Many travelers to the area like to bring down gifts to give out in addition to tips, or donations for local families. 

Ideas for Children´s Toys & Adolescent Gifts
The only recommendation (and requirement, in the case of Give a Toy Get a Smile) is that toys please be new, not used. The toys needed are just the same as kids anywhere would love with a few exceptions. Battery operated toys are not requested (batteries are expensive and are unlikely to be replaced). The children helped here may not have electricity and may not even know what a PlayStation is, so toys that depend on electricity are also not required. Toys that have instructions in English are not recommended, as these children speak Spanish. The children range in age from six months to eighteen years in age.

Ideas for toys: trucks, dolls, Lego, dominoes, paints, crayons, perfume, nail polish, hair ribbons or accessories, coloring books, sports balls, make-up kits, a diary, inexpensive jewelry, Nerf toys, pocketbooks, wallets, Barbie dolls, water guns, marbles, Matchbox cars, blocks, stuffed animals, clothing (again, new please).
Ideas for School Supplies backpacks, notebooks, assignment pads, pencils, pens, markers, erasers, crayons, pencil sharpeners, stickers.

Give a Toy, Get a Smile 
This local organization, based in Cancun with additional drop off stations in Playa del Carmen (The Blue Pearl Suites) and Tulum (Cabanas Copal), accepts toys and school supplies year-round for local children. Toys are now being received for the April delivery for Children's Day, and backpacks with school supplies for distribution in August for the new school year.

KKIS (Keeping Kids in School)

The KKIS Project is a registered non-profit here in Playa del Carmen. Their goal is to provide school supplies for indigent children and to provide English lessons to public school children. Travelers are encouraged to bring school supplies with you or purchase some here in Playa and donate them to KKIS. Next August KKIS plans to give away as many as 1000 bags of school supplies. Here is the list of what is needed most: 12 and 24 pks of colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors, and markers. Please no crayons or notebooks...these items are either not used or need specific ones purchased by KKIS. If bringing or purchasing items isn't an option, please make a donation at ( Email when you get here ( and the KKIS staff will pick up your donation or tell you where to take it. And thanks for thinking about the kids!!

Hekab Be Library in Akumal:
What they need most:
Time - consider donating an afternoon to help with various projects (painting, organizing space, checking in books, etc.). Contact Maggie to plan a time:
Money - while last year was one of the best so far in terms of meeting the library's financial needs, please remember that monetary donations are the only thing that helps pay the bills and other library expenses. The budget is modest, but still requires cash flow. No government funds or money from other sources are received.
Old clothes - gently used clothing for teens, children & infants is needed.

"Giving Back to the Locals" at The Mayan Village

This local tour operator or private tour guide is suggesting all customers visiting the Riviera Maya to bring school supplies, toys or second hand clothes to be delivered during the tour at the Mayan Village or the Library in Akumal. All of the tours are private and customized so you can decide to donate or not on your tour. Look at the pictures, you will be in love with the kids and they will love your visit!

Old clothes from your home, check your closet for the shirts and shorts your children are not wearing anymore - gently used clothing for teens, children & infants is needed. 

Also School supplies such as backpacks, notebooks, assignment pads, pencils, pens, markers, erasers, crayons, pencil sharpeners, stickers. Second hand toys in good shape are also welcome.

Thanks for taking the time to think about it! 

Taller Cero in Tulum:

This group supports the Taller Cero arts workshop in Tulum. This is a non profit - donation run Creative workshop for young kids and young adults. Twice a week they open the palapa roof building and run art classes, theater, library, chess, and more. They also teach pattern making and other fabric arts in hopes that some can earn a living with this knowledge. Bringing donations of Books written in Spanish for kids and young adults is preferred, rather than money donations. Spanish books for children are very expensive in Mexico to buy. Story books, song books, picture books etc. would be so welcomed.

Cruz Roja Mexicana Playa del Carmen Delegation

The Mexican Red Cross is a Public Assistance Institution devoted mostly to offer Emergency medical services to the most vulnerable part of the community.

In the Playa del Carmen Delegation there are 4 Main areas:

Medical Services

Family Doctor, 3 MD's in staff that offer medical consultations for very small donation fee (paid only if the patient can) that see an average of 50 patients a day, most of them children.  X Ray services, ultrasound, and lab services at a very low cost.

