I’m really big on giving back whenever possible regardless of the season, but around the holidays I get especially into it. Whether it’s the salvation army buckets, toy drives, or merely paying or the coffee of the person behind you in line, giving back is what the holidays should be all about. It’s heartwarming giving to the less fortunate, or simply helping someone else out for no reason other than… just because. I put together a few charities and organizations that mean a lot to me to be considered for your holiday donations.
Or any one of your local food pantry or shelter.
Maybe it’s just called Friends in Service to Humanity where I live, but you’ll probably see people outside the groceries stores, or areas set up inside where you can donate food or clothing to those less fortunate — every single time I see it I try to contribute something. I’m not made of money, I have never been, but even if it’s just a couple of items, cans of vegetables, cereals, pasta, peanut butter, I try to grab whatever I can to give back. There was a short period when I was in my early teens I believe that my family had to use the food pantry service due to hard times. I didn’t know how I felt about it then, and thankfully it didn’t last long, and we were soon on our feet again and no longer needed those services, but many are not as lucky as I was. So just around Thanksgiving, I was going into the store on a typical Saturday for shopping, that exact program was outside handing out the flyer for what the pantry was in need of for Thanksgiving meals. My mom and I took a look at the flyer and while it was a week were a lot of bills had to get paid at the same time, and we were short on money, we managed to get a few things. Such as a couple of boxes of stuffing, some canned veggies, gravy, and cranberry sauce, I don’t even think it amounted to $15, but that’s the point. Donating and giving back doesn’t need to cost you an astronomical amount of money, you could even just simply donate your time, but giving back to organizations like that means a whole lot to a whole lot of people and families, especially during the holiday season. So find out how to get into contact with your local pantries and shelters, give your time, a few bucks, or an old coat that you never wear, you’ll be doing more than you realize.
Toys for Tots.
OR any kind of toy drives in your community.
This is another one that I try to donate something every year. Usually, I’ll see the local police outside of Walmart holding the toy drives for this. When I first started to do this, I thought I had to get the best gift I could find, and it had to be semi-expensive. But I quickly learned that that wasn’t the case at all. Toys for Tots is about helping parents be able to give their kids something for Christmas that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. I didn’t need to be as picky as I thought. Hot wheel cars, barbies, fisher price, Elmo, or stuffed animals, anything would make a kids morning. Sometimes when you get to the registers like I did yesterday when I ran into the dollar store, they’ll ask if you want to donate a toy to a military family, it costs a dollar, they have a little basket next to them that they just pull it from, and you can donate that way too! I don’t know how all these things run where everyone lives, but in Connecticut, they make it pretty simple!
Pencil of Promise.
This organization was founded by Adam Braun. About five years now Sophia Bush tweeted about this organization and that the founder had written a book about his journey. I was intrigued, so I order the book off of Amazon. While I had looked into this a little while I waited for the book and I understood that he was building schools and an education system in less fortunate countries but until I read his book, A Promise of a Pencil, I had no idea the life-changing mission he was on. Do some research on Adam Braun and this incredible foundation, and I think you’ll agree it’s worth sending in a donation. It’s another one I try to donate at LEAST $25 to and spread awareness whenever possible on social media. Here’s the website, see for yourselves. https://pencilsofpromise.org/programs/
Animal Shelters, local and non-local!
From volunteering to feed the shelter animals, take them for a walk, play with them, or even foster one, there are many ways to help out animals during this holiday season. Many will take your money donations, but the animals themselves would probably prefer your attention! Donations such as old blankets, unopened, unexpired pet food, beds, scratchers, and toys seemed to be what most are looking for, but do your research, make some calls, get online, find out who needs what and see what you can do, every little bit matters!
NAMI. National Alliance on Mental Health.
An organization is very close to my heart… and my head. As someone who struggles with anxiety and mental health issues daily, it is very reassuring to have organizations like this one who are dedicated to helping millions of Americans with their mental health issues and working towards giving them all a better tomorrow. This is a cause that doesn’t just need donations but also word of mouth. Find and post about NAMI or any other mental health organizations such as I DON’T MIND, NIH, MHA, and others. You never know who could read about it exactly when they need to the most.
Ian Somerhalder Foundation.
Another option for animal lovers to see their money go to the right place. Founded in 2010 the foundation aims to empower, educate, and collaborate with people and projects to positively impact the planet and its creatures. From grants such as the emergency medical grant of 2014 to sanctuaries being put together, to education pieces on issues such as the water crisis, collaborations with the girls impact the world film festival, and much much more. ISF has many areas inside the environmental and animal support communities that many can get behind and donate their money, their time or their voices. This foundation was one of the first that began to bring out the activist in myself.
I have been a big advocate for this organization for many years now. I believe in the hope and help it provides victims and survivors. From volunteering, spreading the word across social media, fundraising and student activism. I know that it is incredibly important to know that you have options, that there is help out there for anyone who is a victim, a survivor or a loved one of either. Ways to help? Donate one time, monthly, honor someone, or use workplace giving. Also, as always, word of social media is always essential. In the days we’ve had, the things we’ve discovered and witnessed in this past year alone, are only a few reasons why this organization is extremely important. If you’re someone looking for help, or knows someone who might need it, visit https://www.rainn.org/ to learn more.
Donating during the holidays does not mean emptying your pockets and going broke. It doesn’t mean giving up gifts for yourself, friends and family. It means more than just giving your money. It means giving your time and your voice. As I’ve made clear, I’m not made of money, I live paycheck to paycheck just like many others so sometimes donating money isn’t an option for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t help. I love twitter and Instagram, and I’ve used them and this blog to bring awareness and show support for just a few of the organizations, foundations that charities that mean something to me, and that I hope I can do just a little something to help. And you can too.