Nine Ways to Help Charities at Christmas
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Nine Ways to Help Charities at Christmas

Helping a charity at Christmas is easy. More can be done to help a charity than writing a check (although that's ok too).

Helping a charity at Christmas isn’t hard. Plenty of opportunities are available. Charities that help feed and clothe the less fortunate or take in the homeless and victims of domestic violence do so because they feel that they are responding to a great need. As the executive director of a nonprofit I can tell you that we do fill those gaps. Many charitable organizations operate on a shoestring budget and are flooded with clients at Christmas and during the winter months of January and February.

You may feel like helping a charity at Christmas but aren’t sure how. The following list is drawn from my personal experience with more than 15 years in the nonprofit field.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #1

Donate your clean used clothing and household items that are in workable condition. That old toaster oven that you no longer use may become the only way a family has to cook a meal. Everyone needs clothing. In the winter good quality clean blankets may make the difference between life and death to a homeless person.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #2

One of the most heartbreaking moments for me was when a child started crying in shelter. It was a few days before Christmas. The child was about 7-8 years old and was afraid that Santa wouldn’t be able to find him anymore.

Programs like Toys for Tots accept new toys, as do shelters. If it’s late in the season and you haven’t helped yet, go ahead and call a homeless shelter or battered women’s program. They may have late arrivals who aren’t on Santa’s list.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #3

Get involved. Feed the hungry. Sort clothes. Wrap presents. Contact the charity ahead of time. Find out what the needs are and how you can help. They may have special programs during the holiday season where extra hands are needed.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #4

Write a check. Many charities are especially cash-strapped from Thanksgiving through the first of the year and beyond. Even a small check of $5 can help make a difference.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #5

Donate a gift card. Grocery store gift cards can be used to provide a meal for a family during the holidays. Other gift cards can be used throughout the year. Unused gift cards are especially appreciated. Our organization also accepted fast food and Wal-mart gift cards with only a few dollars on them.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #6

Small food pantries may have a hard time staying stocked. Donating food directly to them saves them the cost of purchasing food from the local food bank.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #7

Get your friends involved. If you are going to a shelter to serve a meal take a few friends along with you. You’ll have more fun but you’ll also get more work done. Be sure to complete any needed background checks and arrange everything with the charity you are helping. No doubt, they’ll be glad to have the extra hands!

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #8

Cause shop. Do your online shopping through iGive, Goodshop or other charity mall. The prices are the same whether or not you shop through these links. If you do use them the charity you select gets a tiny portion of the proceeds. The two links mentioned above have a huge list of stores to choose from and most are leading brands.

Helping a Charity at Christmas Idea #9

Tell the world through social media. Use Twitter to tell your tweeple, blog about the experience, post it to your Facebook or MySpace page. Let the world know that you are making a difference, and others will be inspired to help too.

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