For many of us, the holiday season means finals week and then a much-needed break from school and work. While it can be a busy time, it’s important to remember all of the people that need our help over the holidays. Plus, giving of your resources and time is a fun way to get yourself in the Christmas spirit! Read on for some ideas and inspiration for ways you can give back this holiday season:
Give Groceries to Families in Need
One way to give back to your local community is to make sure families have enough to eat during the holidays. Blacksburg Interfaith Food Pantry is a local, volunteer-run charity that provides meals to hundreds of families a month. The holidays are a busy time of year for a food shuttle, so they can use all the help you can offer. Whether it is a donation of your time and ability or a grocery donation, you could help feed a family. So, take some friends on a trip to the grocery store and fill a bag or two of nonperishable items to drop off at the local food pantry. More information about the pantry’s hours and location can be found here.
Give a Christmas Gift to Children in Need
Another way to serve your community is to donate lightly used or new gifts to families with young kids. This could require cleaning out an old toy box or doing some of your own shopping to make a child’s holiday season bright. There are plenty of initiatives right here in the Blacksburg area that can use our help. Toys for Tots, a national charity, has a chapter in Christiansburg and can always accept your donations. For more information on locations and drop site forms, click here. Another fun way to give back is to participate in an angel tree registry. Run by the Salvation Army, angel trees are a way to provide families with their clothing and food needs this Christmas. This program has even paired up with Walmart to make these wishlist items even more available. For more information on locations and registries, click here.
Give to Children in Foster Care
Another great group working to give the gift of a cheerful holiday season to those in need is Comfort Cases. This group donates backpacks with comfort and personal care items to children in the foster care system. Many of these children can feel alone and neglected during the holidays, so this organization is a great way to give them some comfort and care. Comfort Cases accepts donations and volunteers - learn more about this group here.
Say ‘Thank You’ to Those That Protect Us
There are many organizations that provide people with volunteering opportunities from their own homes. One of these organizations focused on expanding volunteering opportunities is Operation Gratitude. Operation Gratitude is an initiative that serves active duty military members, veterans, military families, and first responders. They accept donations of knitted or sewed items to keep troops warm, as well as Christmas cards. Take an opportunity this season to say ‘thank you’ to those who serve us all year round. You can learn more about Operation Gratitude and get more information on their volunteer options here.
Some other ways you can help:
Handing out Stockings to the Homeless
Consider grabbing some stockings and filling them with some fun and some essential items for the homeless. These could include food, water, and some items to keep them warm during the cold season like socks or a blanket. These can be kept in your car and you can hand them out as you see people on your daily commutes.
Offer to Help a Physically Limited Neighbor
There are also ways to give back in your own neighborhood. Offering to put up lights or decorations for an older neighbor can make a big difference. Making sure those without assistance are taken care of during the holidays is a big part of giving back.
Give a Christmas Card to Elders/Patients
Some people in care facilities such as assisted living or hospitals might not be able to spend their holidays with family. Spending some time with them can help them feel less alone this Christmas. Since some volunteering options might be limited during the pandemic, you can always write Christmas cards for assisted living communities and hospitals to let patients know you are thinking of them.
By Kristen Lopiano