How to Give Back to the Community During the Holidays and Throughout the Year
educating-myself | Read Time: 3 minutes
By Vernita Dorsey | Published: November 2021
The holiday season is a time of giving, but for many, it can also be the time when they need the most help.
Many people spend weeks and months looking forward to the quality time with family and friends that the holidays bring, but it is important to also remember those less fortunate and look for ways to support your local communities.
Here are a few ideas for how to give back during the holidays and throughout the year.
Each year around Thanksgiving, many organizations host food drives to help provide meals to those in need. The need for food is not isolated to just the holidays, however, as 42 million people, including 13 million children, are estimated to be food insecure in 2021, according to Feeding America.
There are an abundance of opportunities to help battle food insecurity currently underway, including WSFS’ 18th Annual Fall Food Drive, which is still collecting nonperishable items through December 10 at New Jersey banking locations and December 31 at Delaware banking locations.
Many organizations – such as Rolling Harvest Food Rescue and The Patrician Society in Pa., Sunday Breakfast Mission in Del., and the Burlington Township Food Pantry in NJ – accept donations year-round, and I would encourage you to give where possible to these and the many other worthy nonprofits in the area. If you don’t have the means to donate throughout the year, these organizations can always use volunteers to help sort and pack donations as well.
The holidays also typically bring the cold weather with them in our region, which provides a reminder of the need for new or gently used clothing and coats to help keep your neighbors warm this winter.
While coats and warm clothing are vital to help those experiencing homelessness survive harsh winter conditions, the need for donations continues throughout the year. Socks, shoes and toiletries are some of the most needed items for homeless shelters, and every donation whether large or small, can help make a difference.
Spreading Joy Through Gifts
The joy of giving a gift to others can often exceed the joy of receiving one yourself. During this season of giving, many local organizations host toy drives to help brighten the holidays for those who may not be able to afford them.
In Pennsylvania, WSFS has teamed up with the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce for the 2021 WSFS Bank Holiday Toy Drive to collect gifts at select banking locations to benefit Good Samaritan Services of Coatesville, Maternal and Child Health Consortium, Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children, and the Saint Agnes Outreach – Holy Family Christmas Program.
In New Jersey, WSFS is partnering with Toys for Tots again this year. There are a host of other organizations collecting gifts this time of year, and I encourage you to look for opportunities to brighten the holidays for those less fortunate if you’re able.
Volunteering Your Time and Expertise
The pandemic has only increased the demand for many nonprofits’ services, and volunteering your time can be one of the best ways to give back to these organizations and your community. It can also provide a great opportunity for a family to bond and teach young children the importance of helping others.
For example, for the past six years my daughter and grandchildren have delivered for Meals on Wheels on Thanksgiving Day. Each year, we plan ahead to work around our own Thanksgiving Day celebration to spend an hour or so delivering to those who in most cases are spending this day alone. Both my daughter and grandchildren look forward to participating each year. The lesson that is taught during that hour has become an annual tradition for our family, and I know will live with them the rest of their lives.
Look for a cause or organization close to your heart and consider reaching out this holiday season to see how you can volunteer.
Many nonprofits operate on tight budgets and as a result are always looking for caring members of the community to volunteer throughout the year. You may even find an organization that can leverage your professional experience to help provide support.
Whether through donating goods or your time, giving back to your community can help brighten your mood, provide an opportunity to meet your neighbors and much more. I encourage everyone to search their hearts and look for ways this holiday season – and throughout the year – to give back and help those in need.
About the Author – Vernita Dorsey
Vernita Dorsey is Senior Vice President, Director of Community Strategy at WSFS Bank. She has more than 38 years of experience as a community banker and has actively served her community throughout her career.
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