TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hope Villages of America has launched a unique way to help others in the community this season with a “reverse advent calendar.”

Instead of receiving something in the days leading up to Christmas, the Clearwater nonprofit is asking for community members to donate goods to those in need with a “reverse advent calendar.”

The effort began on Dec. 1 and will continue through Christmas Eve. Community members can grab a box and add a new item each day throughout the month, then drop it off at Hope Villages of America’s food bank, located at 700 Druid Road in Clearwater, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Dec. 30.

“It’s an opportunity for really brands, families, coworkers, even be a little competitive, but we ask everybody to set aside a box at the start of December, then each day add a nonperishable item to the box all the way up through Christmas Eve…” said Kirk Ray Smith, president and CEO of Hope Villages of America.

The nonprofit has listed “items on the day” online, which include boxed potatoes, canned fruit, boxes of cereal, chicken noodle soup, cans of mixed vegetables and more.

“So the neat thing with the reverse advent calendar is that it’s kind of a daily reminder to put others first and to provide hope for the holidays so it’s a really great opportunity for kids to get involved, and really understand what it means to give back each and every day,” said Melinda Perry, Chief Operating and Administration Officer. 

The items on the list aren’t specific and families can donate what they can, chief communication officer Jonita Lewis said.

“So these are items that we typically don’t get a lot of, so we’re usually down, our stock is pretty low on these items. So we want to make sure we get a nice amount, but folks are not limited to this. You know, if they don’t have a can of corn, we’ll take green beans,” she said.

Lewis said the response during the holiday season is different, and more people donate food and money, but efforts go far beyond the holiday.

“But what happens is, come January, there’s usually a shortage of both. Because again, the generosity is sort of scaled back, but the need continues to increase,” said Smith. “When we get to January, that’s where efforts like this are so critical, because that helps us replenish and that gives us a strong start to the year, because we start to see all of the requests [pile] up, so whether it’s around domestic violence, whether it’s a housing situation, food insecurity, we see the need increase at the start of every year, because people kind of wait until after the holidays, and then we start to hear more and more.” 

Hope Villages of America can also supply those in need, wanting to do a food drive, with a barrel, for collections.

You can learn more about all of Hope Villages of America’s efforts by going online.