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Adopt-a-Family: How to give gifts and support families at the holidays

Here are ways to help make the holidays brighter for local families.

“Adopting” a child or a whole family in need during the holidays by purchasing gifts and providing other support for them is one solid way to teach your kids about looking out for others in the community. When everyone in the family participates in choosing gift cards or specific gifts, kids learn lessons about showing empathy and generosity beyond their family and friends.

Here are some local programs and organizations around Seattle that will set you up with a family or child to “adopt.”

Want to purchase a toy and then drop it at a collection site? Check out “How to donate to holiday toy drives.”

Bellevue LifeSpring

This holiday season, LifeSpring is partnering with the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club to provide gift and meal support to students and families in the community who need it most. Visit The Bellevue Collection (Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square), Crossroads Bellevue, and Yarrow Point Town Hall to select a special gift tag from one of LifeSpring’s “Holiday Giving Trees.” In December, children and families will visit the Bellevue Boys & Girls Club to choose their preferred gift cards and toy items. 

Compass Housing

Compass Housing provides critical services to thousands of families in our regions. There are multiple ways to participate in the organization’s holiday support for families:

Compass’ primary need this year is gift cards for residents, which empower families in need to purchase what they would truly love for the holidays. Either go to the Compass Housing donate page and select “Holiday gift fund for Compass residents/shelter guests” from the “Designation” drop-down or purchase $25 gift cards directly from Walmart, Fred Meyer, or Amazon, and deliver them to Compass Housing’s Dexter Avenue location. The organization also has an Amazon WishList. If you are ordering directly from this page, shipping straight to Compass is an included option. Just be sure to include your name so they know it came from you. Unwrapped gifts are needed no later than December 9th. Deliver to 220 Dexter Ave N, Seattle.

Consider providing a holiday meal: Nothing says Happy Holidays like sharing a meal. Your family can partner with Compass Housing by helping sponsor a holiday party or by providing a meal at one of their 20 programs. If interested, please contact Sam at:

Federal Way Cares for Kids

This nonprofit serving families in the Federal Way School District calls its program Sponsor Christmas Morning. Bring unwrapped toys or gift cards at a $30 value to South King County fire stations. Monetary donations via Venmo at @fwcares-forkidsl or via PayPal. In addition, it has an Amazon Wish List from which items can be sent directly to the organization.

The Forgotten Children’s Fund

The Forgotten Children’s Fund is an all-volunteer organization that, since 1976, has given underprivileged children and their families a truly Merry Christmas. With the support of the greater Seattle community, the group purchases, wraps, and has Santa and his Elves deliver more than 20,000 gifts annually. The organization appreciates monetary donations and needs volunteer gift wrappers. Here’s how to volunteer at the “North Pole.” FCF’s story, by the way, will melt your heart.

Hope for Christmas Adopt-A-Family Program

Gifts Of Hope was founded in 2017 and was the first organization to create a Christmas wish list at the Othello Village Tiny House Camp in South Seattle. The original goal was to assist 50 individuals for Christmas. Today, the number of individuals and families touched by the program is in the thousands. The Hope for Christmas  Adopt-a-Family Program matches hundreds of families in need with donors throughout the community. In this way, your family can provide gifts to a specific child (including children of incarcerated parents), teen, senior, or family who otherwise wouldn’t receive gifts on Christmas morning. Questions? Call (206) 486-7171.


Hopelink, the nonprofit serving families in north and east King County, is holding its annual “Lend a Hoping Hand” holiday campaign. When you donate, 100% of your contribution directly benefits vital programs to help families in need access food, shelter, and warmth. The campaign accepts cash donations that it will distribute to families in the form of gift cards. Here’s how to give to Hopelink.

The Lake City Holiday Project

Sponsored by Meadowbrook Community Care, the Lake City Holiday Project fulfills holiday wishes for more than 600 low-income kids every year and supports multiple community nonprofits, including food banks, housing groups, and community centers. During the first two weeks in December, volunteers are needed to pick up gifts and deliver them to the Maple Leaf LCHP store. Drop-site hosting, gift bagging, and simply displaying a Lake City Holiday Project informational poster are other ways you can help out with this heartwarming community project. Learn how you can participate or call 206-524-2448. Is your family interested in sponsoring one or more children by purchasing gifts or gift cards and delivering them? Sign up using the program’s sponsor form.

