(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

As the remaining shopping days dwindle and items are checked off holiday wish lists for friends and loved ones, it’s important to also remember those in need during this season of giving. Before the stockings are hung by the chimney with care and the platter of milk and cookies is laid out for Santa’s arrival, there is still a handful of days left to bring some holiday cheer to children and families who might otherwise go without. Between simple “click-of-the-mouse” online contributions to personally delivered new toys, a holiday gift donation is one of the best expressions of the true meaning of the season. Atlanta abounds with hundreds of amazing and worthy non-profit organizations who accept gift donations for the people they serve, but – given the short time left to share the holiday spirit – CBSAtlanta.com has narrowed the list down to five of the best places to make holiday gift donations in the days leading up to Christmas.
Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive
Multiple Burlington Coat Factory Locations Throughout Georgia

In its sixth year of the Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive, Burlington Coat Factory once again partners with “Good Morning America” and non-profit organization One Warm Coat® as they ask customers to “Give a Coat, Share the Warmth!” As thanks for bringing a gently used coat to the customer service desk at one of the national retailer’s Georgia locations, donors will receive 10 percent off their entire purchase at Burlington Coat Factory. Donated coats should have functioning zippers and/or buttons and should be free of stains or tears. It’s time to clean out those closets and give a gift that keeps giving as the temperatures drop over the coming months.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
1405 Clifton Road N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30329
(404) 785-6000

Scottish Rite
1001 Johnson Ferry Road N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 785-5252

Hughes Spalding
35 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive S.E.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 785-9500

The always wonderful Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta network of hospitals and urgent care centers is dedicated to making all 365 days of the year merry and bright for the children and families it serves. To that end, the three hospitals accept donations of unwrapped toys for their pint-sized patients in their lobbies year-round. Toys and gifts may also be purchased through the hospital’s virtual wish list. Given the hustle and bustle of the season paired with the regular demands of an award-winning hospital system, they cannot guarantee that all toys donated between now and Christmas Eve will make it into the arms of a child by Christmas morning. However, there are other ways for generous donors to give and know that their gift will be enjoyed long after the mistletoe has wilted. Monetary contributions to Children’s help assure that they are able to give more than half a million patients each year the best care possible, and through Share With Children’s, caring contributors can give patients something they need the most – hope. By sending a free message of well wishes through the Share With Children’s website, not only will it be displayed throughout the hospital on closed-circuit TVs during the last two weeks of 2012 for all the patients to see, but for every message sent, The Verizon Foundation will donate $3 to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (up to $30,000).

Related: Best Holiday Volunteer Opportunities for the Family in Atlanta

American Kidney Services
Multiple Value Village and drop-off locations throughout Atlanta
(770) 872-4260

Not all families can afford to make a monetary contribution or purchase new items to donate to local charities during the holiday season. American Kidney Services offers a wonderful opportunity to give without having to dig deep into the family pocketbook or even leave home. This non-profit organization collects used toys, clothing and other household goods which are then sold through Value Village thrift stores. Proceeds from the sale of these items benefit American Kidney Services and the American Kidney Fund to help make a difference in the lives of people who suffer from kidney disease. By cleaning out the closets, basement, playroom and garage, donors are not only helping to stock the shelves of local thrift stores in time for the Christmas rush, but the profits from their sale will help fund transportation to dialysis appointments and cover healthcare costs. Donors can deliver the items through AKS drop boxes, donation centers or Value Village locations, or call to schedule a complimentary pick-up of their donations between now and Christmas Eve.

Marine Toys for Tots Foundation
Multiple Toys “R”® Us locations throughout Georgia

In its 65th year, the proud tradition that is the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves Toys for Tots lives on in its mission to deliver new toys to needy children in time for Christmas. For those who wish to take part in this time-honored holiday institution, Toys “R”® Us locations throughout Georgia will be accepting monetary contributions and donations of unwrapped toys through December 24 to benefit Toys for Tots. Donors can also make a monetary or toy donation from the comfort of their own home on the Toys “R” Us website.

Related: Easy Steps to Prep Your Home for Holiday Guests

Atlanta Day Shelter for Women & Children, Inc.
655 Ethel St. N.W.
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 876-2894

During last year’s Christmas project, the Atlanta Day Shelter was able to prepare and distribute more than 1,700 holiday gift bags – over 1,000 of those went to homeless children in Atlanta. This year, it hopes to do even more and is asking for donations of new and unwrapped items that run the gamut from basic essentials and clothing to gift cards and toys. The Atlanta Day Shelter wish list is available to view on its website. Monetary donations are also graciously accepted and much appreciated to help nearly 100 homeless women and children the shelter serves on a daily basis year-round.

Kasie Bolling is a freelance writer covering all things Atlanta. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.