Most of us are able to spend Christmas surrounded by family and friends, with full bellies and overflowing stockings. However, others face an array of challenges that keep them from enjoying the comfort and joy of the holiday season. But there are plenty of ways to help our neighbors and share our blessings. Here are 8 of them:

1. Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child, a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, provides shoeboxes filled with supplies to local distributors for children outside of the United States affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine and disease. Locations in Sneads Ferry, Richlands and Jacksonville will accept filled boxes during the week of Nov. 14-21, and also have boxes set up to accept items outside of those dates. Donations of items like toothpaste, deodorant, soap, socks, knit hats or scarves, travel size games of checkers, a deck of cards, and small children’s books are suggested. Organizers also request a $7 donation to help with shipping costs. The locations include Richlands First Baptist, 100 Rand St. in Richlands; New River Community Church of God, 117 Wheeler Creek Road in Sneads Ferry; and New River Baptist Association, 2734 Commerce Road in Jacksonville. Find more information at NewRiverBA.com.

2. Reverse advent calendar

Each day from Dec. 1-24 add a nonperishable item to a box and on Christmas Eve, donate the contents to a local foodbank, like The Salvation Army of Jacksonville. Donations to them can be delivered to their foodbank located at 535 Bell Fork Road on Dec. 27, as they will be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas. For more information, visit Facebook.com/TSAJacksonvilleNC/.

3. Christmas Cheer

Onslow Community Outreach’s Christmas Cheer accepts donations of toys, food, and money through the last week of December. Toy donations will be accepted most days 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. Their greatest need is toys for boys and girls ages 10 to 12. Onslow Community Outreach also needs canned meats and staples for families and the elderly to stretch their food pantry. Monetary donations are also significant, since they allow the organization to purchase specific items that are needed to help fill the gaps for children and families. For more information, visit OnslowCO.org/CC.

4. Onslow County Animal Shelter

The local animal shelter can use items like Purina Kitten Chow, KMR brand kitten formula, Clorox bleach original formula, grain-free dog and puppy food, high-quality dog and cat treats, nylabones for dogs, and assorted cat toys. For a full wish list, visit OnslowCountyNC.gov/Departments/Animal-Services/Donate/.

5. Onslow County Women’s Shelter

The Onslow County Women’s Shelter helps support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The shelter can use donations of grocery items, office supplies, household items, children’s supplies, gift cards, bus passes and professional services. The full list is at onslowwc.org/owc-wish-list. The OWC thrift store Finders Keepers is in need of items like clear packing tape, zip ties, price tags for clothing, receipt tape, cleaning supplies and more. For the full wish list, visit OnslowWC.org/thrift-store-wish-list.

6. Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots for Onslow County will be collected at Christmas Cheer, 600 Court St. in Jacksonville. For more information, visit Camp-Lejune-NC.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx.

7. Elder Cheer

Elder Cheer accepts donations to help residents living in assisted living facilities in the county. Along with monetary donations to buy personalized gifts for some residents, they accept items like large print books, toothbrushes, combs, large print puzzles/word find books, bedroom slippers, small warm blankets and more. Donations are accepted until Dec. 2 at the Onslow County Dept. of Social Services located at 1915 Onslow Drive Ext. For more information and a full wish list, visit OnslowCountyNC.gov/departmentnopb100.aspx?id=20931.

8. Food drives

• Skubinna Home Medical of Swansboro is accepting non-perishable items for needy, local residents. They plan to distribute the food near Thanksgiving and Christmas. Items may be dropped off at 672 W. Corbett Ave. in Swansboro Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Their collection deadline is Dec. 21. For more information, call 910-325-1300.

• Smoothie King of Jacksonville is hosting a canned food drive this month to help support the Onslow County Soup Kitchen. Receive a free 20-ounce Angel Food Smoothie for every 5 canned goods donated through Nov. 30. All donations will go to the Soup Kitchen.