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Holiday Outreach

University departments, offices and individual employees can bring holiday cheer to families and residents in Mercer County by contacting the social service agencies listed below. Each agency has different holiday projects and the donations are customized to the needs and wishes of those being served by the agency.

Holiday Outreach Initiative

We invite you to join with your colleagues at Princeton University to help make the season bright for local families, individuals and agencies who are in need during the holidays.

Whether you want to participate individually or as a group, there is someone who can use your help.

Below is a list of local agencies and special initiatives that will help you to connect with those in need during the holiday season.

If you have any questions, please contact Erin Metro at (609) 258-5144 or send e-mail to

Special Events

Operation Gratitude - Heros for Heroes

Help us send special greetings to our service men and women who will be away from home this holiday season. Gather your colleagues to form a team or participate on your own to write holiday greeting cards or letters. The team or individual who delivers the most cards and letters to the Frist Campus center by 1:30 p.m. on Monday, November 25 will receive lunch of either Princeton’s famous Hoagie Haven or Slice Between! (Up to $100 value).

Need cards or stationery? Stop by the Frist Campus Center, 100 level between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Friday, November 22 or Monday, November 25 and we’ll provide everything you need. Want to print your own card and personalize it? Just choose a card from the links provided below. No envelopes are necessary.

Holiday Greetings                           Thank You

Each card and letter collected will be included in a care package that will be sent to our soldiers overseas through the non-profit organization Operation Gratitude. All cards and letters MUST be dropped off no later than November 25 to ensure enough time for the greetings to reach our troops. Greetings should not be sealed.  For more information contact Olivia Martel at

A Cappella Jam

Holiday "A Cappella Jam" Toy Drive with performances by Princeton University A Cappella and local singing groups. To be held on Princeton's Palmer Square Green, Friday, December 6 th, 6 - 8  p.m.  Free and open to the public.  Attendees are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy that will be donated to the YWCA Princeton St. Nicholas Project.  For more information, go to

"Holiday Hoops" Food Drive

Bring a non-perishable food item and receive a voucher for $4 off the price of game day admission*, when the Princeton University Men's basketball team takes on Fairleigh Dickinson, Saturday, December 7, 7 p.m. at Jadwin Gym.

Receive Free admission when you bring two non-perishable food items to the Princeton University Women's basketball game vs. St. Joseph's on Tuesday, November 26 at  5:30 p.m. AND Delaware on Sunday, December 15, 2 p.m. both games will be held in Jadwin Gym. All donations go to support the Friends of Mercer Street Food Bank.

*cannot be combined with any other coupon

Ongoing Projects

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank has been at the forefront of the fight to end hunger in the greater Mercer County area, supplying food to nearly 50 pantries, shelters, and soup kitchens for nearly two decades.

Collection: Monday, November 25 through Wednesday, December 18. Collection boxes will be available at the following locations: Nassau Hall Room 9; New South A Level; E-Quad Room C232; Jadwin Gym; Guyot Hall Atrium; Helm Building; Robertson Hall;  22 Chambers Street;  Princeton Plasma Physics Lab; Lewis Thomas Lab; West College; 200 Elm Drive;  701 Carnegie Center; Lewis Library; 171 Broadmead; 185 Nassau Street; University - N.O.W. Day Nursery; 693 Alexander Road and the MacMillan Building.

Most needed food and home and beauty products: Canned protein (tuna fish, sardines, salmon, or chicken), canned fruit (in light syrup or juices), canned vegetables, rice, pasta, pasta sauce, Parmalat or other shelf stable milk, cereals, oatmeal, pancake mix (non-sugar), peanut butter, jelly, dish and laundry soap, soaps and body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, feminine products. Send Hunger Packing Program provides school aged children in need with nutritionally sound, easy-to-open meals to get them through the weekend.  Items needed include: shelf stable 2% reduced fat milk in 8 oz single serving size, cereal – individual bowls or boxes, Starkist Tuna to Go or equivalent, Bumble Bee Tuna Salad with Crackers to Go or equivalent, Chef Boyardee Microwaveable Bowls or equivalent, Campbell or Progresso Microwaveable Bowls or equivalent, Hormel Completes Entrees or equivalent, peanut butter – 18 oz., Jif to Go – little peanut butter cups, grape jelly in plastic containers – 14 to 18 oz., Yo On The Go – yogurt smoothie drink in shelf stable brick packs, granola bars, shelf stable pudding cups.

