In the spirit of the holiday season, there are so many ways to give back and to make the holidays merry and bright for the less fortunate. We all see the Salvation Army volunteers outside of our favorite stores collecting change, but there are many more programs out there that support families in the local community.
Often times, children in foster care are the ones who hurt the most during this season. For whatever reason, they are displaced from their families, living in a stranger's home, possibly celebrating new traditions and are not around their extended family. While most foster families try to make the holidays as smooth as possible, sometimes they simply cannot afford Christmas gifts.
Angel Tree is a great program that provides clothing and toys to foster children and children of families who cannot afford Christmas gifts. Recipients register for the gifts and go through a screening process to ensure that they are not served through other programs. You can find individual personalized wish lists on a Christmas tree in the malls and your local Wal-Mart. If you do not want to be tasked with providing everything on the wish list, you could also donate your time to help organize and distribute the gifts or make a donation to the program.
Coats for the Cold is another great local program. Spearheaded by Knox Area Rescue Ministries, this program accepts and distributes gently used or new coats to people in need of a warm winter coat. Those in need can pick up a coat voucher from local churches or service providers, then can use the voucher to get a coat during the drive. To learn more, please visit http://karm.org/get-involved/events/coats-for-the-cold/ .
Many people think about gifts around this time of year, but so many local families are in need of a meal, or perhaps a holiday dinner to share with their family. Many kids go hungry because they are out of school for an extended period of time and do not even receive a warm meal every day. Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee is a wonderful organization who will work with the donor to accept donations in many ways. You can donate non-perishable food items, money, or your time. You can also organize food drives with your company, school, church, or any other organization.
Finally, the best way to give back this holiday season is to share your time. You can visit elderly in the local nursing homes who do not have family members nearby. You can help serve a meal to the homeless. You can volunteer at a local animal shelter.
Please leave information about your favorite organization in the comment section. Remember this season to slow down and enjoy time with your loved ones. From all of us here at Breeding and Henry we wish you a very merry holiday season.