It’s that time of year again, folks: the time for holiday cheer, ugly sweater parties, “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” and other holiday jams on the radio. We’re decorating our homes, hanging ornaments, and getting the warm, fuzzy feeling that the holidays bring—the one that reminds of us of the importance of being kind, giving, and thinking of others.
It’s easy to think of our families and friends, but what if we gifted smiles to strangers and spread cheer to those who need it?
The holidays don’t always bring joy, especially for children and families in need—orphans, homeless families, sick kids spending the holidays in hospitals, just to name a few. Luckily, there are local and national organizations, dedicated to supporting the less fortunate seasonally and year-round. The focus of most of these organizations now is making the holidays better for these families through fundraising, toy drives, and meal-serving among other things.
- The S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Program collects brand new toys and monetary donations October-December. Come December, these gifts are given to needy kids in the community. This is a national program hosted by local U.S. Marine Corps chapters. For more info on how to donate and participate in this program, click here.
- The Family Resource Center of South Florida, which provides a range of services and care for children of neglect or abuse, is collecting unwrapped toys and gift cards. Their Holiday Gift Drive is coming up on December 9th. They also match sponsors to foster kids and their holiday wish list items. Get involved by visiting their website or by calling 305-960-5525.
- The Salvation Army provides Christmas meals, clothes, and toys to needy families in local areas. They also have volunteers give out gifts in hospitals and nursing homes. Find a drop-off location nearby and all volunteer opportunities by visiting satruck.org.
- The Neighbors 4 Neighbors program hosts the Adopt a Family program, which turns 25 this year. This program gives families the opportunity to give gifts to the families or children they “adopt” through the program. They also welcome donations of money and gift to administer. (neighbors4neighbors.org)
Aside from donating through existing organizations, you can also set up your own toy drive. All it takes is a little planning, starting with date-setting and coordinating a drop-off location. Depending on the size of your toy drive, you’ll consider advertising using promo materials, word of mouth, or through social media. Once the collection is done, you can deliver it to the non-profit of your choice, including one of the organizations listed above or any other local non-profits.
If you’re thinking about your New Year’s resolution, take this as your opportunity to start early and spread the holiday joy. There’s opportunity anywhere you look, whether it means donating your time or your resources for the sake of paying it forward and making others’ holidays just as happy.
By Aura Altamiranda