The holidays can be a wonderful time for celebrating with friends and family, but they also serve as a great time to focus on community. One of the greatest gifts you can offer during the season is giving back, whether it be with your time, money, or services. We know how crazy busy everyone gets around the holidays, so we’re sharing five easy ways to help those in need in your community!
1. Volunteer with a local organization
There are so many non-profits and organizations that need help at the holidays and would benefit so much from a litle extra help. Consider gifting your time this season! Take a shift at a soup kitchen, volunteer at a food bank, or sign up to organize donations with a charity. Feeding San Diego, a local chapter of Feeding America, is a great organization to partner with and they are always in need of help. One in eight people in the US struggles with hunger, and this hunger relief organization works to feed families all across the country. Give back this holiday season by signing up with your local chapter to help with tasks such as sorting produce, organizing donated cans, or packing lunch sacks. If you are unsure of what type of organization you would like to volunteer with, check out VolunteerMatch, it is a great way to match your strengths, interest, and passions, with the organization that would benefit most.
2. Sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister
If you are passionate about helping youth in need, consider partnering with your local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. For a couple of visits together (or more) every month, you’ll have the opportunity to mentor and positively impact the life of a child living in your community. While it requires a one year commitment, it’s a wonderful gift for both yourself and your community. Nic, owner of the Roc Shop, has already started the process to become a Big Sister. If you would like to ask her a few questions about the selection process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Make a donation
Around the holidays, charities are in need of many donations such as canned foods, blankets, gifts, clothing, toys, and even volunteers to help rebuild homes or to be a part of a clean up crew for places that have faced natural disasters like Houston, Puerto Rico, Barbados, and more. Donations don’t have to be monetary or goods based, either – time and services can be donated too! If you are a photographer, offer free family holiday portraits for your local youth and family based organizations. Or maybe if you are a musician, perform at shelters to lift and brighten up spirits. If you are interested in disaster clean up, check out the tourism websites of countries/cities that have been affected. This will give you the most updated information of programs that are in need of volunteers for disaster relief or non-profits that are raising money for disaster relief. Your talents and time are full of wealth and really can make a huge impact on another person’s life and your community. You can also take a moment to research holiday drives in your area, and find one that you feel passionate about working with.
Note from Nic:
In 2007, I volunteered a week with United Way to help rebuild homes that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Even two years later there was still so much damage. United Way has a great program, as they match you up with a team and a team leader from the locality you are serving, and they teach you some pretty important skills of home repair/building and disaster clean up. It was such a rewarding feeling knowing that I could help in some way, though it was small and there was still a lot of repairs throughout all of the Parish’s that needed construction. It is also a great way to talk to the community, hear their stories, and get to know them.
4. Adopt a Family
One of the most substantial ways to give back to your community during the holidays is to adopt a family in need. Organizations such as SAY San Diego has a program called Holiday Hopes or Salvation Army can help match you, and you can provide a family with necessities like food, clothing and gifts. There are also other organizations, such as Monarch School in San Diego, that enable you to support a child in your community for Christmas.
A note from Nic about her experience with Adopting Families:
Growing up, my Aunt Maria ran a non-profit called the Women’s Center, and every year she worked with sponsors (department stores, banks, real estate firms, etc.) to find a family to adopt for the holidays. These families were victims of abuse and had to flee their homes with their children and live in isolation for safety. Their entire lives had been uprooted overnight; many would show up to the shelter with only a change of clothes. During the holidays, the family adoption program was a great way to help the families get back on track with new clothes, shoes, blankets, toys, and other basic necessities. After years of volunteering at the center and during the Adopt-a-Family campaign, I was able to see how much of an impact a community can make in the lives of others.
Following lead of my Aunt’s mission, in 2016, The Roc Shop adopted two families for a total of 7 family members. We donated 20% of our profits made throughout the month of mid November to mid December and used those funds to help buy shoes, clothes, toys, and basic home necessities for our families. Although we did not get to meet our families, it was definitely a gratifying gift to give a helping hand.
5. Acknowledge those in your community who are struggling
We understand that the above suggestions might not be feasible for everyone at the holidays, but we do have an even simpler way of giving back. While it might not seem important, one of the best ways to brighten your community is to offer a smile to someone in need at the holidays. Taking the time to acknowledge those who may be down on their luck shows that you recognize they have emotions and dignity, too. If you have the ability, talking with someone in need and helping them in anyway you can will make a huge difference. However, if the idea of talking with others sounds a bit out of your comfort zone, here is another simple suggestion to help those around you. Make 10 “snack sacks” and have them on hand in your car to hand out if you see someone in need of help.The bags can be easily filled with a water bottle, granola bar, chips, a cookie, and a $1 bill. It’s an amazing feeling knowing that even such a simple gesture can have a vast impact on a person’s day.
So there you have it — five great ways to give back to your community this holiday season. Our hope is that you will help make a loving impact on your community this holiday season, and beyond. Let us know below how you like to give back!!