Please note: We cannot accept home-canned food, open packages, expired baby food, or any kind of glass container. Thank you.

The Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton

The Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton serves some 1,400 families and individuals each month from two accessible locations. Our core program areas are: Homelessness Prevention, which stabilizes households under financial strain by providing emergency utilities payments, rent and security deposit assistance, and mortgage assistance; Hunger Prevention, which makes fresh, heart-healthy foods accessible to families in need; and Workforce Development, which provides on-site job training, job search, and life skills mentoring for up to 60 welfare-to-work participants per year.

Most Needed Items:

Canned Fruit

Peanut Butter

Other Gift Ideas: Personal care products: shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, razors, shaving cream, aftershave lotion, hand and body lotion, feminine hygiene products. 

How: Please drop off holiday items Monday–Thursday, 1:30–4 p.m. at The Crisis Ministry office which is located in the basement of Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau St. (behind Richardson Auditorium). To arrange drop-off other than times listed above please contact Mark Smith at (609) 396 - 9355 ext. 26.

Volunteer and to learn more about The Crisis Ministry visit: or contact Mark Smith at (609) 396-9355 or

Contact: Craig Smith, (609) 396-9355,

Health Care Ministry of Princeton

The Health Care Ministry of Princeton is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting the elderly in our community. The ministry provides free services that enable the elderly to remain in their homes as long as it is safely possible. The organization’s services include health-related transportation, food shopping and friendly visiting.

Most Needed Items:

Gift Cards: ShopRite and McCaffrey's

Books of Postage Stamps

Other Gift ideas: Gift cards: Rite Aid, CVS

How: Donations can be dropped off at 22 Chambers Street, Suite 101 or mailed to P.O. Box 1517, Princeton, NJ, 08542.  To arrange drop off e-mail or call (609) 921-8888.

Volunteer: Help is needed year round to help with grocery shopping, driving clients to medical appointments and or a friendly visit.

Contact: Beth Scholzi, (609) 921-8888,


HomeFront’s mission is to end homelessness in Mercer County by harnessing the caring, resources and expertise of the community.  It is committed to lessening the immediate pain of homelessness and to helping families with children become self-sufficient.  They work to give their clients skills and opportunities to find employment at a living wage and advocate for increasing the availability of adequate affordable housing.

Most Needed Items:

Personal Care and Hygiene Items

Diapers (large sizes, 3 - 5)

Other Gift Ideas: Clothing: socks and undergarments for children ages 2 - 14, new or gently use coats; Personal care items: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, mouthwash, feminine hygiene products; Newborn baby items: receiving blankets, sleepers size 0 to 12 months, diapers of all sizes; Kitchen supplies: cooking utensils, pots, pans, dishes, cups, flatware; Bedroom items: bed linens, pillows, blankets, mattress covers (twin and double sizes); Bathroom items: towels, plus anything that makes a house a home.

How: Items can be dropped off 1880 Princeton Avenue, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., or Tuesdays, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Volunteer: Be a Santa’s helper and get gifts ready to distribute (December 5 - 20 weekdays)

Contact: Djenaba Figueroa, (609) 989-9417 x 133 or

One Simple Wish

One Simple Wish was founded in 2008 by a foster/adoptive parent who wanted to empower more people to support children who've been victims of abuse, neglect and abandonment in very simple yet meaningful ways. Here on our website anyone can browse through hundreds of wishes posted on behalf of foster children and at-risk youth all over the United States and find one that speaks to their heart and their budget. From school supplies to toys to sporting equipment and lots more, each wish is as unique as the child who makes it. All wishes are under $500 with most ranging from $10-$100. You can join One Simple Wish in brightening the life of a child who needs to believe in love and hope again.

Needed items:  new shoes, school supplies, music lessons, a football. These are just a few examples of the simple yet meaningful wishes made by the children in foster care that One Simple Wish supports. Below you can browse through hundreds of these wishes, starting at just $10, and find one that fits your budget and your interest.

