While many of us exchange gifts and spend time with our family and friends to celebrate the holidays, there are plenty of people who aren’t as fortunate. If you want to do something to give back, consider supporting a charitable organization this season. Below are some opportunities where you can help make someone’s holidays a little bit brighter this year!
There are 2.7 million children with an incarcerated parent in the U.S., and they often feel lonely around the holidays. Angel Tree helps those children feel cared for by taking gift suggestions from incarcerated mothers and fathers and distributing presents. You can surprise kids with their desired gifts with a one-time or monthly donation. The gift will arrive from the incarcerated parent, reminding the child that they have someone who loves them, even from afar!
Make-A-Wish creates unforgettable experiences for children with critical illnesses based on their individual dreams. Doctors say the fulfilled wishes can help improve the child’s quality of life and lead to better health outcomes. Make a child’s holiday dream come true with your donation! The organization also partners with companies like TopGolf, Discover Card, and Best Western and receives a percentage of each purchase made at those businesses. Check out this list to see how you can alter your spending habits to benefit a Make-A-Wish child!
Pay Away the Layaway
Parents who can’t afford to give their children the holiday celebration they want can work with businesses to set aside desired goods through layaway until they can be fully paid for. Pay Away the Layaway identifies layaways that include gifts for kids, such as books, backpacks, toys, games, blankets, clothes, and coats. Make a one-time donation or start a fundraiser to help settle these layaways, eliminating the parents’ burden and creating memories for kids.
Christmas Spirit Foundation
A Christmas tree is so much more than bark and branches. It represents family and togetherness—things deployed soldiers and their families might be missing during the holiday season. Christmas Spirit Foundation provides free farm-grown trees to members of all branches of the U.S. armed forces and their families. Nearly 17,000 trees were delivered in 2018 alone, spreading cheer among those who could use an extra boost. Make a donation or purchase an entire tree to help soldiers and their families feel united!
Family Giving Tree
Though Family Giving Tree works year-round to fulfill the wishes of children, families, and seniors in the San Francisco Bay Area, this charitable organization gets especially generous around the holidays. During its annual Holiday Wish Drive, Family Giving Tree interviews children to learn their ideal gifts. You can donate funds online or make purchases through AmazonSmile to give children awesome gifts and let them know that someone is thinking of them this Christmas season!
Remember Linus, the child from the Peanuts cartoon strip who couldn’t be separated from his precious blanket? Project Linus aims to provide similar security—not to mention warmth—to less fortunate children. This children’s charity has donated an average of 350 blankets each month over the past 20 years. Craft a blanket or donate monetarily to make a child’s winter a bit warmer.
Operation Blessing offers ongoing, strategic relief—both domestically and abroad—after a disaster through core programs like health and medical care, hunger aid, and clean water. The holidays are a perfect time to remember those who had a rough year and could use some help. Volunteer your time, purchase Operation Blessing merchandise, or make a donation to ensure disaster victims continue to receive aid.
Meals on Wheels
More than 7 million seniors live in poverty in America, and nearly 80% are food insecure. These seniors are often lonely, and some don’t have access to transportation so that they can visit a soup kitchen or food bank. Meals on Wheels provides nutritious food and friendly visits so seniors can live more comfortably. You can help ensure a senior doesn’t go hungry over the holidays by delivering meals and building relationships as a volunteer or by making a one-time or monthly gift.
The Wish Project
Families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, and The Wish Project is out to stop that rising number. The charity aims to help families establish long-term residency by providing furniture, household goods, clothing, and shoes. It helps struggling families get their feet under them and sets them up for future success. Contribute mattresses, clean clothes, tables, air conditioners, and more to help the cause. You can offer your time as an off-site volunteer or hold a fundraiser. There’s no shortage of ways to help the homeless through this charitable organization!
One Simple Wish
Children in foster care can feel alone, confused, and frightened by their uncertain futures. One Simple Wish lets these children know they are loved, and that someone is looking out for them. It sources wishes from all over the country, pairs them with a quick description of the recipient, and allows generous people to grant those wishes. Purchase someone’s dream gift, make a monthly commitment, volunteer at a Wish Party, or send a LovedBy note to brighten these kids’ holidays.
Don’t know what to get the person who has everything? Make a donation in their name! Oxfam Unwrapped uses donated funds to support humanitarian work, improve livelihoods in vulnerable areas, rebuild communities after natural disasters, and reduce poverty. The charity sends a card (physical or e-card) of your choice to inform the recipient they’ve received a gift that gives back.
Better World Books
As you receive gifts this holiday season, you’re reminded of just how much you have—and how much you don’t use anymore. Consider going through your overstuffed bookcase and donate a few titles to Better World Books, either through the mail or at a drop box. The charity resells books to help fund nonprofit literacy organizations that teach children, build schools, and fill libraries. The organization has donated over 26 million books and raised nearly $30 million since its inception in 2003. You can also purchase books through the site as Better World Books donates a book every time one is bought on its site.
Toys for Tots
Help less fortunate children receive a gift this holiday season! Toys for Tots has donated more than 556 million gifts since 1947, making it one of the best charities for children. Donate funds online and send a personal message to a child in need. Drop off a new toy or game at one of the organization’s many drop locations, or host a campaign to collect donations from friends, family, and coworkers during the Christmas season!
St. Jude Children’s Hospital
Want to help in the fight against childhood cancer? Thanks in part to St. Jude’s research, 80% of U.S. childhood cancer patients now become long-term survivors. Dedicate a personalized brick for the organization’s Kay Research and Care Center, or set up a gift fund and encourage friends and family to donate. Over the holidays, you can make a one-time gift in someone’s honor, and St. Jude will send them a personalized card thanking them for their generosity. Use your holiday spirit to help defeat childhood cancer!
One in nine Americans struggle with hunger, and you can help ensure that the less fortunate have a meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Through food banks, school-based pantries, and emergency disaster relief, Feeding America provides healthy meals for those who can’t always feed themselves. Volunteer at a local food bank, become a monthly donor, or make a one-time donation to help deliver one of the 4.3 billion meals Feeding America will supplies each year.
These are but a few of many holiday charities you can help out this season. Whichever you choose to support, know that you’re helping someone else in a time of need, and there’s no truer meaning of holiday spirit than that!