Give Back for the Holidays

The holiday season is magical, festive, cheery, filled with twinkle lights, carols, candy canes, and holly. It is the perfect time to show loved ones how you care with thoughtful gestures. It is also a good time to extend that thoughtfulness and generosity to those who may not be having such a merry season. Here are some fun ways to spread cheer throughout your local community:
  • Consider organizing a toy, clothing, or food drive in your neighborhood, school, office, or place of worship.
  • Check with your county for organizations to donate to. Decorate a local facility or shelter for the holidays. Reach out to one in your community to see how you can help.
  • Make some baked goods. Gather a big group of friends or neighbors to whip up some festive treats to deliver to a local facility, fire department, or police station.
  • Create some holiday cards and deliver to various organizations, such as hospitals, veterans centers, shelter, or the armed services. Remember to be respectful of different traditions and celebrations.
If you are in the DC area, check out these local organizations that are doing good during the holidays and all year long:
  • The Holiday Project - The organization arranges visits to people in nursing homes, hospitals and other residential institutions in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware. Volunteers provide attention, conversation and companionship to those who would not otherwise have a celebration during the holiday season.
  • Food & Friends - This organization provides meals to support men, women, and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. Volunteers are needed to help in the kitchen as well as to make deliveries.
  • Adopt-a- Family Program - The holiday program is run by the Jewish Social Service Agency and organizes volunteers to collect gifts for the needy. JSSA provides eldercare services, Meals on Wheels for the elderly, early childhood intervention for developmental disabilities, services to people with autism and their families, hospice care, mental health services, support to people with all types of disabilities, and more.
  • Carpenter's Shelter - Northern Virginia's largest homeless shelter, serving 1,000 people annually, needs volunteers to sponsor homeless children and adults for holiday gifts; contribute to the shelter's holiday party by sponsoring or serving refreshments; cook and serve dinner a week before and after Christmas; work at the hospitality desk (day and evening hours); and work evenings at the winter shelter. Needed donations include cereal, coffee, powdered drink mixes, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, diapers and other toiletries. 
  • Offender Aid and Restoration - Volunteers and donations are needed to assist Project Christmas Angel, an outreach to children whose parents will not be home for the holidays because of incarceration. Financial contributions are needed to offset the cost of postage and wrapping supplies.
  • Shirlington Employment and Education Center - The center, which assists low-income residents with job placement and computer and English skills, needs winter boots, jackets, thermal pants, gloves and calling cards. Items are needed for at least 1,000 people.