By Anna Valdez
Web Content Contributor
With the holiday season underway, people are finalizing their wish lists and planning holiday get-togethers with loved ones. For many, however, this time of year can be a long and difficult one. In preparation of the coming weeks, it is important to think about how we can give back to others not only during the holidays but throughout the year. Here are three main ways you can help others in your community and beyond beginning this month:
There are countless organizations and charities in need of everyday items such as gently used clothing, food donations and other goods. If you have a buildup of clothes in your closet, canned food or some spare change lying around, consider donating any of these items to organizations that work to distribute them. Food items, for example, can be donated to Hays County Food Bank, or you can also search for food banks in your area using Feeding America’s search page. Some organizations even have a wish list of items that are of priority need, like the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center. Be sure to verify that a site’s information is up-to-date so that you know exactly what an organization is in need of and where to donate.
If you are passionate about other causes, whether it is environmental, social or otherwise, consider donating to an organization’s efforts. For instance, if you are interested in donating to those working with the migrant caravan, a simple online search will pull up dozens of organizations working to help those on their journey to asylum. The same can be said for other groups working to make a change, such as civil rights groups, charities responding to international crises and more.
Efforts are still underway to help areas affected by natural disasters such as California, Florida and Puerto Rico. You can find lists of highly rated organizations on Charity Navigator that are currently working to help rebuild communities.
The Central Texas Food Bank is also always looking for volunteers to help the Austin community. Volunteers have the option to work within the organization’s warehouse, community kitchen, mobile food pantry and even their garden sector. You can also become a volunteer ambassador, leader or office worker. Every part of the organization works to ensure that the highest quality food items make it to those who need them.
Make blessing bags
Making blessing bags is a great way to gather your friends and family together to make a positive impact in your community. Blessing bags can contain snacks, personal hygiene products, small clothing items like socks and anything else that may be useful to a person in need. These items can be placed in a gallon-size Ziploc bag so you can easily fill them with goods and supplies for distribution. The purpose of a blessing bag is pretty self-explanatory: the items should be of use to those who need them and will hopefully serve as a reminder (or blessing) that there will always be those willing to lend a helping hand.
As always, be sure to do your research when it comes to organizations and charity sites. Charity Navigator allows users to search evaluations on thousands of charitable organizations to ensure your donations are always being put to good use.
Featured photo by Anna Valdez.