Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season
There are so many fun holiday festivities happening this time of year, from picking out decorations and gifts, to caroling and baking treats to enjoy with your loved ones. Why not make one of your holiday traditions include volunteering or supporting a charity that is close to your heart? The holidays are all about giving, so here are some ways to give back this season that you can work around your busy schedule and what’s in your wallet!
If you want to find ways to give close to home, here are some ways you can get involved, right in your own community:
Local Food Banks & Soup Kitchens
Did you know that about 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table? Since the holidays are a time when families and loved ones get together to share a meal and be merry, food drives are abundant during this time of year in hopes of helping prevent members of our communities from missing out on these precious memories.
Organizations such as food pantries and soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers, especially when there is an influx of donations from holiday food drives. If you’re short on time, consider donating to a food drive near you (a guide to donating food can be found here). However, if you’re looking to get hands-on, food pantries always need volunteers to help with tasks such as unloading and sorting food donations, distributing food to clients, picking up and loading new food donations, and cleaning up after the fact. These are just some of the important tasks YOU could be assisting with, while also changing the lives of your neighbors in need.
If you live in or near a major city, chances are you’ve seen the alarming increase in the homeless population over the past couple of years. In the city of Denver alone, there are over 5,300 homeless. As the temperatures drop, it’s the perfect time to get out and volunteer to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Call or visit your local homeless shelter to find out ways you can get involved in areas such as serving meals, ministry outreach, shopping for supplies, and so much more. How you volunteer all depends on your interests and the talents you have that can best help you serve those in need.
If you’ve never participated in an Adopt-a-Family program before, here’s how it works:
Once you’ve found an organization that is holding an Adopt-a-Family program and sign up to take part in it, you’ll be matched with a family. You will then receive a list of things in which that particular family has asked for this year, along with each family member’s clothing sizes and age. The items on their list can be “wish list” items like electronics, toys, or make-up, or necessities they may not be able to afford, such as toiletries, clothes, or food. There’s no set spending minimum or maximum when you adopt a family, but some people choose to donate Target, Wal-Mart and other grocery store gift cards rather than adopting a whole family and shopping for each individual family member.
If you’re located in the Denver area and are looking to Adopt-a-Family, Catholic Charities of Denver organizes a program each year around the holidays, connecting those who want to make a difference in our community with a struggling family. Learn about how you can sign up and join the Adopt-a-Family program here, and watch the clip below to learn more.
If you are located in the Denver metro area like us, here are a few local shelters, food banks, and other non-profits you can volunteer with this holiday season:
“Denver Rescue Mission is changing lives in the name of Christ by meeting people at their physical and spiritual points of need with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens.”
“The mission of St. Francis Center is to reveal God’s love for humanity by providing a safe place for people who are homeless in Metro Denver to meet their basic needs for day-to-day survival while offering them assistance to transition out of homelessness.”
Hunger Free Colorado exists to end hunger in Colorado. Their vision:
Nutritious food is understood as a basic human right.
“We help families thrive by efficiently procuring and distributing food and essentials to the hungry through our programs and partner agencies.” Their vision: Make food security a reality for every Colorado family.
Do you want to give back this holiday season, but worry that money is too tight? Here are a few low-cost (or free), easy ways to give, right from the comfort of your own home:
On that same note, Toy Drives are a great way to give back to your community and make someone’s holiday great this year. Many families struggle to find the money to pay for a nice holiday meal on top of bills and other every day expenses. Because of this, presents under the tree (sometimes even a tree at all) just aren’t doable. Similar to Coat Drives, donate your own gently used toys, or buy a new toy (or multiple!) to donate to a family in your community. Do a little research to find out where you can drop your toys off to be donated this year and make a difference in a family’s holiday this year.
We all have that closet in the hall that’s overflowing with old snow gear that everyone outgrew years ago. Maybe you have storage bins full of old boots, hats, scarves, gloves, etc. that no one’s used in ages. The holidays are the perfect time to rid your house of the winter clothing items you’ve retired and give them to people in your community who would be extremely grateful to have them. The next time you have a snow day or just a little extra time, use it to sort through your old winter items and determine what you want to keep and what to give to those in need. Many places such as Salvation Army, schools, and various local businesses hold Coat Drives (despite the name, they will usually accept any winter gear, not just coats) to collect these items for those in need this holiday season. Consider giving back to your community while also doing yourself a favor and clearing out some closet space!
Gifts That Give Back
Since you’re already going to be buying gifts this holiday season, why not give your loved ones an awesome gift while also donating to important charities and causes? Basically, a portion of the proceeds from your purchase will go toward supporting a cause or charity. Here’s a list of gifts that give back for inspiration!
Holiday Cards for Troops
With all that’s going on during this time of year, it can be easy to forget that the holidays can be hard on some families– especially when they’re missing someone important during the festivities. While we’re all holly and jolly at home with our loved ones, there are over 100,000 deployed troops who can’t be home to celebrate with the ones that matter most to them. Good news, you can send these brave men and women some holiday cheer by sending them cards, letters, and care packages. Organizations such as A Million Thanks and Adopt a US Soldier, just to name a few, will accept your donations and mail them to deployed troops around the world for you. This is a great opportunity to get your kids or friends involved and give together.
Get into the holiday spirit by donating even just a little of your time or money this season. While it may be a time of joy and love for you and your loved ones, many others struggle around this time of year, and YOU can make a difference for them.