We love how #GivingTuesday has become such a widespread tradition across the US in just two years, and we’ve been thrilled to share some of our favorite ways to give back–on this day and any day. We love promoting our favorite charities and causes, and gifts that give back, but this year, in honor of #GivingTuesday, we’re highlighting family volunteer opportunities.
I can’t think of a better way to balance out the post-Thanksgiving retail focus, and maybe even to start a new tradition for your kids, than to get out there and give back to others. In fact, it’s become a really wonderful aspect of my own family as my kids have grown. So here are some great organizations that can help your family give more than a check this holiday.
This clearinghouse of volunteer needs is a smart place to start any time of the year. From the Volunteer Match search page, enter your zip code and your areas of interest–arts and culture, homeless and housing, animals, seniors, or the environment–to narrow down opportunities.
To make your search even more family-oriented, check off the filter boxes for kids and teens. You can also enter the keyword holiday if you want to limit results to holiday-specific needs.
What I love so much about Volunteer Match is the breadth of opportunities. You’re bound to find something that matches your passion, and even better, awakens a passion in your kids.
Most holiday family sponsorship opportunities are managed through local organizations, so if you’d like to be matched up with a family in your area, I’d recommend starting with an online search. However I’m happy to discover Family-to-Family, a national hunger and poverty relief organization, that coordinates sponsorships in several locations across the US. I love that they offer a few different ways (at varying levels of financial commitment) to sponsor families in need, which means more families like ours can get involved and help each other.
I can’t help it; the name made me snort. But this organization helps fulfill a real need that so many of us just don’t consider: Clean, warm socks. Read the story of how The Joy of Sox got started, and I dare you not to well up.
While the name may be a bit risqué for the elementary school set (not that they’ll get the reference anyway), I think it’s an awesome opportunity to add a giving element to a holiday party, or even high school or college events. Can’t you just see a sorority hosting a Joy of Sox sock drive? Or hey, just shop via Amazon Smile and select The Joy of Sox as your beneficiary.
For an opportunity that allows your kids do nearly all of the work, check out Send Kids the World. It was started by Gerilyn Plunkett, whose daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006 then received tons of cheery mail from all over the world, thanks to a friend of the family. Gerilyn was so touched by this kindness that she wanted to bring the same warm distraction to families in similar circumstances.
Kids can draw pictures and write notes, and then pop them in the mail–addresses are provided on the site for each of the kids on the list. The Send Kids the World site isn’t slick or fancy, and there are no ads; it’s truly a labor of love. It costs so little and takes only a few minutes to participate, but what a difference those notes can make to a child. Don’t we all love receiving personal mail? I can only imagine what it means to these kiddos.
God’s Love We Deliver has long been one of our Editor Liz’s favorite NYC charities, and it’s easy to see why. They do amazing work all year long, bringing meals to homebound adults and children in all five boroughs, plus Hudson County NJ (where I used to live myself) and sites in Newark NJ too.
Beyond their volunteer opportunities in the kitchen and meal delivery, God’s Love holds cool fundraising events throughout the year, sells lovely items in their online shop (we adore the Star of David ornament), and offers other giving opportunities such as Birthday Bake Sales and Tiles for Love, which can be donated in memory of a loved one.
What began as a one little girl’s wish to run a lemonade stand to benefit other kids with cancer like her grew into Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. Our Editor Kristen introduced us to this cool Philly-based charity, and now all of our kids want to hold their own lemonade stands and donate their proceeds. (Yes, even in December.)
Grown-ups can get involved too; Alex’s Lemonade holds lots of special events, like the Lemon Ball gala, the Lemon Society Speakeasy, and National Lemonade Days. They’re also really fitness-oriented, with fundraising opportunities through events like Alex’s Million Mile and Team Lemon. Pretty much anything you and your family like to do together, Alex’s Lemonade has a way to turn it into an awesome fundraising opportunity.
I discovered Family Tree shortly after moving to Denver, and their mission to break the cycle of abuse, violence, and homelessness to become safe, strong, and self-reliant immediately resonated with me. I was especially taken by the House of Hope, where women and children can find a safe place to begin again.
While some of Family Tree’s volunteer needs are limited to professional services provided pro bono, others can be fulfilled by anyone with the time and energy to give. Or check out their wish list of donations, where you can help even if you aren’t local.
Looking for more ways to ways to give back this holiday season? Check out our archives!