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Grand Giving

Greater Orlando is home to some of the best charitable nonprofit organizations that make a difference every day…

For many of us, the holiday season signifies celebration as we gather with our family and friends to mark joyous occasions. But for those less fortunate, this time of year can be a harsh reminder of the challenges and struggles they too often face. In the spirit of the holiday season, Orlando Family Magazine wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the local nonprofits who offer a glimmer of hope when there appears to be none. There are 20 area organizations that are driven by the selfless need to contribute in positive ways to our community while touching several lives along the way.

A GIFT FOR TEACHING 
Their mission is a simple one; to provide free school supplies to the teachers with children who would otherwise go without. A Gift for Teaching partners with several businesses and nonprofits in our city to redistribute excess supplies to children who need it most. Today, they service over 300 public schools and institutions across three counties.
Orlando
(407) 318-3123
AGiftForTeaching.org

AUTISM SOCIETY OF GREATER ORLANDO 
The Autism Society of Greater Orlando (ASGO) was founded in 1996 by a group of impassioned parents directly affected by this condition who shared the desire to address a growing need for support. These same individuals developed this organization into what it is today; a large network aimed at providing quality care and resources for those on the autism spectrum in fields of family support, awareness, advocacy and education.
Orlando
(407) 855-0235
ASGO.org

BACK TO NATURE WILDLIFE REFUGE 
Founded in 1989, Carmen M. Shaw is the brainchild behind this organization, and her love for animals has resulted in the creation of what is now the largest public wildlife nonprofit in the Central Florida region. Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge now sits on 20 protected acres of conversation land and proudly rescues and rehabilitates several thousands of animals each year.
Orlando
(407) 568-5138
BTNWildlife.org

BEST BUDDIES OF CENTRAL FLORIDA 
Now operating on an International level, Best Buddies of Central Florida works diligently to foster personal and professional relationships between those with developmental disabilities and those without, and they have an extensive list of programs that tackle the barriers and create benefits for both sides of these partnerships. Servicing the communities that deal with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, Williams syndrome, fragile X, cranial traumas and more, Best Buddies of Central Florida aims to end the isolation that surrounds individuals who are differently abled.
Orlando
(407) 898-0787
BestBuddies.org/Florida

CLEAN THE WORLD FOUNDATION 
What started as a passing observation about the leftover bathroom soaps in hotel rooms has now grown into a global nonprofit that has achieved the impossible; Clean the World reduces waste in the hospitality sector and addresses hygienic needs across the globe all at once. An organization that has yet to reach its 10-year mark, Clean the World now collects soaps, conditioners, shampoos and lotions from participating hospitality partners, recycles them into new items, and donates them directly to impoverished groups in developing countries and domestic shelters in our very own backyard.
Orlando
(407) 574-8353
CleanTheWorld.org

COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS OF CENTRAL FLORIDA 
Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida has become a community beacon of hope in tackling the need for accessible housing. Founded in 1987, this organization helps transform families experiencing homelessness by providing critical stability, education and training at a time when it is needed most. Coalition for the Homeless serves several hundred men and women in need of their services each night; in addition to training, they provide food, shelter, childcare and counseling for all in need.
Orlando
(407) 426-1256
CentralFloridaHomeless.org

DEVEREUX ADVANCED BEHAVIORAL HEALTH 
Afull-service wellness organization, Devereux has been proudly serving the Central Florida community for over 25 years. They have created specialized service methods for addressing child welfare, mental health, disabilities and other challenges that plague families of today. They now operate in several dozen counties across the state and their efforts include inpatient psychiatric programs, foster care initiatives, counseling and case management efforts and community-based care. Their mission is guided by six principles: compassion, knowledge, collaboration, dedication, learning and progress.
Orlando
(800) 338-3738, ext. 77130
Devereux.org

FREEDOM RIDE 
The founders behind the nonprofit organization Freedom Ride believe the best therapy comes atop four very, very large legs. Founded in 1998, Freedom Ride helps all individual with disabilities in Central Florida regain muscle strength, posture, balance and a sense of accomplishment and confidence through affordable partnered riding with their very special horses on property.
Orlando
(407) 293-0411
FreedomRide.com

GIRLS ON THE RUN 
Alocally founded organization, Girls on the Run fosters positivity through the creation of a community service project for young girls to participate in and the rewards of a fun 5K upon completion. This unique formula allows girls a true opportunity to learn responsibility, overcome barriers, manage emotions, create purpose, build confidence and give back to their community, all while having fun and being active every step of the way. Girls on the Run accomplishes all of this through a 10-week program that spotlights kindness and inclusivity and demonstrates all that is possible when girls come together.
Winter Park
(407) 896-1160, ext. 101
GOTROrlando.org

GUYS WITH TIES 
A local nonprofit that was founded by an outstanding group of young professionals, Guys with Ties is redefining what it means to invest in our community. Today, their organization is comprised of over 70 volunteers from boards and ambassadors in a variety of fields including real estate, marketing, entertainment, health care, hospitality and beyond. Their accomplishments include partnerships with several dozen local nonprofits and volunteer work that has amounted to over 150,000 hours.
Orlando
(844) 777-8437
GuysWithTies.org

