Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place.
While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.
This year, families are experiencing unique challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including joblessness, financial insecurity, mental health issues, and general loneliness. It is now more important than ever to get involved.
To extend a giving hand in the spirit of the Holidays and to inspire compassion, we’ve compiled 8 easy, Covid-19 friendly ways to bring meaning to your holiday season, and to hopefully ease the burdens of those struggling right now.
Together we can make a difference!
Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection. Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.
Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for.
When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.
Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.
When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.
Many coat drive collectors also ask for hand and toe warmers for those working in the cold or homeless. These are cheap to purchase, and go a long way in keeping folks enduring the cold warm this winter.
Canned food drive
Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.
Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.
When donating, many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.
Think paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a toiletry drive.
Have friends and family literally drive by and drop off hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.
Help a Neighbor
As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.
Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. Perhaps they’re spending the Holidays alone this year due to Covid-19 and social distancing, and just need someone to talk to.
It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!
In healthcare settings across the United States, donated blood is a lifesaving, essential part of caring for patients. The need for donated blood is constant, and blood centers are open and in urgent need of donations.
Important: The CDC is encouraging people who are well to continue to donate blood if they are able, even if they are practicing social distancing because of COVID-19. CDC is supporting blood centers by providing recommendations that will keep donors and staff safe.
Examples of these recommendations include spacing donor chairs 6 feet apart, thoroughly adhering to environmental cleaning practices, and encouraging donors to make donation appointments ahead of time.
You can learn more here.
Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.
Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.
Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.
Start at Home
Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising.
Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.
Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.