Volunteering is important all year long, but during the holidays many charities need extra help. From answering a child’s letter to Santa or helping deliver holiday meals to people coping with illness, here are five great ways to give back this season.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with God’s Love We Deliver for years. They make and deliver free, personalized meals to people in New York living with serious illnesses. Normally they deliver 4,600 meals a day; on Thanksgiving and Christmas that number jumps to 6,000. During the holidays God’s Love needs extra volunteers to prep, cook, and deliver meals decorated in special holiday bags by local elementary and high school students. To decorate bags or help with meals, sign up here. If you aren’t in NYC, another way to help is to sponsor a holiday meal for as little as $10. Donate here.
Project Sunshine brings programming in the arts, education, and social services to over 100,000 children fighting diseases around the world. Dedicated to bringing hope, joy, and a sense of normalcy to hospitalized children, Project Sunshine does especially crucial work during the holidays. The organization is in need of toy and book donations through January to be distributed to children in medical facilities around the country. For more information and other ways you can get involved, click here
Operation Santa is run by the US Postal Service and connects gift-givers with letter-writers, specifically those trying to get ahold of Santa Claus. In NYC, volunteers respond to more than 500,000 letters a year. To participate go to your local Post Office and select as many letters as you would like to respond to. Return to the post office with the gift and pay the postage for the package and the Post Office will deliver it. Nationwide the program is known as Letters to Santa and works the same way.
New York Cares Coat Drive With drop-off bins set up at stores and police stations citywide, it couldn’t be easier to give a gently used coat to someone who needs it. NY Cares partners with social service organizations, schools, churches, and homeless shelters to quickly distribute coats. The drive runs through February 7th. Click here to find a drop-off location near you.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital The world-famous cancer treatment center accepts donations for the betterment of its patients and facilities year-round, but the holidays are an especially important time to give. Donations of new toys—from video games to Legos—as well as art supplies, stickers, headphones, and activity books are all on the hospital’s “wish list.” Monetary donations may be made online here or by check made payable to MSKCC - Pediatrics. Call 212-639-2285 to schedule a donation in person, or send a gift to :
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Department of Pediatrics, c/o Rachel Corke Room C900, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065
First Book Over the past 20 years First Book has distributed over 100 million new books to children across the United States and Canada. By partnering with 50,000 schools and programs in low income communities, First Book has reached the children who are most in need. For just $50 you can provide a year’s worth of bedtime stories for families in need. Read about my partnership with First Book here to donate any amount and provide books for those who need them most.