The pandemic has taken its toll on each of us in so many different ways—millions of people have lost their jobs, homes, and loved ones. Needless to say, the upcoming holiday season may well feel quite different than the merry and jolly time that typically denotes the end of the year.
Holiday get-togethers are going to be much smaller. Many large retailers have already pulled back on being open during their usual Black Friday hours. And the holiday smiles won’t fill the streets as they usually do as they’ll be covered with masks.
With so many changes occurring, this year poses the perfect opportunity to find ways to give back this holiday season – even if it’s from home. That’s exactly why this year, it’s especially important to know how to safely support local communities, groups, families, and marginalized people who need extra help, love, and care during the 2020 holiday season.
Here are a number of tips for how to give back during the holidays in the midst of a pandemic.
1. Write letters to essential workers and the elderly
Write “thank you” letters to health-care and frontline workers, holiday cards to seniors in retirement homes, or notes of encouragement to those who may be experiencing intense feelings of loneliness or anxiety this upcoming winter. Check out organizations like Letters Against Depressionand Letters of Love.
2. Food banks need your help this holiday season
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a chilling effect on food banks. Donations are down and food costs are soaring, meaning charities have fewer items to distribute. Meanwhile, the need today is higher than during the 2008 recession, at least according to one estimate. Get involved with a local non-profit that cooks and distributes Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. And, always consider donating food staples to food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens. IECRM’s neighbor, The Immaculate Heart of Mary Stewardship Center, serves the Northglenn community in need. Their greatest need is grocery gift cards in $15-$20 denominations since they have received adequate COVID relief funds for food.
3. Donate through a charity that resonates with you
There are many organizations, both locally and globally, that encourage people to get involved and donate to charitable causes. The holiday season is an ideal time to give back to those in need. Find a cause that means something to you, and donate if you can. Check out the Salvation Army, CSL Plasma, and the American Red Cross. Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 8, 2020 – a day that many nonprofit organizations receive matching grants for donations made up to that date.
4. Support causes you care about on social media
Social media has the power to boost awareness for, and positively affect, important causes. So, this holiday season, share and promote the charities and causes that you believe in by signal boosting on your various platforms. Use Facebook Marketplace to purchase items or holiday gifts from small business owners and neighbors in your local area who may need the extra bucks in their pockets.
5. Volunteer (with social distancing in mind)
It’s hard to say how many opportunities for volunteering will pop up this year while organizations try to respect social distancing guidelines. Whether it’s a soup kitchen, church, or dog shelter, put your name on a list to help out around the holidays. You can also participate in local charity drives, events, and workshops held by various organizations that work on different social justice issues like domestic abuse, etc.
6. Offer your services for free in a virtual space
Take your skills to the internet, and host Zoom workshops and online events to benefit your community. Lead yoga classes or meditation sessions. Edit résumés for unemployed job seekers. If you’re a writer and have the availability, create content for nonprofits and organizations in need. No matter your skill set, you are likely able to offer a service to folks in need.
7. Buy holiday gifts from brands that give back
If buying (or sending) holiday gifts for friends and family is still on your radar, double down by purchasing them from organizations that will give back on your behalf. Below are a few ideas:
Gift a backpack to your friend who loves to hike from Adventurist Backpack Co., which provides meals to families in need by partnering with non-profit Feeding America.
Send scented Pomegranate and Champagne candles to your family from Bright Endeavors, which hires young mothers from marginalized communities and trains them to handcraft sustainable soy candles as a means to cultivate economic security (with 100 percent of proceeds going back to the program).
Have you been invited to an intimate gathering that you may or may not attend? Bring or send drinks from bottled-water brand Live To Give, which donates 50 percent of its net profits to charities that support veterans, first responders, and their families; or Sierra Nevada, which is donating $1 million to community non-profits from Dankful IPA beer purchases.
8. Pack up clothes for a donation center
You’re likely spending more time indoors now that the cold weather is here. Why not set aside some time to go through your closet and get rid of the clothes you haven’t put on in years? Make a pile for what stays and another for what goes – if the latter is in good shape, take everything you collect to your local donation center.
9. Be kind
Above all else, practice gratitude and kindness this holiday season. You can do this by engaging in friendly conversation with (or expressing a heartfelt thank you to) the cashier at your grocery store, showing extra compassion to your co-workers during virtual work meetings, and packing homemade gift baskets and dropping them off on the doorsteps of friends’ and neighbors’ homes, are just a few examples. You never know what people are going through, and this especially rings true throughout 2020. A little bit of positivity can go a long way and help to spread some much-needed cheer during the end of a very challenging year.