Mary’s Place

Since 1999, Mary’s Place has helped thousands of women and families move out of homelessness into more stable housing. This holiday season, the shelter’s biggest request is for gift cards, which allow families in shelters to do their own personal shopping for each other. Gift cards can be purchased from retail stores like Target, Walmart, Fred Meyer, TJMaxx, or Amazon. Purchase in values of $25, $50, or $100, and be sure to write the value on the gift card. Mail cards to Mary’s Place, PO Box 1711, Seattle, WA 98111, or drop them off at the Mary’s Place donation center.

Interested in shopping for a specific toy wanted by a child in the shelter? Check out the Mary’s Place most requested toy list here. Or use the Mary’s Place Amazon Wish List to order and ship. If you would like to create a Giving Tree and include tags with a specific toy, you can download directions at the Mary’s Place donation page. Please drop all unwrapped gifts and gift cards at the donation center listed below by Saturday, December 9 to ensure the families can enjoy them by Christmas.

The Mary’s Place donation center, located at 4521 6th Ave S, Seattle, is accepting donations Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 9th.


Treehouse is dedicated to helping kids in the foster care system. It provides everything from clothing to school supplies to toys. In addition, it helps children with expenses such as fees for programs. During the 2023 holiday season, Treehouse invites donors to participate in Treehouse Bingo, in which the squares represent ways to support youth in foster care. There are prizes for filling out the entire bingo card! Treehouse appreciates monetary donations and helps families host their own holiday collection drives in support of their neighbors in need.

Check this out! Treehouse won a prestigious national honor for its Graduation Success program

United Way of King County

United Way of King County works with many local nonprofits to help make the holiday season a little brighter for those in need. For ways to help, check out United Way’s holiday volunteering list, or its in-kind volunteer list. 

Wellspring Family Services

This Seattle community service agency has launched its 2023 Giving Together holiday campaign to help families facing homelessness in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It provides housing, early learning, trauma counseling, and more. Wellspring will accept cash donations as well as new clothing and gifts through Dec. 11 at their donation center.  In addition, Wellspring has an Amazon Wish List.

The Wellspring Family Store donation center at 1900 Rainier Avenue S., Seattle, receives gift donations Monday through Friday, 9:00 to 4:30 p.m. through December 11th. 

Youth Eastside Services

For decades, Youth Eastside Services (YES) has provided counseling to help kids and families who are coping with emotional distress, substance abuse, and violence move toward health and resiliency. The YES Adopt-a-Family program matches low-income families receiving YES services to sponsors who provide gift cards that help them afford presents, groceries, and basic necessities during the holidays. Interested in helping struggling youth directly? Volunteer mentor opportunities are also available. Find out more about ways to support Youth Eastside Services or call (425)747-4937.

YWCA gift-giving program

YWCA’s holiday giving program helps more than 1,000 families annually in King and Snohomish counties. Here’s how it works for 2022: First, YWCA requests that people register by Nov. 30 to be matched with a family. The YWCA would like to give each family the following (and they asked that it be postmarked by Dec. 12):

  • A $150 gift card for groceries for the head of the household
  • Two $75 gift cards for each child to the two stores of their choice

Once matched, you’ll receive information about the family or families you are supporting including names, ages, interests, and their store gift card requests.

If you are unable to support a family but still want to help, you can drop off or mail gift cards to the addresses below. Preferred cards are Target, Fred Meyer, and Walmart, and individual gift cards will be combined to give to unmatched families. Please include activation codes with your gift cards.

King County donors: Drop off gift cards at Phillis Wheatley Branch, 2820 East Cherry Street in Seattle from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on December 6-8

Snohomish County donors: Drop off gift cards from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

  • Wednesday, December 6 at the Everett Regional Center, 3301 Broadway, Everett.
  • Thursday, December 7 at the Pathways for Women Shelter, 6027 208th St SW, Lynnwood.

More ways to put heart in your holidays:

Places your family can volunteer during the holidays, or anytime

5 simple ways to teach kids the volunteering spirit

About the Author

Seattle's Child Staff