Between presents, food and drink, the holidays are often a time of excess. But this time of year also brings with it opportunities to give back, and there are so many ways to help others right in your own community. Whether you want to give clothing, presents or money, there are many organizations that need help. Plus, when you take time to lend a hand, you’re also teaching your kids important lessons about the true meaning of the season.
At Oasis, a Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, volunteers can help in so many ways, from serving lunch to helping women prepare for the US citizenship exam to providing childcare for their little ones while they receive an education.
Survivors of domestic violence need support, too, so reach out to Women Aware of Middlesex County or the Center for Hope and Safety in Bergen County. You can host a Dress-Down Day or create a restaurant or Facebook fundraising page.
You can sign up to receive a child’s wish list through Jersey Cares’ Frosty’s Friends. By fulfilling a child in need’s gift request, your own child will see Christmas presents in a new light. Spread some warmth by donating a coat to Jersey Cares’ Coat Drive, which runs from Nov. 7 to Jan. 8. Helpers are also needed to sort coats.
The Salvation Army has its Red Kettle program, or you can apply to its Adopt-a-Family program to help a family that’s less fortunate with tangible needs during Christmas. The virtual fundraiser that began during the pandemic is still in effect, in case you don’t see volunteers out in public.
If your family loves animals, you can volunteer at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center. Some positions require volunteers to be 18 or older, so check with the center about ways to pitch in.
The United Way is also looking for people to spread holiday cheer, donate clothing, money and gift cards to those in need. All volunteer positions are currently virtual but there are still many ways you and your family can make a big impact.
Many food banks and religious organizations request donations of food baskets prior to Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Consider buying a turkey, baking a pie or possibly driving/delivering the meals to a family or senior citizen in need of some company this holiday season. HomeFront will accept baskets for Thanksgiving from 9am-3pm weekdays and 9am-12pm Saturdays at 1880 Princeton Ave., Lawrence Twp.
You can also support a diaper drive since some families need the basic necessities even moreso during holiday time. The third annual Baby Diapers & Essentials Drop will be held Nov. 5 at Smithburg Farms in Manalapan. Diapers, formula, new onesies, baby soap, blankets and accessories are needed. You could also reach out to the Central Jersey Diaper Bank in New Brunswick to see what their requests are year-round.
Liquid Church is hosting five meal packing programs across the state Dec. 2-3. Help pack 1 million meals for the hungry.
Not all help has to come in the form of a check or online donation, and not all volunteer opportunities need to be organized. Sometimes a simple act of kindness, such as checking in on elderly neighbors to see if they need help with running an errand or clearing snow from their driveway, or visiting with a senior at a local center can make the greatest impact. This holiday season we challenge you to get out of your comfort zone and check in on those around you. Isolation is the hardest part of the holidays for many people so even if you can’t make a monetary gift, give the gift of your time!