There are 2 nurses that take of checkups and other services like nebulizations, injections or IV's.

Emergency Medical Response

5 ambulances and one Urban rescue unit responds to a population of over 250 K and is responsible for highway accidents, and all traffic incidents, as well as medical emergencies responding to 114 or 065 the equivalent to the U.S. 911 emergency response service. Most people in Mexico are not insured and the social security  clinic in Playa does not have an ambulance, so the Red Cross takes care of most Emergency Response Medical Services in the Area assisting the Government and their institutions with this essential service  that works too in case of disasters like the last hurricanes Wilma and Emily which affected the area.

Juventud and Volunteers

This being an area that is growing, the Youth section of the Red Cross trains young children and teenagers on basic first aid, and carries out activities throughout the year to get them involved in social work and community action in the areas of taking care and helping old people, environmental awareness and participation on existing programs and  all other social activities that will benefit the community and region.


Playa del Carmen has an Emergency Medical Technician school that offers training to aspiring EMT volunteers following international guidelines of the Red Cross and Half Moon standards. Off house ongoing permanent training on first aid and crash courses on emergency response to schools, hotels, public in general involving the community in permanent training and awareness to prevent and better handle the first response to medical emergencies or accidents in the workplace, at home or on the road.

The Red Cross depends solely on donations from Private Entities and individuals to offer this vital service to the community, at no cost, It is a growing delegation in urgent need of a small clinic since the Playa del Carmen area only has 13 beds of public assistance for a population of over 250,000.  Red Cross is also building a delegation in Tulum to make the emergency response time more efficient for that city and the surrounding areas and hotels.

Thank you for your kind consideration to this very worthy cause and if you wish to make a donation to the Mexican Red Cross, Playa del Carmen delegation  you can visit the Red Cross, in Avenida Juarez / corner avenida 25, and talk to Horacio Moreno. or e mail at  

Thank you in advance for your kind consideration and contribution, hope you and your family stay in good health and  best wishes

Animal Charities

There are several animal charities in Playa del Carmen who work to spay, neuter and find homes for the many stray animals in this area.  

Playa Animal Rescue (PAR)

Dedicated to rescuing and finding permanent homes for injured and abandoned dogs and cats. The shelter is located in Playa del Carmen, heart of the Riviera Maya in Mexico. 

All of the animals receive quality care by a live-in veterinary Dr. and special attention to ensure that they are healthy, happy and ready to be adopted into a loving home.

There are many  pets waiting for the right home. Even if you don't live in the Playa del Carmen area, it's a simple matter to bring your Playa pet back home to the U.S. or many other countries. The shelter staff will be happy to help you coordinate the process.

The shelter is run totally on the donations of their supporters and receive no government assistance. Tax deductable donations can be made at their website.

Every Saturday Wash Day is held, where the shelter invites the public to come interact with the friendly animals of Playa Animal Shelter. It has become quiet the event attended by locals and tourist traveling in the area. An absolute must for animal lovers traveling in the Mayan Riviera region to attend.

For more information go to or contact them at email:


SOS el Arca 

With the highest adoption rate in Playa del Carmen, SOS el Arca is the oldest continually run shelter in the area.  Sylvie and her volunteer staff work closely with the local government and local veterinarians to provide quality care for the abandoned animals who end up at the perrera (dog pound) and on the streets.

SOS is a a non profit dog shelter which is completely privately funded,  with no  government financial support.  They rescue and rehabilitate dogs from the street and local dog pound, where they catch and kill dogs in three days. Their main objective is to rescue and find good homes for dogs that have been abandoned, wounded  abused, etc… They are a no kill shelter; their dogs are with them until they find permanent homes. 

The shelter is run totally on the donations of their supporters.  They receive no other help.  Tax deductable donations and sponsorships can be made on their website.

SOS holds weekly dog washes and walks and encourages volunteers to come and participate at anytime.  They are located just behind the Bomberos station (fire department) on highway 307 - a short walk from the hotel zone.

They have many, many loving dogs for adoption.  They can easily help you with cross-border adoptions, as well.

You can find more information at  or by calling +52 984 132 0583.  They also can be found on Facebook at