I don’t know about you, but this time of year really gets my mind whirling about ways I can teach my children to “pay it forward” – that we as a community are responsible for helping each other and not just ourselves. You don’t have to travel far to find an organization in need – in fact with just a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll find a heap of possibilities from hundreds of organizations in our area.
I recently discovered The Charlotte Observer’s web site has an awesome databank for local charities’ needs during the holidays. You can search by type of donation, type of charity, zip code, or county. This makes it super easy to find something that will be a good fit for your family.
I’ve listed a few organizations below that are near and dear to CSP’s heart. This is by no means an all-inclusive list – I couldn’t possibly list all the organizations out there! Make sure to check with your school, church, YMCA, or other groups to find ways to get your family involved!
A Child’s Place – works to erase the impact of homelessness on children and their education. Volunteers can sponsor a family for the holidays, help pack snack bags for children, and wrap Christmas presents. Donations are also needed for gift cards (Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores), new winter coats (sizes children’s 5 to adults), socks and underwear, toiletries and hygiene items, small items for gifts throughout the year (journals, action figures, movie passes, etc.)
Bright Blessings (Formerly Birthday Blessings) – brings joy and support to homeless children. Every year Bright Blessings delivers holiday cheer to homeless children in December. They recently hosted their 4th annual Stuff-the-Stockings event where volunteers filled more than 700 stockings and winter fun bags for local homeless children. Now you can “Adopt a Tree” for a local homeless child during the holidays. A $10 donation will provide a table-top tree and a set of ornaments & decorations for a homeless child to trim a tree of their very own for the holidays – an otherwise missed tradition for families experiencing homelessness.
Charlotte Family Housing – provides supportive transitional shelter and affordable housing for its families. They are over 100 baskets to distribute to the families we serve. Each basket will contain the following items:
-A family game
-A holiday house decoration
-A family comedy DVD
-Popcorn in a tin or microwave bags
Crisis Assistance Ministry – provides assistance and advocacy for people in financial crisis, helping them move toward self-sufficiency.
Charlotte Rescue Mission – provides residential programs for homeless, jobless men and women with alcohol and drug addiction issues.
Pat’s Place – As the only child advocacy center in Mecklenburg County serving children from birth to age 18, Pat’s Place provides a physical environment where a child’s well-being is the first priority, reducing trauma and promoting healing from sexual abuse. Pat’s Place works with a child and his/her family for weeks, months, or even years to ensure their needs are being met in a wide-range scope rather than prescribed, short-term assistance.
– Journals & fun pens
– Sports-related items
– Board & card games
– 6 oz. Play-Doh
– Bottled water
– Juice boxes
– Healthy, prepackaged snacks
The Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte – provides a “home away from home” for families with children receiving medical care in our pediatric hospitals. Volunteers are needed for every aspect of House operations – from daily in-House tasks and nightly meals to one-time special events and projects. Cash donations or in-kind items/services are also needed. This is a brand new facility in Charlotte – stop by for a tour some time with your kids to check out how awesome it is!
Urban Ministry Center – is an interfaith organization that serves poor and homeless people with love, compassion and tangible help that comes in countless forms. They have a great list of their holiday needs here.
The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte – meets the needs of our community with 15 centers of service and 5 Family Stores with services ranging from emergency assistance, sheltering, 7 Boys & Girls Clubs, adult rehabilitation and disaster relief. The Salvation Army has Angel Trees set up around town where you can “adopt” an “angel” for the holidays. You can also sign up for the virtual Angel Tree. I’ve found that this is a great way to get my kids involved in giving back since they love to pick toys and clothes for others (any chance to be on the toy aisle right?).
Does your family have a tradition of “paying it forward” during the holidays? If so, we’d love to hear some of your ideas!
It’s our favorite time of year in Smartyland ~ that time when we give and give BIG we will! This one will put the swag in your swagger this holiday season as we kick off Santa’s Smarty Swag Bag holiday giveaway. That Claus dude and his pink & green elves were fiercely Smarty this year and put some of the B-E-S-T swag in the ‘ole holiday bag for one lucky reader. Make sure you are signed up for our e-newsletter for your chance to win $600 from our coolest Smarty friends in town! Click here to read ALL the details on this merry treat!