Calling all Brooklyn gift-giving experts: Birch Family Services calls for toy and clothing donations, gift-wrapping volunteers

Kid with autism at Birch Family Servoces christmas gift drive
Birch Family Services is gathering gift and clothing donations for its holiday drive.
Photo courtesy of Birch Family Services

All I want for Christmas is you!

Birch Family Services, an organization that provides education and community support services for people with autism and developmental disabilities in New York City, is celebrating the season of giving with a toy and clothing drive for their community of children and young adults. Through December 15, the organization will be accepting toys for children ages 3-12, new and gently used winter clothing, and monetary donations that will go to the families they serve.

With the gifts Birch has gathered so far, the organization is also calling on volunteers to sort clothes, wrap gifts and write cards to ensure the gifts make a special holiday for children in need across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. Volunteers can join in on the festivities at Birch’s Manhattan headquarters. 

“They light up when they receive a gift or a coat” said Chief Development Officer, Samantha Nottingham.

Birch Family Services has provided education —from early childhood through age 21— as well as employment and services, including housing, to over 2,000 people across 31 locations across the city since 1975. In Brooklyn, Birch has residencies, early childhood centers and schools in Bushwick, Canarsie, East Flatbush and Old Mill Basin.

Birch family services adults with autism at christmas gift drive.
Birch offers education, job training, and more for people with autism and developmental disabilities. Photo courtesy of Birch Family Services

“The holidays can be a challenging time, especially for those living in the residencies, whose families have distanced themselves, so getting a card with their gift makes them feel like they are not alone, like they are seen.” said Nottingham. “It is easier for many people to feel empathy for the children, since they are full of hopes. It’s more complicated when it comes to the adults knowing that they are not going to get better from this disabilities.”

Birch received 500 gifts and clothing donations last year and distributed them among those who needed them the most. The organization is hoping to increase that number this season.

“Our staff, teachers, aides, and advocates give their passion and dedication throughout the year to create a vibrant community for those with autism and developmental disabilities,” said Matt Sturiale, CEO of Birch Family Services in a statement. “We are thankful to the greater New York community who also give this year and support our efforts either with donations or as volunteers during this season. Your contributions create meaningful memories for the individuals we serve.”

To participate in the toy and clothing drive, donations can be shipped to or dropped off directly on the 3rd floor of Birch Family Services offices at 104 West 29th St. in Manhattan Contributions through Amazon up until Dec. 15, can be made online.