How:  Visit

Volunteer:  To find opportunities visit

Contact:  One Simple Wish, (609)-883-8484,

Princeton Nursery School

Princeton Nursery School is a small, nonprofit childcare and preschool center providing low to moderate income working parents with affordable tuition rates for needed childcare services. Founded in 1929, Princeton Nursery School has served more than 4000 students thus providing each with a solid foundation upon which a love of learning was established. We work to assure that each child regardless of race or first language has a quality preschool education.

Most Needed Items:

Art making materials (paint, markers, paper)

Toys for boys and girls ages 2 1/2 to 5 years (popular items include: dolls, puzzles, building blocks)

Other Gift Ideas:  Gift Cards: local super markets, e.g., ShopRite.

How: Items can be dropped off at the Princeton Nursery School, 78 Leigh Ave., Princeton.

Volunteer: Be a classroom or office assistant. Volunteer one time or on a regular basis.

Contact: Wendy Cotton, (609) 921-8606,

Princeton Young Achievers

The Princeton Young Achievers (PYA) is a Princeton’s only afterschool program that provides homework help to children from lower income neighborhoods. PYA was founded in 1993 by the late Dr. Shirley Paris and other concerned parents and teachers in Princeton who recognized the need to provide better academic support for children in Princeton’s public and affordable housing communities. Today PYA operates after school enrichment for children in grades K-5 at three different locations in Princeton. Since its founding, it has served an average of 85 children each year. By providing academic support and a variety of activities, PYA helps each student “get ready for the next day of school” and keep them on pace with their peers in the classroom and ensures greater success for the years to come.

Most needed Items:

New chapter books (Harry Potter series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, etc.)

Educational Games (Checkers, Chess, Connect Four, Jenga)

Other Gift Ideas: Educational and board games: Trouble, Battleship, card games like UNO, math card games like Multipilcation War, Addition Bingo, Subtraction Bingo, Multiplication Bingo, Division Bingo,  Password and Password Jr., Twenty Questions, Pitureka, Shape by Shape, Rhyme Out, Color Pop, Knot So Fast, Math Dice, Math Dice Jr., What’s Gnu?, basic Lego sets, Lego people, Chinese Jump Rope, Cat’s Cradle, Origami paper and books, How to Draw books, Rainbow Loom and Refill Rubberbands, Dot Art Markers, stamp pads.

How: Deliver items to the Princeton Family YMCA at 59 Paul Robeson Place. These items should be delivered by Monday, December 16 to insure delivery before the PYA centers close for winter vacation. The YMCA is open from 5:45 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday , 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Please label the items P.Y.A. attn. Mary Traub. 

Volunteer:  The Princeton Family YMCA and the PYA program welcomes volunteers. There are many different types of opportunities. Please visit our website and click on the volunteer link in the upper left hand corner.

Contact: Mary Traub, Education Director, (609) 497-9622 x 203,


SAVE operates as a limited admission shelter with contracts to serve Princeton Township, Princeton Borough and Lawrence Township animal control centers. SAVE depends mostly on private contributions to support its six core programs. The shelter facility houses approximately 75 dogs and cats at a time, and helps an average of 400 animals a year.

Most Needed Items:

Canned food (dog and cat)


Other Gift Ideas: Animal Care Items : Kuranda bed for dogs, cat beds 1' x 2' (washable), Cat Hidey Beds, cat tent (washable only), dog and cat toys, cat litter, Gentle Leader Headcollars - medium and large, Heartgard and Frontline (dogs 40lb.+), dog and cat shampoo, new dog crates/cat carriers, animal bedding - polar fleece, dog halters/harnesses and leashes (large), Premier-Easy Walk (front leading) harnesses for dogs (medium, large); Food and Treats: peanut butter (non-crunchy), dog chew bones, large rawhides, dog and cat food (soft/wet/canned), hot dogs, Pill Pockets for dogs and cats; Housekeeping and Office: household 100% bleach, anti-bacterial hand soap, liquid dish soap, laundry detergent, latex gloves, sheets and towels, garbage bags (13 gallon+), glass cleaner, cleaning cloths and rags, hand sanitizer, paper towels, sponges, copy paper (white and color), pens, paper clips & binder clips, post its.
How:  Items can be dropped off at 900 Herrontown Road, Princeton, Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. 
Volunteer:  Volunteers help with: cat cage cleaning, socialization, dog walking/training, off-site adoption events.  All new interested volunteers need to attend an orientation, which is hosted host twice a month. Call the shelter to schedule an orientation - (609) 921-6122.  For more information visit

Contact: Donielle Killian-Gioia, (609) 921-6122,


Womanspace provides options and works to decrease the isolation and increase the safety for victims of domestic violence.  They are a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving the quality of life for women in crisis.  Clients come from all geographic, socioeconomic, cultural, racial and religious backgrounds and present a diversity of needs - from the emergency need for safety to the long-term need for housing and counseling.

