FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – In the midst of the pandemic, North Texas nonprofits are preparing to provide holiday cheer for people and families in need.

“We are a bit worried about it,” said Emily Hancock with SafeHaven of Tarrant County, which provides services for survivors of domestic violence and operates two emergency shelters.

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COVID-19 has increased demand for services for SafeHaven and many other North Texas nonprofits, but has made typical fundraising efforts more difficult.

“For a lot of our clients, they leave with nothing,” Hancock said. “They have the clothes on their back and maybe a small bag with things like their social security card, birth certificates.”

This year, instead of giving families Thanksgiving meal baskets packed with favorite foods, they’re asking people to donate grocery store gift cards.

SafeHaven’s annual toy drive is going virtual, too with Amazon wish lists instead of in-person collection.

“It all adds up,” Hancock said. “If everyone just buys one thing off the list, we can make sure everyone at SafeHaven has a really happy holiday.”

Time-honored traditions like the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign and the Angel Tree program will continue as well, just with a few changes the organization plans to announce next month.

“It will be a different Christmas, a different holiday season, but it will be magical nonetheless,” said Kit Sawers, President of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.

The park plans to host multiple tree lightings throughout the month of December, instead of one big holiday event, to space out the crowds and to give more opportunities for families to enjoy free holiday programming.

The North Texas Food Bank will get a portion of the proceeds, too.

“It’s important for the park to give back, though we’re a nonprofit ourselves, and partner with those who are directly affected by COVID,” Sawers said.

Nonprofits say they’re adapting to these uncertain times the best they can, but they still rely on the generosity of others to truly help those in need.

“I think we all continue to be amazed and impressed with the generosity of this community and the understanding this community has of how great the need is,” said Susan Swan Smith, the Chief Giving Day Officer at Communities Foundation of Texas.

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In September, North Texas Giving Day raised nearly $59 million for 3,000 nonprofits in the Metroplex.

Smith says she thinks it’s an indication people will respond when nonprofits put out the call for their holiday and year-end fundraising efforts.

“Since North Texas Giving Day, we’ve had more companies and organizations reach out to us to see if we can help them with their year-end giving drives, help them choose nonprofits to support or even help facilitate their employee giving,” she said. “We’re hearing from more organizations and earlier than we usually do, so that gives me hope too.”

By the second of week of November, people can click here for a list of holiday volunteer opportunities.

If you’re interested in helping SafeHaven, they are currently accepting grocery store gift cards.

Purchase a gift card to your favorite local grocer and mail to SafeHaven at: SafeHaven of Tarrant County, Attn: Lindsay Edwards, 1010 N. Center St., Arlington, TX 76011

Donors can also purchase a Kroger gift card online and e-deliver it to

Beginning Monday, Nov. 2, community members can support SafeHaven’s two Christmas programs, Santa Sack and Adopt-A-Family.

Click here to access the Amazon wish list link.

Once there, donors can select their favorite gifts, purchase online, and have the presents delivered directly to SafeHaven in time for Christmas.

For more information on Adopt-a-Family information and gift needs, donors can contact Lindsay Edwards at


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Caroline Vandergriff