It is the most wonderful time of the year– the holidays are upon us! Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years translates to reunited families, parties overflowing with eggnog and a cold front that can only mean one thing: business for Santa! But in the midst of the celebration and widespread cheer, followed by the giving and receiving of gifts, let us not forget about our community in need.
We know life can be stressful and time flies by but admit it, the last time you volunteered it was a requirement! Don’t fret, the One World team has put together this list just for you: 7 charitable ways you can contribute to your community.
1. Donate clothes. My favorite. Don’t wait until spring to start cleaning, empty those closets now (especially give any extra winter coats). I know you’ll pull that dress out, and promise that you’ll wear those pants, but you won’t. And you wont miss them. Give them to somebody who could truly use and cherish them. Goodwill makes the process extremely easy, just find your nearest donation site, and then relish in the fact that your gift will help fund “job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face employment challenges.”
2. Attend a charity event, Houston has plenty. For example, the Crawl for A Cause, Walk A Mile Charity Event or the 30th Annual Total Jingle Bell Run & Walk. Whether you are more active or prefer black tie, you can find all kinds of charitable events that take place throughout the year on the Chron.com events section.
Either way, you are being active and showing your family and friends a good time while demonstrating the little steps we can take to make a difference.
3. Shop gifts that give back. I know, a list inside a list. But check out these cool sites that donate when we shop!
- Stone + Cloth purchases help to provide scholarships for children in Tanzania.
- Baby Teresa sells 100% organic baby clothing and accessories. When you buy once, they give twice to babies in more than 20 countries!
- At International Sanctuary you can purchase handmade jewelry with a purpose. Each piece is crafted by survivors of human trafficking who now find uplifting education, vocational training and life skills at iSanctuary, “giving her the opportunity to gain dignity and confidence.”
- LLULO was started by a young Houston native who decided to modernize Ankara. Each purchase will help to create more shelter in Africa.
- At Rosie Hippo, you will find beautifully handcrafted wooden toys, toys made from organic fabrics, books and games that stimulate creativity and independent thought, along with a list of proudly supported charities.
4. Make Cards for Hospitalized Kids. Make it an arts and crafts night and gather the children, or call the girls over, to create colorful, inspiring letters that will uplift the spirits of young kids who would greatly appreciate it (find instructions for MCHK here).
Knowing that a stranger took the time to make a card to wish them well means a lot to the child’s family, too.
5. Send Holiday Mail for Heroes. Piggy backing off #4, Red Cross will deliver your homemade cards to our armed forces, giving them the “touch of home” they might need this holiday season.
6. Get your workplace involved. The Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family program is great for any organization. They provide you with a “Holiday Wish List” from a family in need, your organization then donates food and gifts that will be delivered by The Salvation Army before Christmas.
You could also check out United Way’s Days of Caring volunteer opportunities. UW needs corporate teams to contribute their time and talents to affiliate agencies across Houston. Open positions range from reading to children to teaching computer skills at the United Way Computer Learning Center to carpentry and landscaping. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
7. Just go volunteer! I saved the best for last. I know, its cold and you’ll have to be there so early in the morning. But nothing beats the feeling of complete satisfaction in knowing you could have possibly changed the perspective of even one person. With a simple kind gesture, pat on the back or word of encouragement, your very presence is proof that we are all in this together.
Ragan’s Hope, a Christian organization committed to helping parents of children with catastrophic illnesses or injuries are also looking for volunteers to support families who “spend more time in a hospital waiting room than their own home.”
St. John’s Church Downtown & Northwest Campus‘ Bread of Life ministries and non-profit focuses on “sustaining, equipping, and transforming the forgotten with compassion.” Individually or with a group, you can sign up to help with programs like ‘Meals That Heal,’ serving thousands of meals a month to homeless men and women 6 days a week or ‘Daybreak,’ welcoming homeless guest 5 days a week and providing help with job training, counseling and more. Visit Breadoflifeinc.org for more information, a full list of year round opportunities and a volunteer application.
Oh, and The Salvation Army of the Greater Houston could use some help at their Secret Santa Warehouse
Maybe you’ll do one activity every day for a week, or, one per week for the next 7 weeks? You would be squared away on charity until the end of January– just in time for that good karma to reward you with a Valentines’ date *wink*. Make this list your own and seek out more ways to come together and make this holiday season a lovely time for everyone. Remember, we only have One World!