The holidays have always been a time for contemplating what we have, not what we lack. The holidays are a time for gratitude, of which English writer G.K. Chesterton said, “Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Acting on our gratitude is important. A spirit of giving galvanizes neighbors and neighborhoods alike when we focus on a common desire to make life better for those in need. But giving back during the holidays will be a little different this year due to COVID-19.
Everything from food banks to blood banks are operating differently to protect the health and safety of staff and volunteers. But now more than ever, it’s time to offer support and to show holiday cheer whenever possible. Here are some ways to safely give back to your community this holiday season during this time of social distancing.
Thank Frontline and Essential Workers
These are days to think about the service and sacrifice of frontline workers. Express your gratitude to first responders, healthcare providers, and essential workers. Think of the essential workers you may know who live in your neighborhood or right in your building. A handwritten note or thank you card can mean a lot after a long shift. Healthcare systems also provide opportunities to submit personal thank yous through their websites.
Feed the Hungry
Now more than ever, food banks need donations and volunteers. Bring nonperishable foods to your local food bank. Or, you can make a cash contribution or donate your time. As a volunteer, you can pack and sort food while following safe practices.
Looking for a local food bank or pantry? Find one at Feeding America or Food Pantries. Feeding America offers tips for volunteering at a food pantry this holiday season. If you don’t feel safe or comfortable volunteering in person, consider preparing food and safely delivering it on your own. Team up with family and friends to multiply your donations.
Bring Good Cheer to Your Community
Physical distancing is an indispensable tool in our COVID-fighting arsenal. However, the lack of human contact and isolation can be difficult and lonesome, especially for those who have endured personal loss this year. The needs of the heart and the mind are as vital as physical needs.
Consider calls and notes to friends, family, neighbors, and to those you’ve fallen out of touch with. Offer a listening ear to someone you know who is facing uncertainties. A single conversation through the front door of a neighbor can do a world of good.
Don’t forget that sharing experiences at a distance is sharing nonetheless. Play virtual games with friends and family via your phone or computer. Read the same book or watch the same TV show, and have a discussion afterward to stay connected.
Volunteering for a hotline or text line is another meaningful way to give back this holiday season. The need to comfort and to reassure is great. The Kaiser Family Foundation suggests the pandemic has affected the mental health of as many as half of adults. For some, job loss compounds the effects of social isolation. By serving on a hotline, you’re not just helping the person you’re comforting to feel more connected to others during these lonely times—you’re helping yourself feel more connected too.
Donate Supplies to Local Organizations
Toy drives have always been a big part of the holiday season, but this year they’re even more important. Children don’t necessarily understand why things are different during the pandemic. However, they do know the joy of opening gifts that are just for them. By donating toys through in-person or virtual toy drives, you’re giving children something fun and cheerful to look forward to.
You could also consider donating to a homeless shelter. Fill stockings with personal hygiene items, socks, hats, gloves, and other helpful items that recipients need. The pandemic has disrupted supply chains, increasing the need for many items. Some locations need cleaners, hand sanitizers, sanitary wipes, and gloves. Diapers, formula, and other baby supplies are welcome at many sites. You can make an immediate difference in someone’s life with your donation and it’s the perfect project for the entire family or a group of friends.
Make Charitable Donations
Historically, about 30 percent of charitable contributions occur in December. It’s vitally important to sustain these levels during the pandemic, so consider a cash donation to a nonprofit of your choice. You can choose from a number of nonprofits listed by state at Great Nonprofits. Try raising even more money by organizing a virtual fundraiser with friends and family. It’s the perfect addition to a holiday game night.
Donating airline miles is a helpful alternative to cash donations. For example, you can donate frequent flyer miles to Make-a-Wish America.
Every year, 4.5 million Americans need a blood transfusion. That’s one patient every two seconds. If you haven’t donated blood, consider starting now. There are COVID-related blood shortages, according to the University of Chicago, so the need is more urgent than ever before. Reach out to your local Red Cross or other blood donation centers to learn how you can help.
How Organizations Can Give Back
Of course, giving back is not just for individuals. There are many ways organizations can lead in giving back to the community. If you’re a property manager or business owner, consider partnering with a local charity. Or think about sponsoring a different cause each week during the holiday season. Browse charities by category at Guidestar to find a cause that lines up well with your audience and your mission.
Consider sponsoring a virtual toy event. Or, work with a local artist to live stream making decorations or creating cards for a care facility. Promote your efforts with customized emails and specially crafted social media posts to encourage others to take part and chip in to support the community.
Our Commitment to Charitable Giving
At Draper and Kramer, charitable giving is integral to our company’s mission. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment to serving and supporting local communities in need.