Military personnel make sacrifices for our country everyday. Sending festive holiday cards is a thoughtful (and low cost) way to show appreciation for all they do. The Holidays for Heroes program through the American Red Cross is one way to send holiday cards to military members. Another option is the A Million Thanks program. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide active-duty and veteran military members support through letters and cards from the community. So, if your local American Red Cross chapter does not participate in the Holidays for Heroes program, check to see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.
This time of year is usually spent in the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping and trying to cross all the names off the list and we lose the true meaning of Christmas. The holidays are a time for giving and it is simple to help the less fortunate and give back to the community. Nothing will warm your heart and soul more than knowing the joy you can provide to someone else in their time of need. It can be such a humbling experience to make sure they too have food on their plates, the daily necessities we tend to take for granted, and a smile on their face. Here are some easy ways to give back during the holidays.
Send out holiday cards
Collect donations for a food bank
Collecting food donations for a food bank is another easy way to give back during the holidays. Food banks provide food to families and organizations that serve those in need. You can host a food drive or gather cash through your employer or gather friends and family to contribute. Whole grain foods and low-sodium canned meats are among some of the most requested nutritious nonperishable food items, along with paper goods and school supplies. To find a food bank near you, check out this database of national food banks.
Donate to a coat drive
Coats are a big need during this time of year for homeless and low-income families. Many of your local businesses hold some sort of coat collection drive, such as Operation Warm and One Warm Coat. Many of the local schools have an annual fundraising project in the fall called Coins for Coats where the students contribute loose change and cash, which is then used to purchase coats, hats and gloves for the students in need for the winter. Search to see if any stores and organizations in your area are participating or start your own coat drive! There are many shelters that are more than willing to pair up to donate clothing to those in need.
Consider making a toy donation to families who can’t afford gifts. Toys For Tots is a program created by the U.S. Marines to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community. Another local organization is Operation Blue Santa, a non-profit, community based corporation, staffed by volunteers and employees of the Austin Police Department, whose mission is to provide toys and food for families in need during the Holiday Season.
Sponsor a family
Another way to make a big impact is to sponsor adopt a family for the holidays. Local religious and charitable groups gather personal information about the families who need sponsorship, including their clothing sizes and holiday wishlists. All you have to do is choose a family and the fun begins! From making sure they have a nice meal to enjoy to picking out gifts for the family, this is something that even your children can take part in and is such a fantastic experience for the whole family! Adopting a family can cost a bit more than some of the other ideas, so if you think it’s too much for you to tackle on your own, consider gathering a group of people to chip in for one family.