One remarkable aspect of the holiday season is the overwhelming showcase of generosity towards those less fortunate. While it’s important to give back throughout the year, helping others during the holidays is especially important. Many families and individuals are struggling to make ends meet, and the holiday season can increase their stress and worry. Fortunately, there is a multitude of ways you can give back to those in need, whether by action or donation. If you don’t know where to start, we have a few easy and fun ideas to bring kindness, hope, and holiday cheer.
Feed the Hungry
Unfortunately, there are many Americans who are struggling to put food on the table, and financial stressors only make it more difficult to stay nourished. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 12.8 percent (17.0 million) of U.S. households were food insecure at some point in 2022. This year, you can provide a holiday meal to a family – or multiple families – who would not be able to have one otherwise.
North Texas Food Bank is a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to close the hunger gap in North Texas by providing access to nutritious food. They help 13 counties in the area – Dallas, Denton, Collin, Fannin, Rockwall, Grayson, Hunt, Kaufman, Ellis, Navarro, Lamar, Delta, and Hopkins. The following are their most needed items:
- Peanut Butter, 16 oz, not mixed with other things like jelly, honey, chocolate
- Canned Fruit, 14-16 oz
- Shelf-stable Milk, 8 oz, not flavored with chocolate, vanilla, strawberry
- Canned Tuna, 5 oz
- Canned Chicken, 5 oz
- Low-sodium Canned Vegetables, 15-16 oz
- Trail Mix, 1-2 oz bags
*Please do not donate any items in glass containers.
Donate Toys and Clothes
Even though the holidays are a wonderful time of year to celebrate, have fun, and receive gifts, many families struggle to give gifts to each other. Toy drives not only help children and families in need have a wonderful Christmas but showcase the generosity at this time of year.
Started by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots is an annual program that distributes toys to children whose parents cannot afford to buy them gifts for Christmas. The organization has many drop-off locations around the DFW area for new, unwrapped toys for children ages 0-12. Check the website for a list of drop-off locations, and be sure to call before you go!
Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center’s Holiday of Hope provides gifts, toys, and necessities for those affected by child abuse. Each year, the organization offers current DCAC clients and their siblings brand-new gifts and toys. Each child receives a reading book, a fuzzy blanket, and 3-4 age-appropriate gifts. In addition, all families receive 1-2 board games to play together. The program is for children ages 0-17; please see their website for the most requested toys and gift ideas for each age range.
Texas Scottish Rite for Children’s Hospital collects games, books, craft supplies, and patient necessities. These items provide our patients with tools that keep them intellectually stimulated and emotionally at ease before, during, and after treatment and therapies. Visit their Patient Wishlist on Amazon.com or view the Dallas and Frisco Campus Wishlist for ideas on developmentally appropriate items kids would love.
Random Acts of Kindness
Little acts of kindness have a tremendous impact and can be done without spending too much money or time. Here are a few ways to help someone in your community:
- Arrange for lunch or dinner to be delivered to essential workers in different fields, including healthcare workers in hospitals, teachers, firefighters, emergency responders, and police officers. Not only does it provide them with a delicious and nutritious meal, it’s a simple yet wonderful way to thank them for all they do.
- Deliver handwritten cards to senior citizens in nursing homes. Sometimes, elderly patients can’t be near their families during the holidays, so delivering a note with words of hope, encouragement, and love can help lift their spirits. If the nursing home lets you consider visiting for a little bit with some of the residents.
- Donate free Christmas trees to military families. Please help support the armed forces by donating to the Christmas Spirit Foundation. This organization provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families.
- To help the marginalized and most vulnerable communities in your area, create care packages for those experiencing homelessness and/or poverty. The following are the most requested items: socks and underwear, tissues and bandages, toothpaste and toothbrushes, hand wipes, feminine products, and other essential toiletries.
Helping Animals in Need
We can’t forget our four-legged friends during the holiday season! One way to help animals is by donating to local animal shelters. Animal organizations are always in need of monetary donations to provide crucial support for food, medicine, and veterinary treatments. You can also donate items to animal shelters, including toys, blankets, sheets, and treats. Please consult with the local animal shelter to find what they need most.
Giving an animal the gift of a forever home is a fantastic way to make a difference in their lives. Not only do you give them a loving home, but you add a new, cute, and utterly lovable member to your family. Some excellent animal shelters include the SPCA of Texas, Legacy Humane Society, and Operation Kindness. All of these organizations have a multitude of cats, dogs, horses, and small animals who are looking for a wonderful family to adopt them!