Most Needed Items:

Gift Cards

Games for Boys and Girls ages 13 - 18

Other Gift Ideas: Gift cards allow the freedom that most of our clients have not experienced.  Women are able to get what they need for themselves and their children (Target, Walmart, phone, gas,grocery, Kmart, Sears, Dick's Sporting Goods, AC Moore, Kohl's, JC Penney); New unwrapped items for women: sleepwear, small and medium underwear and bras, sweat suits, slippers, new sneakers, curling irons, umbrellas, winter boots, T-shirts, nail care and polish, makeup, perfume, hair styling products, gloves, hats, scarves, address books, wallets, calendars, journals, pens and pencils; New unwrapped items for infants to 10 years old: modeling clay, dress-up clothes, remote control cars, Lego sets for older children, Play School toys for newborn to age 3, trucks, cars, trains, book bags, jewelry/special things boxes, finger paints, Play-Doh and accessories, interactive games and board games, Etch-A-Sketch, basketballs, soccer balls, dolls (especially African American and Latina), journals, pens and pencils, craft and paint kits, snow boots, new sneakers, sleep wear (especially size 4T to 5), slippers, underwear (all sizes),  clothing ( sizes 4T to 16); New unwrapped items for boys and girls ages 11-16: sleepwear, slippers, underwear (all sizes), Gloves hats scarves, iPods, MP3 players, Nintendo DS, new sneakers ( all sizes), snow boots (all sizes), book bags, backpacks, hand held video games and cartridges, sweat suits and jeans, winter and spring coats, playing cards, electronic games, basketballs, soccer balls, dolls (especially African American and Latina), journals with pens and pencils, modeling clay, gloves, craft paint, paint kits, model kits, interactive and board games (non-violent), earphones, tablet PC,board games, interactive games, X-Box, Wii and drawing paper. 

**Wrapping paper, scotch tape, gift bags, ribbon and gift tags are also needed.**

How: Please drop off holiday donations between Dec. 2 and Dec. 13, Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m., 1530 Brunswick Ave., Lawrenceville.

Volunteer:  Volunteers are needed for the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault teams.  For more information visit or contact Susan Adams at (609) 394-0136.

Contact: Althea Jones, (609) 394-9000,

YWCA Princeton “St Nicholas Project”

Participants in The St. Nicholas Project are matched with a Princeton family and purchase gifts and a supermarket gift certificate for food. The Project allows parents to create the magic of Christmas for their children. Having a gift given to a child by a stranger (however well meaning) cannot compare to the feeling of waking up on Christmas Day to find that Santa came to their house. The magic of Christmas is an invaluable gift to these children and their parents. Thank you for keeping the magic alive!

What: Email Jill Jachera to be matched with a family. Provide her with the following information:

1) Your current contact information (name, email and phone).

2) Size of family you wish to be matched with (small, medium, or large).

3) Gender preference of children, if you have one.

4) If you do not wish to adopt an entire family but would like to donate to the program; books, pajamas, hats, gloves, or money will be accepted. All items will be distributed to St. Nicholas families.

Click here for Program guidelines

How: All items MUST be dropped off on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 8 a.m.– 12 noon, at the Bramwell House of the YWCA on the corner of Rt. 206 and Paul Robeson Place.

Contact: Jill Jachera,

Participation in the Holiday Outreach Initiative is voluntary. Any contribution made to local organizations are on behalf of the individual donor(s), and should not be represented to outside agencies as a donation from Princeton University.

The Holiday Outreach Initiative is sponsored by the Office of Community and Regional Affairs, Office of Human Resources, Department of Athletics, the Graduate School, the Facilities Organization, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, Conference and Event Services, and Hoagie Haven.