (400-pound capacity), small dining table and two chairs.
101 E. Archer St.
Who they are: Organization that seeks to make the arts accessible to all of Tulsa’s diverse populations.
What they need: Clear glass jars with lids (no decoration), yarn, embroidery floss, Liquitex acrylic paint, construction paper, Sharpies, markers, crayons, beads, monetary donations.
Broken Arrow Neighbors
315 W. College St., Broken Arrow
Who they are: An interfaith organization that provides basic-needs emergency assistance to more than 13,000 financially disadvantaged people in the Broken Arrow area.
What they need: Box meals, Manwich, canned stew, hot and cold cereal, soups, instant potatoes, chili, mac and cheese, juice (plastic containers), pasta and sauce, toothbrushes (adult and children), toothpaste, deodorant.
Catholic Charities of Eastern Oklahoma
2450 N. Harvard Ave.
Who they are: 14 programs serving those in need. Services include food, clothing, dental care, pregnancy care, adult education, counseling, transitional living, adoption, refugee resettlement, immigration legal assistance, hot meals and more.
What they need: Monetary donations, diapers, car seats, peanut butter, frozen turkeys, blankets, coats.
The Center for Individuals With Physical Challenges
815 S. Utica Ave.
Who they are: Provides organized social, cultural and recreational opportunities for people with physical disabilities.
What they need: Athletic tape, large rolls solid color duct tape, basketballs, bike helmets, softball bats, exercise mats, foam exercise balls, 55 cm Conge fitness exercise balls, electric can opener, mixing bowls, paring knives, spatulas, serving spoons, measuring spoons and cups, towels and washcloths, acrylic paint, small and medium paint brushes, Elmer’s and Gorilla glue, masking tape, adult scissors, 16x20 stretched canvases, garden gloves, inside pots for plants, cafeteria trays, winter gloves, hats, scarves, socks, gift cards and monetary donations.
7617 S. Mingo Road
Who they are: Charity that provides a loving home and 24/7 care for dying people in need.
What they need: Monetary donations, nonlatex gloves, liquid hand soap, stain remover, 13- and 55-gallon trash bags, air freshener and votive candles, disinfecting wipes, Pine Sol, Lantiseptic ointment, hair brushes and combs, summer nightgowns, postage stamps, gift cards for groceries and office supplies.
Emergency Infant Services
222 S. Houston Ave.
Who they are: Provides assistance to children 5 years old or younger and their families.
What they need: Diapers sizes 4, 5 and 6; gently used or new toddler clothing; winter coats for toddlers; toys for children 5 and younger; car seats; pack n plays; monetary donations.
Family & Children’s Services
650 S. Peoria Ave.
Who they are: Organization that helps families in crisis and serves people struggling with mental illness, addiction and homelessness.
What they need: Toys, books and games for children of all ages; clothing such as coats, pajamas, hats, underwear, gloves and socks; small household appliances; toiletries; monetary gifts; grocery cards.
Family Safety Center Tulsa
600 Civic Center
Who they are: Provides help, resources and legal assistance for victims of domestic violence.
What they need: Toothpaste and toothbrushes, hair combs and brushes, tissues, shampoo, soap, feminine products, deodorant, lotion, shaving cream, razors, adult diapers, sanitizer, baby wipes and diapers, plastic/disposable gloves, dry and canned food items, cloth or heavy-duty tote bags for emergency supplies/clothing.
Foster Family Resource Center
3722 E. 51st St.
Who they are: Local nonprofit Tulsa Advocates for the Protection of Children and volunteers working to improve the lives of 1,800-plus foster kids in Tulsa County by providing essential resources.
What they need: Christmas for Kids donations, diapers, jackets, coats, socks, underwear, shoes, cribs, car seats, beds.
Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma
4810 S. 129th East Ave.
What they do: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place. Community Outreach team helps girls challenged by socioeconomic or high-risk life situations.
What they need: Girls’ coats (all sizes), hats, gloves, scarves, grocery gift cards, monetary donations for girls in need; for programs: a boat, medical gator, canoes, kayak, walkie talkies, dutch oven, ice chest with wheels, 8-10 person tents, backpacking tents, climbing gear, archery equipment, tomahawks, Chromebooks, helmets, lifejackets, fishing equipment.
501 S. Cincinnati Ave.
Who they are: Soup kitchen and food pantry.
What they need: Paper grocery bags, canned chicken and tuna, canned vegetables, pasta, rice for the pantry, granola bars, fruit cups, 100 percent juice boxes, fruit snacks for the kid’s packs and financial contributions for the daily community meal.
