How to give back during the holiday season

There are more ways to celebrate than just buying things - how about making a difference?

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The holidays can be a joyous time for you and your loved ones. Many of us enjoy traditional gift-giving and time spent with our families. But Christmas and the holiday season can also be a tough time for the less fortunate or those experiencing hardship.

In the true essence of what the holidays are about, theGrio is sharing some ways you and your loved ones can give back. Every state and city has different options, but here are a few tips to assist in helping you find one that works best for you.

Volunteer

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Volunteering your time is a great way to give back this holiday season. No matter where you’re located, there are places you can offer your services and time to. Local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and churches are ideal places to spend some time serving and preparing food for the less fortunate, the sick and the homeless. Here’s a list of organizations to assist you in your search this holiday season.

God’s Love, We Deliver is a NYC-based non-sectarian organization. Their mission is to improve the health and well-being of men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. 

Rescue missions like the Salvation Army can be found in most cities. Their goals are to reach and rescue people in urgent need, often after a disaster. Volunteering your time to help care for and serve food to those in need can make a world of difference during the holiday season. 

Churches are always looking for people to help with an array of holiday opportunities. Aside from traditionally serving food, you can always help raise money for gifts and blessing bags for those less fortunate. Churches and organizations pre-package what they consider blessing bags with toiletries, food, gloves, scarves, and hats. 

Gift

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Christmas can be more than giving expensive gifts to your family or significant other. The smallest gifts can make a world of difference to a child or family who can’t provide during the holidays. Much like volunteering, providing new or slightly used gifts are huge contributions to someone else’s life. Here are a few places that you can donate gifts to.

Children’s hospitals are always accepting new toys for patients, but keep in mind, most hospitals can’t accept used or secondhand toys due to high standards of infection control. Common gift ideas for children are dolls, teddy bears, toy cars, and books. You can check to see if your local hospital will allow you to do a virtual toy drive like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia does, among other ways to gift toys.

Orphanages are often forgotten about but are in the most need of simple gifts for growing children that always need clothes and toys. Most orphanages also accept financial donations to assist in purchases of gifts, food, clothes, and other necessities throughout the year and you can also directly support the orphans themselves.

Donate

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If you don’t have the time to physically volunteer or to pick up gifts, finding a cause you believe in to donate money to is a great alternative. You can always write a check to a cause that feels very personal to you. Asking your local churches, job or friends about their favorite charitable organizations is a good way to start. Fact-checking organizations before sending any monetary donations is suggested.

Here are a few worthy organizations to consider giving to:

  • Black Girls CODE introduces computer coding lessons to young girls from underrepresented communities in programming languages such as Scratch or Ruby on Rails.
  • Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.  
  • Black Women for Wellness believes in the strength and wisdom of our community and allies.
  • Center for Black Equity is an institution committed to supporting leaders, institutions and programs for health, economic and social equity for LGBT people of African descent.
  • National Black Justice is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender-loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.
  • Color of Change is a nonprofit civil rights advocacy organization.

And here’s a more comprehensive list of charitable causes geared to African-Americans that you can donate to.

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