Ways to Give More Than Just Gifts this Holiday Season
While many people are able to celebrate and enjoy all that they have to be thankful for at this time of year, the year-end can also be an important time to remember to give of ourselves to others. Whether through donating physical products, donating financially, or donating our time and service, there are plenty of opportunities to give — and lots that you might not have previously considered...or even knew existed!
Whether you’re interested in helping a local organization here in Nashville, or you’d prefer to spread your generosity further afield, we can all agree that there is no shortage of opportunities for sharing the love. And while making a selection can sometimes seem overwhelming, the amount you’re able give certainly shouldn’t be; if you don’t have an excess of cash to donate, there are plenty of other ways you can make a difference this holiday season without draining your savings account.
Get Rid Of All That Spare Change
You don’t have to write a fat check in order to make a difference. Currently in the middle of its 10th year running, Ms. Cheap’s Penny Drive for Second Harvest has raised more than $477,000 throughout its tenure. By simply donating your loose change and cash, you can help make a major difference in feeding the hungry in Nashville. Clean out your pockets or purse while you’re leaving church or your kid’s school; bring your change jar to your favorite local bank participating in the efforts; or simply relinquish the change you receive from paying for your groceries and toss it into the penny can when you’re at your neighborhood Kroger. Every little bit counts.
PS - Henrietta Red is also hosting a holiday bake sale this month, called Holiday Harvest, in which all proceeds benefit Second Harvest. Order a cake or some cookies, and not only will you make your holiday affair a little sweeter (and easier!) but you’ll do the same for someone in need.
Clean Out Your Closet, Your Cabinets, and Your Garage
Want to find a way to give this season without having to simultaneously spend? Why not get rid of that sweater you no longer wear, those books you’ve already read, or that vase from your Aunt Mildred that seems to do nothing other than collect dust? Not only does it always feel good to do a little purging, but doing so will also help you create space for any gifts you do receive this holiday season. Conveniently, Goodwill and the Salvation Army are always taking donations, with various drop-off locations all over town. If you have larger pieces, like furniture or home decor you’re wanting to set free, consider donating those pieces to the YWCA’s Re-New Program: their mission is to furnish the homes of women who have survived domestic abuse.
NeedLink Nashville’s Holiday Food Box Program
An organization that helps Nashvillians facing unexpected crises avoid homelessness and remain connected to essentials such as power and water, NeedLink Nashville has been hosting a Holiday Food Box Project since 1912. Way back when, local businessmen delivered baskets of food to the shanty towns that were scattered about the Gulch and along the Cumberland River. Today however, local volunteers deliver more than 300 boxes of food right to the homes of folks who need it. Just $25 is enough to purchase a box for one whole family. So, how can you help?
Donate Food - from jars of peanut butter to boxes of dried pasta, donating food is as simple as adding a few extra items to your cart while at the grocery store.
Load and/or Deliver Food Boxes - spend a few hours sorting and organizing the boxes before they’re sent out to our neighbors who need them.
Donate Money - whether the funds you provide go toward purchasing fresh produce from Second Harvest or they’re used as financial aid for someone in need, your donation will be put to good use.
Click here to learn more about NeedLink and to sign up as a volunteer.
Spread Some Warmth
Baby...it’s cold outside. So when you pile on the layers or wrap that big winter coat around yourself, remember that some people aren’t so lucky. Shelters are in desperate need of items to help keep those who live on the streets warm during the frigid winter months. Socks are always in high demand, as are hats, gloves, scarves, and winter coats. Whether you decide to purchase new items (Coscto is one of our go-to’s for buying new stuff) or donate something that’s gently worn, your extra layers will get put to very good use. Pssst - when it comes to socks, go ahead and purchase new ones to donate; toss your old ones — even if only gently used — into the garbage, please! Nashville’s homeless deserve nice, new socks! Places like the Nashville Rescue Mission and Room In The Inn will gladly accept and distribute your cold weather items.
Also, blankets and towels can help to provide warmth to humans and pets alike, so while doing your winter purging, keep an eye out for those items in particular. You could even stash them in your car so you can offer one directly to someone in need; making that gesture will bring warmth to you and them.
Have a Heart
Holiday giving isn’t just about sharing tangible things. While this time of year is wonderful for some, oftentimes the holidays are difficult for others; what they really need could be as simple as a warm smile or a friendly hello. If your co-worker can’t make it back home for the holidays, invite him or her to join you and your family for dinner. If you know your best friend misses her mother during this time of year, take a minute to acknowledge it and give her the chance to share some memories with you. Or if the person in the checkout line seems a bit frazzled, tired, or just plumb worn out from a long day, simply offer them a smile and a friendly word. Sometimes a little warmth and connection is the best gift of all.