John 3:16 Mission
506 N. Cheyenne Ave.
Who they are: Ministry restores hope to homeless and at-risk men, women and children as it ministers to their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs.
What they need: Vehicles in working condition, new and gently used clothing, new socks and underwear, furniture and household appliances, toiletries.
Just the Beginning
3434 S. Garnett Road
Who they are: Christ-centered organization designed to empower women who have gone through the criminal justice system.
What they need: Winter hats, scarves and gloves; shampoos and conditioners; toothbrushes and toothpaste; body wash, deodorant and lotion; toilet paper; sanitary napkins; white socks, white face towels.
The Little Light House Inc.
5120 E. 36th St.
Who they are: Christian developmental center for children with special needs.
What they need: Paper towels, ice melt, Lowe’s gift cards, zip-close bags, unscented baby wipes, batteries, 16Gb or higher flash drive, clear dinner plates, pre-K board games, latex-free medical gloves, washable children’s craft paint, Cricut Explore Air 2, OBI self-feeder device.
Mend Pregnancy Resource Center
6216 S. Lewis Ave., Suite 100
Who they are: Provides pregnancy testing, limited ultrasound, pregnancy options information, education and support programs for moms of children 3 and younger.
What they need: Packages of wet wipes, unopened packages of diapers size 3 to size 6, formula, baby supplies including clothing from newborn to size 3T, diaper bags, nursing shawls, sling-style baby carriers, new baby washcloths, towels, crib sheets, sippy cups, high chairs, swings, umbrella strollers, car seats, potty chairs, bouncy seats, baby gates, baby bath tubs, and monetary donations.
Mental Health Association Oklahoma
1870 S. Boulder Ave.
Who they are: Advocacy group that represents people affected by mental illness and homelessness in communities throughout Oklahoma. Rapid Response Homeless Outreach team offers street outreach care packages.
What they need: Socks, crackers, small bottles of water, gum, applesauce, Nutri-Grain bars, toothpaste and toothbrushes, tissues, travel deodorant, bars of soap, travel shampoo, lip balm, wet wipes, feminine hygiene items, Hot Hands hand warmers, bus tokens.
Porta Caeli House
2440 N. Harvard Ave.
Who they are: Compassionate end-of-life care, when dying at home is not an option.
What they need: Monetary donations.
Ronald McDonald House
6102 S. Hudson Ave.
Who they are: Ronald McDonald Houses provide a space where families can eat home-cooked meals and enjoy private bedrooms so they can stay near their hospitalized child for the duration of their medical treatment.
What they need: Cleaning and maintenance supplies (trash bags, Lysol, laundry detergent, soap, Clorox wipes), paper plates and bowls, new personal items (deodorant, soap, hair care, toothbrushes, razors, feminine hygiene), new household items (mattress pads, towels, washcloths, dishcloths, nonstick pots and pans). Registered at Amazon.com.
Tulsa Boys’ Home
2727 S. 137th West Ave.
Who they are: Serves 64 boys, ages 11-18, with serious emotional, behavioral and/or drug problems requiring long-term placement out of the home in a structured, therapeutic environment.
What they need: White T-shirts (men’s sizes S-XL); pillows, sheets and comforters (twin size); black belts (men’s sizes 30-42); black ankle socks; hygiene products (shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste).
Tulsa Glassblowing School
19 E. M.B. Brady St.
Who they are: Nonprofit open-access hot shop and kiln studio offering unique experiences for anyone interested in glass art.
What they need: Wall Street Journal newspapers, equipment for free program serving veterans, such as blowpipes, punties, wood paddles, Kevlar mitts, shaping blocks and color frit, painter’s blue tape, paper towels, AA and AAA batteries, Swiffer dusters.
Tulsa Zoo Management Inc.
6421 E. 36th St. North
Who they are: The Tulsa Zoo enrichment wish list collects items for animals to encourage exercise, provide mental stimulation and promote natural, healthy behaviors they would demonstrate in the wild.
What they need: Durable chew toys and balls, bird chips and toys, sandbox, indoor/outdoor bubble machine, portable DVD player for primates.
Youth Services of Tulsa
311 S. Madison Ave.
Who they are: Provides a wide array of services to help teens and young adults through difficult times including homelessness.
What they need: Winter coats, socks, underwear, blankets, backpacks, one- or two-person tents and adult cold-weather sleeping bags. Apparel should be adult sizes in styles suitable for teens and young adults.