At the office my wife worked (dental) they were cutting back on front staff hours and eventually eliminating one spot. The girl who took the hit was a single mom with 4 young kids, her husband ditched her and was no help what so ever and to top it off it was Close to Christmas. My wife talked to the others about kicking in some bucks to help her out, most did, but it wasn't much.
We were having a dinner at my parents with the whole family and my wife brought up the coworkers situation, she didn't mention taking up a collection, but my brother opened his wallet and gave DW a $100, then my parents and sisters did the same. When my wife went into work and put the money in the "pot" the rest of the staff was surprised that complete strangers would do that and it started a giving frenzy. The girl was able to give her kids presents and take care of a some bills too.