With the winter holidays just around the corner, many people are taking the opportunity to consider how we can give back to others in a year that’s been marked by unprecedented challenges to our health, our jobs and our communities at large.
It’s also been a tough year for charities. Many non-profits have had to cancel in-person fundraising events, which traditionally make up a large part of their financial support. And yet, vulnerable populations are in need of help, now more than ever.
How can you give back? Here are a few ideas on how to help in the run-up to holiday season, or any time of the year.
With numerous disruptions to our everyday lives, fewer and fewer people in 2020 have been taking the time to donate blood. National drop-offs in blood donation have been recorded – even as the need for blood continues to grow.
The American Red Cross encourages eligible people to consider making a donation to help prevent blood shortages today, and in the future. Donated blood is key to help people who are undergoing surgery; who’ve been the victim of a serious accident; or are being treated for a medical condition. Blood donation centers are taking precautions to ensure hygiene and safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic, so if you are able to donate blood, you might think about making this important contribution.
If there’s a charity you’d like to support, but you don’t personally have cash to donate, why not focus on raising funds? The holiday season is a great time of year to set up charity fundraisers that get the whole community working together to support others.
Consider organizing a holiday gift fair where people can donate unwanted items from their home to sell, with all profits going to a charity. If putting together an in-person event isn’t possible due to COVID precautions, an online holiday gift sale could work just as well. Many people also fundraise for charity by performing a personal challenge; for example, running a race, jumping into an ice-cold lake, or even just growing a mustache. The key is to choose your challenge and get friends, family and other people to sponsor you, with donations going to your selected non-profit. If it’s a success, you might inspire others to embark on their own challenge for charity!
Donate Money to Food Pantries
With record job loss over the past few months, many families in the US are struggling to put food on the table. Feeding America reports that 50 million people will experience hunger because of COVID-19 and that food banks around the country are seeing an increase of approximately 60% in terms of people seeking help.
While donating shelf-stable foods to your local food bank is a wonderful thought, the best way to help at this time is to give a financial donation instead. This is because the process of sorting and packing food drive donations has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, putting new limitations on food bank staff. Feeding America suggests setting up a virtual food drive instead, where you can gather community support to raise funds for a local food bank. Ultimately, every food bank has different needs, so get in touch with your nearest organization to learn more about how you can help.
Support the Elderly
Older adults are facing a number of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. With increased risk for contracting the disease, many have had to drastically reduce social interactions and may be finding themselves cut off from regular healthcare services.
You can support elderly people in your community by firstly checking in with older friends and family to see what they need. They may appreciate help to set-up telehealth appointments if unable to visit their usual doctor, or they might just want the opportunity for a socially distanced conversation. Check in with a senior non-profit in your area and see what else might be useful, as many organizations can benefit from support in terms of fundraising, technology support and so on.
Stay Informed About Your City
Every city, neighborhood and community has a different set of needs. To understand more about where your support can best be of use, keep up to date on where the most pressing areas of need are and how people like you can make a difference.
Check in with the City of Boston online to see what’s happening, such as the recent efforts to respond proactively to the health, safety and care needs of homeless people in extreme cold weather conditions. If there’s a homeless shelter in your area, get in touch and see if there’s any additional help or donations you can offer to support people who might be vulnerable to cold weather or other challenges in the upcoming months.