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY OF GREATER ORLANDO 
Atitle that has become a household name, Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to improving housing across the board by putting in the labor themselves; this organization advocates for fair policies, constructs new homes and rehabilitates existing housing at every turn. They also serve as a community source for resources, training and equal access. A central guiding principle is what keeps their goal alive: Every man, woman and child has the right to a dignified life in safe, quality, affordable housing.
Orlando
(407) 648-4567
Habitat-Orlando.org

LIGHTHOUSE CENTRAL FLORIDA 
Vision loss is often labeled as an item that is frequently experienced but widely overlooked, but Lighthouse Central Florida is working hard to change that reality. Stemming from a vital notion surrounding the needs of the Sunshine State’s aging population, Lighthouse Central Florida now has programs to help all individuals experiencing all degrees of vision loss. Today, they offer assistance with medical costs, proven rehabilitation training, volunteer opportunities, specially themed events, community walks and more with the hope that those affected will continue to maintain a confident and dignified role in their community.
Orlando
(407) 898-2483
LighthouseCFL.org

MOTHER’S MILK BANK OF FLORIDA 
Becoming a new parent is an exciting time in the lives of women, but oftentimes complications with natural feeding arise and a need for breast milk becomes imminent. Led by a team of dedicated females, Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida screens applicants for donations, collects viable milk, processes and pasteurizes all product and redistributes it to infants in need across the state.
Orlando
(407) 248-5050
MilkBankOfFlorida.org

NATHANIEL’S HOPE 
It’s difficult to turn a nearly unspeakable tragedy into an opportunity to be selfless, but Marie and Tim Kuck used their faith in God and family devotion to do exactly that. After losing their child, Nathaniel, to severe birth anomalies several years ago, they turned their attention to the creation of a charity that would both honor his legacy and provide resources to special needs children. Today, Nathaniel’s Hope has several different programs that provide caring support to these children and their families through birthday and Christmas programs, buddy activities, family outings, special events, annual parties and more.
Orlando
(407) 857-8224
NathanielsHope.org

RUNWAY TO HOPE 
Runway to Hope has partnered with Central Florida’s three largest hospitals to provide support, assistance, and most importantly, hope to families who are battling pediatric cancer. A valuable service to our community, the organization leads the way in collaborative efforts among businesses and philanthropists to achieve funding and awareness for medical costs and future research initiatives. What’s more—they also provide food, housing, transportation assistance and fun fashion events to bring light to those who need it most.
Orlando
(407) 802-1544
RunwayToHope.org

RUSSELL HOME FOR ATYPICAL CHILDREN 
Inspired by the legacy of Grandma Russell, the Russell Home for Atypical Children is a safe haven for children suffering with brain damage who are without parents nor dedicated individuals to assist in their care. The home has opened its doors many times since its inception in 1951, and the current caretakers are determined to continue this way for many years to come. Today, the Russell Home for Atypical Children offers a sprawling environment filled with nurseries, dorms, play areas, living and dining spaces, and a laundry room and kitchen, all for the care and keeping of every child.
Orlando
(407) 855-8063
RussellHome.org

SECOND HARVEST FOOD BANK 
Partnering with over an impressive 500 local allies, Second Harvest Food Bank has distributed over 52 million meals to food pantries, abuse shelters, soup kitchens, day care centers and more since their inception. Now, their efforts have expanded to include a culinary training program that allows participants to be placed in fair-wage jobs upon completion.
Orlando
(407) 295-1066
FeedHopeNow.org

THE WAY HOME RESCUE 
The need for quality, dependable animal services remains a constant one in our city, but The Way Home Rescue has found a way to do their part in rehabilitating and rehoming cats and kittens who have lost their way. Their success comes in part from their business model; they are not a shelter, but rather a network of volunteers who provide foster homes to felines in need. Through the loving generosity of these individuals, cats and kittens are rescued, spayed/neutered and given a warm environment in which to thrive before reaching their “fur”ever home.
Orlando
(407) 405-3701
TheWayHomeRescue.org

UNITED ARTS OF CENTRAL FLORIDA 
Founded in 1989, this nonprofit enriches our community through the investment in all forms of science, art and history. Since its inception, United Arts of Central Florida has raised over $145 million and invested these dollars into over 70 local organizations that provide unique art and cultural experiences.
Maitland
(407) 628-0333
UnitedArts.cc

ZEBRA COALITION 
Zebra Coalition is a community- wide partnership of government organizations, schools, churches and other corporations that share the common goal of helping local at-risk LGBTQ+ youth. This coalition is as diverse as their name suggests; they assist in a variety of issues including bullying, homelessness, drug abuse, sexual abuse, isolation matters and more. The Zebra Coalition now proudly provides everything from drop-in activity centers, emergency housing, mental and medical resources and counseling to clothing, food, and transportation and employment assistance.
Orlando
(407) 399-0774
ZebraYouth.org

This article originally appeared in Orlando Family Magazine’s November 2017 issue.

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