The holiday season provides an ideal time to spread cheer not just to those we love, but also to those less fortunate. From providing Christmas gifts to children to helping the homeless, there are numerous ways to give back to the community and make the holidays happier for everyone.
Nonprofit organizations need your help to make others’ holiday dreams come true. Here are some programs where you can help make an impact at this time of year as well as year round.
The Giving Tree Program
The Giving Tree Program (formerly Angels Tree) brings holiday joy to children who would likely have no gifts under the tree without its involvement. The Community Outreach Committee of the North Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce spearheads this initiative, which has grown tremendously over the years.
Working with various nonprofit organizations, the chamber receives the Christmas wish lists of the individuals that each nonprofit serves. Local businesses, known as ambassadors, display the wish lists on tags in their businesses where individuals can take a tag and fulfill the wish list.
“We have 30 ambassadors to date and possibly more coming,” said Kelvin Mack, marketing and membership director of the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber of Commerce, adding that the chamber is always working on getting more ambassadors to participate.
Check out the list of ambassadors above, then stop in and grab a tag that will bring a smile to a child on Christmas morning.
Light of Life
Since 1952, the Christian-based, nonprofit Light of Life organization has assisted men, women, and families experiencing homelessness, poverty, or addiction. Throughout the year, the organization presents special projects where groups or families can work together to fulfill a need for those receiving assistance.
The Christmas Cookie Project links families—including single moms and their children—through a favorite holiday pastime. People are encouraged to put on their baking aprons and bake five dozen cookies of any variety, then place them in a nonreturnable plastic container that Light of Life will be able to freeze. If you include your recipes for the women served by the mission, they can bake the cookies with their children, too.
For men in the program, winter months are especially difficult with the cold temperatures. To help, consider creating a Winter Survival Kit with your group. The kit should include new items, including hats, gloves or mittens, scarves, long underwear, lip balm and a big pack of chewing gum.
Once you have your donation complete, contact the volunteer team at email@example.com to arrange delivery of your gift. There are numerous kits to choose from including craft kits for children, family movie night baskets, and women’s care baskets. Monetary donations are also welcome. For more information, visit the website at https://www.lightoflife.org/get-involved/special-projects/.
The Children’s Home Pittsburgh
Founded in 1893, The Children’s Home is an independent nonprofit with a mission to promote the health and well-being of infants and children through services that establish and strengthen the family.
The organization offers four programs: Adoption, Child’s Way®, Pediatric VIEW and the Pediatric Specialty Hospital, along with free housing for patients and families in the on-site Lemieux Family Center.
The Children’s Home maintains an Amazon wish list sharing their current needs. You can choose from a wide variety of items including baby clothes, art supplies, infant car seats, toys and—if your budget permits—an Apple iPad Air. Prices range from less than $10 to around $650, providing opportunities for everyone to help.
If you prefer not to shop through Amazon, new clothing, toys, highchairs, bouncers, bottles and more are welcome. The Children’s Home Pittsburgh also welcomes new or gently used books. Monetary donations are always welcome. Visit the website for details and for a link to the Amazon wish list. https://www.childrenshomepgh.org/ways-to-help/wish-list/
In 2011, Megs Yunn met a young girl named Beverly at a local afterschool program. As Yunn helped her with her reading homework, Beverly had to use the word “accustomed to” in a sentence. Not knowing the meaning of the word, Yunn asked Beverly what people are accustomed to eating at birthday parties, and Beverly responded that she had never had one. That moment inspired Yunn to found Beverly’s Birthdays. Since 2012, the organization has sponsored thousands of birthdays for children experiencing homelessness and families in need.
During the holiday season, Beverly’s Birthdays spreads even more cheer through an annual Virtual Holiday Toy Drive. Through Dec. 31, the organization has a goal to collect $10,000 in new toys to celebrate the end of its milestone tenth year. Choose and purchase the toys you would like to donate from their online list, and the toys will be shipped directly to Beverly’s Birthdays at the end of the campaign. The toys range in price from $5 to $20, making this a budget-friendly way to help a worthy organization.
Also, on Sat., Dec. 17 from dawn to dusk, Beverly’s Birthdays will host its second annual Fill Our Truck with Holiday Cheer at North Huntingdon Square, Route 30, Irwin, PA 15642. Stop by with new, unwrapped, small to medium toys and baby care items to support the thousands of children they serve. This cheery holiday event includes holiday music, refreshments and fun surprises. For information on the event and the virtual toy drive, visit http://beverlysbirthdays.org/get-involved-2/.