When I was little the city I lived in had a “Christmas Angel Tree”, where you picked off an angel representing a child in need with either “Boy” or “Girl” and the kid’s age on it. Then you bought about $20 - $30 worth of suitable presents for that kid. My Mom and I did that every year.
When I got older I did the Samaritan’s Purse “Operation Christmas Cheer” Shoeboxes, where you pick either boy or girl and the age bracket and fill a shoebox full of suitable things. The shoeboxes then get sent to a developing country for distribution by the Samaritan’s Purse charity there. Then I read an article where the kid’s parents usually sell the contents of those boxes on the black market for money. (You do what you gotta do to survive.)
Now at Christmas I go to the Dollar Store and get a bunch of boxes of doggy pick-up bags, dog treats and cat treats and take them to our local OSPCA and Cat Shelters. Because I personally prefer to donate to “animal” charities than “people” charities.
What Christmas charity donations or volunteer work do you do every year?
I spend ridiculous amounts of money buying Christmas cards from the Humane Society’s Web site instead of buying something off the shelf, and I’m under the impression that a good chunk of that money goes directly to the HSUS and not to the price of the cards.
I don’t have a standard one; I’ve been kind of scattershot in my giving.
Probably the closest ones to standard for me have been my December donations to the Mother Bear Project (hand-knit teddy bears for impoverished kids orphaned by AIDS) and afghans for Afghans (warm hand-knit clothes for children in Afghanistan). I didn’t knit last year, or a few years back when I broke my wrist.
This year I sent a couple big “survival items” stockings for the homeless to a local (Chicago) charity, The Night Ministry. They’re non-denominational, non-discriminatory, and provide a mobile free clinic, counseling, social services efforts, and also make an attempt to serve homeless youth. They’re a wonderful group.
I also love the Red Door Animal Shelter in Chicago, as they specialize in rabbits (my current, much-beloved pets) in addition to dogs and cats. I asked my sister to send them a donation in my name as my present this year; I send donations at other times during the year but haven’t for Christmas.
I hit the Angel trees at work and at church, buying presents for kids. I also have supported various “adopt the troops” programs, buying presents for the kids of Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the past three years, my wife and I go grocery and clothes shopping every year for a church-based organization that helps the poor in a specific Detroit neighborhood. We’ve begun taking our kids and hope to make it a family tradition.
We called the woman who runs it to ask what they specifically need this year, and she said “Everything.” A new law in Michigan is going to push a bunch of people off of welfare in a couple weeks, and organizations like this are going to be overwhelmed.
I heard on our local radio station that Toys for Tots was having a hard time making their goals this year, so I bought toys for them. My in-laws said that they didn’t want presents this year, so I photographed the toys I bought and sent the pic to them telling them that the toys were their “gift” this year.
A friend just sent me this link:
They do legal work for those who can’t afford it otherwise. Seems to be a worthy group and my friend does work for them on a regular basis.
I work in a college and every year they have a “Christmas Giving Tree.” Cards are put on it listing what people in the community need, and I buy them.
I started when I saw a 12-year-old boy asking for a chess set. My thought was that any boy that age who asks for a chess set deserves one.
I donate to Food for the Poor, a non-denominational Christian ministry in Central America and the Caribbean that brings food and builds clean water systems, sanitation systems, orphanages, schools, and clinics in the poorest communities there.
I’m also a bit scattershot.
This year I donated through “Metro Magic” a toy drive in our local daily which is more or less an arm of Toys for Tots, but you get a wishlist of specific items which I tend to prefer over guessing. Its all well and good giving presents, but something they actually want is better.
I also gave to Soccer Without Borders - Baltimore and the School Gardens Initiative.
Toys for Tots and the local food pantry. My grocery store lets you buy gift cards that go to the food pantry, so I do that–they know best what they need.
I’m happy to say that the nearest Toys For Tots bin has been overflowing every time I’ve gone past it this season.
I always give reasonable donations at Christmas to St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army.
Primarily I support a local food pantry based through my church – there has been a huge increase in individuals needing to use it and some of the sources for lower cost food have dried up. At Chrstimas/Thanksgiving, they do specific “holiday” type meal baskets and also for Christmas distribute toys so I did my toy donation through them this year rather than Toys for Tots.
I like Toys for Tots, but the drop off boxes at my place of work were NOT secure. I had seen multiple people “taking home” toys from the drop off places and instead of the usual coordinator (who would accept checks) supervising the one this year insisted on cash only… there were just some red flags there that not all the items/donations were really going to make it to Toys for Tots…
You know that most of the money that goes to the HSUS doesn’t go to shelters or animals, right?
My charities are locals, and I really wish that national charities who advertise around Christmas would quit running such downer ads. I see maybe five hours of TV a day and am really sick of seeing starving children, cancer patients and starving/abused animals. Not exactly holiday cheer…
Aside from the coins that go into the Salvation Army kettles, I make annual donations to the local Humane Society, and to the Marian Clinic, a clinic for the working poor without medical insurance.
The Angel Tree, Smile Train (which provides surgery to correct cleft palates and cleft lips), Covenant House (which helps teenagers in trouble), and Heifer International (which provides farm animals to the poor).
I made scarves for a grandmother and her three grandkids. Their mother is in jail for defrauding an old woman she was supposed to be taking care of (she worked at one of those home health agencies). Pretty fucked up all around. Grandma can’t afford to buy the kids proper winter clothing