BATON ROUGE, la. (BRPROUD)– Gas prices are still high, and when coupled with the increasing costs of groceries, many families find themselves making every effort possible to stretch a dollar.

Ascension Parish is working hard to make sure families in need enjoy a great Christmas.

For example, an Ascension-based nonprofit called Heavens Care is hosting its second annual Spirit of Giving Toy Drive.     

This year, the charity is assisting even more families than it helped in 2021.

They’re asking you for your help as they try to provide individuals without homes and less fortunate families a magical Christmas experience.

“The last family we helped, their dad died. So the mom, who has been supporting them, you know, she was a little low [on money]. And just to see the smiles on their faces… it was amazing,” said Heavens Care Director, Danyell Henriques.

Henriques holds stories like this close to her heart. She operates Heaven’s Care, and connects people without homes with much-needed resources.

“We have no shelter out here, a lot of times, if and when I have the extra funding from donations because I’m 100% donation based, I’ll put them in a non-congregate shelter,” she said. “But that’s only for like maybe at the most a week.”

She says she has partners with the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office, but the homeless population in the state has grown.

“Last year it was over 2,900. This year it is over 3,000. It is closer to 3,200,” Henriques noted.

This Christmas, the nonprofit says it’s going above and beyond. They plan to collect more gifts for families who have fallen on hard times.

“I’m not just getting the response from the homeless, but I’m getting a response from the community as well,” she expressed.

They’re accepting donations through December 15. They encourage things like hygiene items, blankets, clothes, or fun gifts children can play with such as Marvel masks or art kits.

“We have them fill out a form. Then, they’ll fill out a wish list of three things that they want the most and our donors donate,” she explained. “And on a day in December, right before Christmas, we give out all the gifts and the parents come and pick them up.”

Henriques said even one toy can make the biggest difference.

“Giving back always touches the heart. It inspires you more than you can ever imagine,” she stated.

You can drop off your donation in-person or use their Wishlist.

To fill out an online application click here.

To drop off donations in-person, visit Heavens Care, which is located at 12484 Louisiana HWY 44 Gonzalez, La.

Click here to visit their Wishlist.