Guys, I know some amazing people. November is the time we usually pause to give thanks for our friends and family, our health, and whatever it is we might be thankful for. And I just took a step back and realized that I’ve amassed some pretty spectacular people that I call friends. I put out a casual call through social media for assistance in finding local charities that do great work, and my friends stepped up with enthusiasm and passion about the causes they support. One of the things that I really want to teach my son is the notion of thinking globally but acting locally. I’ve been a little overwhelmed lately by the state of the world, but when I focus on the micro, I begin to see kindness and charity all around.
So here is a small list of some ways I’ve found, with a little help from my friends, to give back to our community. My hope is to start now, in the month when we’re all thinking about it, and to continue throughout the year when it’s not top of mind. Maybe you’ll join me?
If you’re reading this before Thanksgiving, the Grateful Gobbler Walk might be a great option for your family to do something together for a good cause. 100% of the proceeds go to the Maclellan Shelter for Families, and the walk itself has been going on for 18 years, which is a pretty great track record. If you can’t make the event, you can still donate, or give back in other ways through the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. Donations of your time can be just as helpful for nonprofits that rely heavily on volunteers, especially as they typically need more people to volunteer around the holidays.
Another way we often think of giving during this time of year is through toy drives, and this is a significant way to involve our children in charitable giving. While some organizations aren’t necessarily locally-based, they directly impact local children. The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program is one such example. According to their website, the way that the tree works is that you can locate the trees in stores beginning in early November, find an “angel” for whom you would purchase a gift based on the information on the tag, and then take the gift back to the location where you received the tag. If you’re searching for something truly locally based, Northside Neighborhood House does a Christmas Program that serves over 400 children, as does The Samaritan Center, who, for the past several years has partnered with Morning Pointe Senior Living to collect toys for local families in need, and every year they have a “toyland” for children, among their other great programs that you can find here.
If you can’t donate monetarily, or with anything tangible this year, one option is to think outside the box a little and visit an assisted living center with your family. Several years ago, before my friend Jaime moved away, she would organize a group of moms and babies/toddlers every year to go visit a facility on Halloween, all decked out in cute costumes. Obviously a visit doesn’t have to be this elaborate, but, as my fellow blogger Sarah told me, just donating a few hours of her time this Thanksgiving volunteering at a local nursing home is how she’s going to give back to the community with her time this year, and I think it’s a fantastic idea.
Other local organizations that need and happily accept either your time or money are places like Room in the Inn, whose mission “is to empower homeless women and children to become self-sufficient by offering a temporary home while providing programs and services necessary to meet their goals.” Another great resource is the Chambliss Center for Children, who hosts a lot of fun, unique fundraising events throughout the year, as well as volunteering opportunities. Similarly, Bethel Bible Village offers a wide variety of programs for families in crisis. One of my personal favorites is the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Their “Hearts of Gold” ornament program is a great way to give to the charity that allows families to stay close by when a loved one is in the hospital. You can find out more about this specific holiday program here.