One of the best parts of the holiday season (aside from the endless peppermint goodies, hot cocoa & schnapps and decorative lights pinned up in just about every which way you look) is the happy and generous spirit that somehow manifests itself throughout family, friends and absolute strangers. There really is something special that happens around this time of year and amid all the gift guides, Black Friday/Cyber Monday bonanza sales and the generally superfluous materialism of the holidays, it’s so important to remember that this is a season for giving, helping others and appreciating the people in our lives.
With all the organizations focused on providing shelter, food and toys for those in need, it often feels overwhelming when trying to figure out exactly how and where to donate your time or money. Growing up, my mom and I would always sign up for the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family and help man the Christmas tree lot with my local Campfire Girls Group.
These past few years, I’ve run toy drives for the SF Fire Fighter’s Toy Program. Aimed at providing children ages 12 and under with toys for the holidays, it is the city’s largest drive, providing over 200,000 toys to more than 40,000 children. It’s a great way to bring some holiday cheer to the office or just an excuse to give back (if nothing else, shopping for kids toys always reminds me of my childhood days of Polly Pockets, Tamagotchis and Play Dough).
If toy drives aren’t your thing, here are some other ways to kick off the giving season on the right foot:
~ No Kid Hungry ~
Enter your zip code and you can find ways to “take action” in your neighborhood
~ San Francisco & Marin Food Bank ~
Help out by donating, purchasing $5 holiday cards, hosting your own food drive or volunteering at one of the food banks
~ Girls on the Run ~
Become a running buddy for a young girl and help her cross the finish line at her first 5K on December 7th
~ La Cocina ~
Attend the December 13th Gift Alley and enjoy festive cocktails while wrapping gifts. All proceeds benefit La Cocina, a non-profit providing low-income women and immigrant entrepreneurs with kitchen space, assistance and market opportunities to pursue careers in the food business
How will you give back?