The season of giving is upon us.
While the holidays typically mean quality time and exchanging gifts with family, I encourage those who can to look for ways to give back to their communities and nonprofit organizations in need of support.
Giving to nonprofits throughout the year, if we’re able to, is important but the holidays bring with them an added emphasis, as that is often the roughest time for those in need.
There are many ways to volunteer or donate during the holidays; it depends on what type of volunteerism interests you and which organizations or causes you’re passionate about. Here are some ways you can give back or volunteer this holiday season.
Thanksgiving often brings visions of turkey and all the sides, but it is important to remember that many are struggling with food insecurity, with more than 54 million people estimated to be food insecure in 2020, according to Feeding America.
The nationwide trend is no less concerning in our region, where the 2020 projected food insecurity rate in Delaware (17.8%) exceeds the nationwide projection (16.7%), with Pennsylvania (15.9%) and New Jersey (13.5%) not far behind.
Many organizations run food drives this time of year to help the food insecure, including WSFS, which is in the midst of its Fall Food Drive. Members of the Community can drop nonperishable food items at WSFS banking locations in Delaware until Dec. 31, and at locations in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania; and Camden and Burlington counties in New Jersey until Dec. 11.
WSFS’ Fall Food Drive supports Rolling Harvest Food Rescue (Pa.), Chester County Food Bank (Pa.), Sunday Breakfast Mission (Del.) and Burlington Township Food Pantry (NJ), but there are many other wonderful organizations in the area collecting food items as well. If you have the resources, I would encourage you to find an organization near to your heart to donate to.
You can even make food donations from the comfort of your home! With social distancing in mind, many organizations pivoted to create programs where volunteers can make food like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and casseroles at home and package them to be sent to the nonprofit.
In addition to accepting food donations, many organizations are also in need of volunteers to organize, pack and even serve meals to those experiencing food insecurity or homelessness.
Clothing and Toiletries
As the weather turns, the need for warm clothing increases. This year, the need for clothing is even greater. With eviction moratoriums that were put into place in response to COVID-19 ending, the number of those experiencing homelessness this holiday season is likely to increase.
Warm clothing, such as coats, hats, gloves, pants and socks, are greatly needed and you can donate them to a homeless shelter or organization in your area. If you don’t have the means to purchase new items, search your closets for gently used winter clothing you no longer use or need, as many organizations will accept these as well.
In addition to clothing, toiletries are an always appreciated donation by homeless shelters. Next time you’re at the grocery store or pharmacy, consider picking up a few extra items to make a care package that can be sent to a nonprofit to help those in need.
Many organizations run toy drives throughout November and December and provide opportunities to “adopt” a child or even a full family to help brighten their holidays with a few gifts.
Providing a gift or toy for children and their families doesn’t need to cost the giver much but can go a long way to bringing joy or a small bit of comfort to those in need during the holidays.
Volunteering or donating to a nonprofit is an excellent way to introduce children to the needs of the Community and instill strong values in them that can help shape their lives. Helping others makes us feel good and is the right thing to do.
Volunteering can also provide an opportunity to spend more quality time with family spreading joy, like helping an elderly neighbor or loved one with decorations or even from the comfort of home by creating holiday cards, which can be a fun way to get your children involved and let them express their creativity.
I encourage you to look around this holiday season and find fun and creative ways to get involved in your Community and make the holidays bright for everyone around you. Now, more than ever, we could all use a little cheer, so take the chance to spread some joy before the end of the year!
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