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Weekend Fun for LA Kids: Wizard of Oz Panto, Beach Wonderland, Disney on Ice

We here at Mommy Poppins love all our events equally. The Christmas lightsthe boat paradesthe holiday-themed train rides. What's not to love? It's just that we love some a little more equally than others.

Like Disney on Ice. The touring ice show is the perfect match of world class athleticism and stunning artistry, paired with the most beloved characters known to childhood. Oh, how we love Disney on Ice.

And the Lythgoe Family Panto productions: Broadway caliber showmanship paired with absolute inability to take anything, least of all itself, seriously. Laughs and awestruck gasps and this year the Wizard of Oz played by, what now, Kermit the Frog?!? Hold me, Kermie, I think I may get the vapors!

Do we love the latest Disney Animation feature, breaking the internet and ruling the box office, currently holding strong as the favorite movie of all time in our household? Or do we love the (don't try to tell me it's not real) Virtual Reality experience that takes us INTO that movie, so that we are running with, talking to, and shooting milkshakes at our favorite characters from the movie because we are IN IT? How do we choose? Why should we? If there's one thing we've learned as mothers, it's that there is more than enough love to go around.

Keep reading for our choices for this weekend, all equally loved, including the ones that are loved more.

Where to Donate Kids' Clothes, Toys, and Gear Across NYC

With two adults and three kids in my family's typically small NYC apartment, the holiday season stresses me out. Not because of all the things I need to do, but because of all the extra "stuff" that I know is about to flood our home. That's why this is my favorite time of year to donate my kids' gently (or sometimes never!) used clothes, toys, books, and other items so we can free up some space, support worthy charities, and get the whole family in a giving mindset.

We've gathered details on several organizations where you can donate quality used items during the holidays and beyond. Be sure to contact the charities directly to confirm what they accept and how best to drop off. 

Where to Donate Gently Used Toys and Baby Gear on LI

If your kids are anything like most, their holiday wish lists are filled with requests for new toys. And once the holiday comes—and they're happily playing with their gifts—what do you do with all of the old toys that are cluttering up the house? Or all of the baby equipment that the kids have outgrown?

For safety reasons, fewer and fewer places seem to be accepting gently used toys. But before you put those toys out on the curb, consider these Long Island organizations that accept preowned toys and baby items provided they are clean, undamaged, and in working order.

For safety reasons, most charities do not accept cribs or car seats. However, many will accept strollers, bouncers, and even baby care items such as diapers. At this busy time of year, however, contact these charities to make sure they haven't reached their donation limits. One other tip: Ask your preschool child's school director, local library, or church. Often, those institutions are willing to accept used toys and books from someone they know and trust. 

Looking for more ways to help your community? There are plenty of holiday volunteer opportunities for kids and families. And for other seasonal activities, check out our Long Island holiday fun guide or these 30 things to do over holiday break with Long Island kids.

Holiday Volunteering Opportunities for Houston Families

Many children worry about whether they are on Santa’s naughty or nice list. One way to help your little elves feel confident about their spot on the nice list is to encourage them to volunteer. Volunteering as a family is a great way to teach children that the holidays are about more than just presents while also creating a meaningful family holiday tradition. The holiday season is a busy time for many families with so much shopping, cooking, and socializing to do, not to mention all the exciting winter festivals and other seasonal events, so we’ve rounded up a variety of easy ways your family can volunteer locally or through national organizations.

Where To Donate Toys for the Holidays: Toys for Tots, Spark of Love, and More

The holidays can be a particularly rough time to be in need, and this year's terrible fire season has put far more families in this position than usual. Showing our kids how the community rallies is important. We can make time to volunteer with our kids—a great holiday tradition—and kids can also experience the joy of giving by passing along some of last year's gifts, sharing the old with someone new before finding out what Santa delivers this season. When we pursue the parental thrill of buying super-cool toys, wrapping them, and making our kids' day on Christmas or Hanukkah, maybe we could add just one more for a child in need. We know of some great places to bring both kinds of toy donations—new and gently used—to spread around some of that holiday joy.

Fire Damage Update: Closures Affecting Los Angeles and Ventura County Families

As we approach Thanksgiving week, we are reminded of all we have to be grateful for, and perhaps much we have taken for granted in the past. Our wild, beautiful woodlands and coastline are the heart and soul of our city, but can also represent great vulnerability. Our hearts go out to all who have experienced loss in the last week.

According to the most recent reports, 98,362 acres have been burned by the Woolsey and fire, and 435 structures have been destroyed, with another 57,000 still listed as being in danger. Even in areas where the immediate risk of fire has passed there may still hazards due to debris, utility outages, and damaged infrastructure such as roadways and power lines.

Many venues were closed and whole communities evacuated during the fires, due to air quality, road accessibility, and continued fire risk. As our emergency responders get the flames under control, we can start to take stock of the damage that has been done.

Below we list the status of some popular locations in the affected area that may impact your family. We will update the list as we get more information.

22 Ways Families Can Volunteer and Donate in NYC for the Holidays

During the holiday season, families gather to enjoy delicious meals, exchange gifts, and celebrate the year gone by. But for many New Yorkers, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time. Volunteering is a wonderful way to help others in the community and an ideal opportunity to teach children the true spirit of the season.

We've rounded up some of our favorite kid-friendly volunteering opportunities. No matter where in the tri-state area you live, the age of your children, or your family's interests, chances are there is a program that can use your help.

Volunteering at Holiday Time: Fun Ways for LA Kids To Find Their Spirit of Giving

Sharing traditions with our children makes the holidays all the sweeter. The pies we bake, candles we light, songs we sing, and the gifts we give enrich the rhythm of this festive season. Volunteering to help those in need is another tradition we can offer to our kids. Giving our time and attention to our communities, whether we're dishing up food or singing Christmas carols, is often the best gift of all. And setting up our kids for a life of sharing and empathy is a gift we give to them and to the world they inherit.

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