Friday, November 22, 2013

Holidays Are Here: Remember To Think Of Others

There is a week until Thanksgiving and I just want to take a moment to send a reminder out into the universe about how many families this year won't be able to afford to provide a Thanksgiving meal to their children and relatives. Families that rely on food stamps saw a reduction in their allotment this month and are feeling the pinch more than ever- especially if they're also trying to save up to give their children a "normal" Christmas.

 In addition to this, many families in the Midwest- especially here in Illinois- are in the midst of dealing with the horrific fall-out of last weekend's tornadoes and severe weather. Many homes were lost and even more were just damaged enough to disrupt the holidays.

When looking into setting up an office food donation box this week, my co-worker and I were startled to see just how many items were listed as being completely unavailable or in low supply at our local food bank, despite it being in a rather affluent area and connected to a very affluent church group.

So, please, when you are shopping for your Thanksgiving supplies in the coming week, take the extra few seconds to grab a few extra canned goods to donate to the grocery store's food donation box. I've listed below the items that our food bank was requesting for the holiday season specifically, as a starting point. You can find out what is needed in your area by visiting's Food Bank Locator and locating your local food banks.

 Holiday Food Donations Items:
Store Gift Certificates/Cards (so that families can purchase a perishable turkey or ham)
1-3lb (non-refrigerated) canned hams
egg noodles
boxed/instant potatoes
boxed/bagged stuffing mix
canned yams or sweet potatoes
canned gravy or broth
canned fruit or applesauce
canned green beans
canned corn
cream of mushroom soup
canned pumpkin
canned cranberry sauce
Jell-O and pudding mixes
brownie mix
canned pie filling
You can find more information on appropriate food donations and how to give in other ways (virtual food drives, monetary donations, volunteering, ect) on as well.

And, as we enter the holiday shopping season, I just want to re-list all the ways you can give a little back as you save money on all the pre-Black Friday and Black Friday sales (mostly taken from last year's Black Friday post, where I tried to turn my unhappiness with the lack of support for the Walmart strike into lemonade). In addition to these, remember that at any stores displaying the signature lime green logo, you can also donate to St. Jude's at the register along with your purchase.

And remember that as it is the holiday season, to carry spare change in your pockets for the Salvation Army bell ringer collection buckets outside of stores!
  • Toys For Tots bins should be out already at many stores. If you're at Toys 'R' Us in the next month, remember to grab two of whatever toy you were buying and put one in the bin. Or donate via paypal directly on the TfT site! Remember that they are always short on gifts for pre-teen and teenage girls! Also, if you know a child-in-need you can also find information on the site on how to get a toy for them.
  • The Red Cross, in addition to being one of the best ways to donate funds towards relief work for both the recent typhoon and the recent tornadoes (in addition to any other global disasters that will always strike), is always a good option for when you don't have money to spare but want to give back in some way. Volunteer for them or donate blood and platelets rather than money. Platelets only have a 5 day shelf life and are ALWAYS in demand! The site will point you towards where you can go in your area to donate and make sure to check the eligibility FAQ for donating blood before you go.
  • Goodwill is ideal for both saving money AND for donating. Board games are always cheaper at Goodwill (just check that they have all their pieces) and remember to head there first if you're looking for Christmas decorations or seasonal clothing that you're not likely to wear more than once or twice (i.e. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party items). And as you're getting gifts this year, start taking note of items in your house that you're not using anymore but you know that others might appreciate and donate them to Goodwill.

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