The holiday season is a time of giving, and not just of gifts to family members and friends. There’s a lot you have to offer to those in need. Items you may already have at home which you can donate, or essentials you can buy and send in a care package. Or give your time, and share the holiday spirit at a local charity drive. Get involved so the holiday season is merry for you and others.
This article covers:
- What to donate, used and new
- What to put in your care package
- How to get involved in charity drives
Donate Essential Items
Everyone’s first thought to donate is clothes. While your clothes are appreciated, there is often much more you can give that not many others are thinking to donate. Make sure everything you donate is gently used, unexpired, and socially acceptable to donate. Along with your clothes and food, think of also donating some of the following that can really impact somebody’s health and comfort during the holiday. It’s important to consider some of these items can be donated used, but a lot more need to be bought new.
Toilet paper is always in high demand. Bring some wrapped rolls with you. But it goes beyond simply just toilet paper. Those in need also need donations of basic hygiene products. Dental hygiene requires unused toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss. And don’t forget the bathroom essentials! All of the following is needed: shampoo, body wash, conditioner, deodorant. Bathroom hygiene products are more preferable in small bottles for those who don’t have a regular shelter and move around a lot. All these products must have in intact seal.
Pads and tampons are also very much needed. Donate a few boxes of feminine hygiene products so no women have to worry about access to it this holiday season.
Bandages are very often needed, but difficult to access for those who are homeless. Help keep wounds properly cared for with sealed first-aid products such as Band-Aids, ointments, medicated wipes and ace bandages.
All ages are affected by homelessness, including children. Bring a bit of cheer to parents and their kids with donations intended towards children. Diapers are always in demand. Donate a few boxes; diapers for all ages are welcome. And consider also donating baby powder and baby wipes.
School supplies are also much appreciated. Donate bookbags, notebooks, pencils, erasers, and anything else a young student would appreciate for their studies.
There’s so much more you can give to homeless shelters. The following items are necessities as well as comfort items. You’ve been donating the clothes you no longer want to wear, but have you been donating underwear and socks? These you shouldn’t donate second hand. Buy new underwear and socks and donate! Blankets are always needed as well, especially if you live in an area that is bitter cold this holiday season.
You can also consider donating spices to make all that donated canned food a bit more interesting. Donate an old bike you keep in your garage. That bike can mean free transportation for someone to go in between work and home. Donate old cellphones to those who don’t have one.
Bags and boxes can also make a world of difference to families who need to carry all their belongings from one place to another. So donate any bags or boxes you have lying around the house.
Make a Care Package
Every donation is appreciated and needed, but if you want to take donating to a new step, you can make care packages. You can keep these care packages handy in your bag or car and hand them out as you see a homeless person. Or you can give them to a homeless shelter to hand out. Not sure what to include in your care package? Consider the following items:
- Small snacks (such as granola bars,fruit snacks, applesauce, crackers, etc)
- Water bottle
- Warm socks
- Hand wipes
- Lifesavers or sugar free gum
- Hand lotion
- Dental floss
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- List of free resources with phone numbers
If you want to make it personal as well as helpful, consider including a few additional items, such as a written note or a good book. Put it all together in a ziplock bag or, better yet, a backpack or other reusable bag. Living on the street, especially during the winter, is harsh. While these care packages won’t save anyone, it’ll care for a few others for a day. Help in the little ways you can with these care packages.
Charity drives work to collect as many essentials as possible for those in need as possible. You can hop onto a charity drive you’ve heard about or find through research. Give what you can and advertise it to others! Or you can help organize a charity drive into existence.
How to Organize a Charity Drive
If you’re going to start a charity drive, you’re going to have to figure out a few things first. Specifically, who, what, when, where, why, and how?
You may need a team to get this project underway. Pull together a team, set up an initial meeting, and start assigning tasks. You’ll then need to figure out what charity to give to, and what that charity needs. Research online for charities and their mission. Their online sites will likely tell you what it is they need donations of. If not, give them a call to ask! You may also need to consider which charity will resonate most with your audience. For example, if you plan to ask for donations from parents, perhaps choose a charity that focuses on education or support of less fortunate kids.
In order for optimal efficiency, you need to be specific of the start and end dates of the drive. Will it be a month long, or a day event? What hours of the day will you collect? Some drives are more successful when the event includes something like a bake sell or a car wash. Some are more willing to give if they get something back. If this is the case for your drive, determine how long the event will last. If it’s just a collection bin left in a work space of a school, consider security.
A set location is required. If you have an idea on the ideal location or locations, check that area’s policy on fundraising activities. Who in your team is responsible for each location? Or if it’s one location, who’s manning each station?
You’ll need to do a bit of marketing. Why do people want to give to this charity? Sell your charity drive by writing a compelling message and promoting it in any way you can. You can hand out or post flyers. Make sure the flyer includes your short message, the location, dates and times. Ask local businesses to display your flyers and posters in their windows. Local businesses such as bakeries, coffee houses, banks, community centers, movie theatres, grocery stores, and much more. Consider going house to house in your neighborhood or sending out an email to your communities. Share the event on Facebook and other social media platforms. The ways to promote are endless.
And then all that’s left is to prepare for the event to ensure as much goes as smoothly as possible.
Helping out those in need is definitely not a seasonal act, but the holidays are as great of a time as any to put in a renewed effort. See what you have lying around your house, or add some items to your shopping list. Get involved in the charitable events local to you, there’s bound to be a few. If not, start your own. Get into the holiday spirit and give back.