1. Project H.O.M.E.
Recently my job did a Secret Santa (Pollyanna) gift exchange for Christmas. I picked one of the manager’s names from the hat. My supervisor did some investigation to see what she would like ($20 limit). Here is how she responded, “For me, let’s donate $20 to a shelter … or buy a toy and drop it in one of the many collections around the city. Either of those things would make me happy.”
A friend at my workplace told me about Project H.O.M.E. (shout out to Kenny). When I learned that their mission is to stop homelessness in Philadelphia and that they accept online donations, it seemed like a great fit for my Secret Santa task. In fact, if you see a homeless person on the street, you can actually call their “Homeless Outreach Hotline” at (215) 232-1984, and they will spring into action to help the person. (Homeless persons can call as well toll-free to 1-877-222-1984.)
2. Impact Services Corporation (“Impact”)
The day after our Secret Santa exchanges, I got an e-mail from my job about their annual coat drive. Each year the firm where I work asks for donations of “gently used” men’s, women’s or children’s winter coats that are no longer used, to “make the season a lot less harsh for those unable to afford new outerwear.”
Well, this year, the e-mail said they decided to partner with Impact Services Corporation (“Impact”) in this effort. All coats collected would be distributed by Impact to the population it serves. I looked up Impact online and was just as impressed with them as I was Project H.O.M.E. It turns out that Impact is a multi-service charity that “helps TANF recipients and ex-offenders re-enter the community to find work and become self-sufficient.” Also their veteran services department serves over 300 veterans a year, offering homeless and disadvantaged veterans one of the most comprehensive sets of housing, employment, and support services in the country.
So, wouldn’t you know it, that the very same week of the Secret Santa exchange and the Coat Drive e-mail, in my mailbox at home was a piece of mail from Philabundance asking for donations. So I looked them up online, and they became a THIRD charity in one week that impressed me. Philabundance “reduces hunger and food insecurity in the Delaware Valley by providing food access to those in need in partnership with organizations.” On the piece of mail I received, they put it like this: “There is simply no greater gesture you can make than to help fill the empty plates of our neighbors in need. After all, that’s what this wonderful season is all about.” Enough said.
4. American Red Cross
After the above three organizations crossed my path in the same week, it’s then that I decided to compile them into a blog post to share with others looking for charities to give unto. And it only made sense to add one more to the list, a charity where I used to work! (Smile.) For two years I worked for the SE Chapter of the American Red Cross as their web developer. You’d be surprised how much they do! They’re most known for responding to emergencies. But they do so much more. In fact, they put many churches to shame the way they spring into action to aid families who experience great tragedies (fires, natural disasters, etc). Families undergoing these difficulties are often left hungry, homeless, and with many other needs.
5. Salvation Army
Another organization that does more than people realize is the Salvation Army. I realized this for the first time when two of my friends became Salvation Army soldiers (shout out to Bryan and Rhonda VanWyk). Because all I knew about them was the donation buckets I’d see at Christmas, where someone rings a bell and asking for donations. I also knew about the Salvation Army thrift stores. But I didn’t know about all the other stuff they do. Check out their website!
6. Your Local Church.
Don’t forget to check with your local church to see if there is a family in need. Maybe you can assist with getting Christmas gifts for a family’s children, or something like that. One friend I know got together with several other members of her church and went to Wal-mart and randomly paid off someone’s lay-a-way. Then they had Wal-Mart call the family to inform them they can come pickup their lay-a-way items… paid in full! (Shout out to the Carwheel Family who did this.) That’s an awesome, creative way to give. Instant gratification for the giver and receiver! But often there are people sitting right in your own congregation at church who can use help. Your church may also have programs that give to the needy.
So get involved! Either with your time, talents, money, prayers… or all of the above. Merry Christmas.
Question: What are some other places you know about that would be a good charity to give unto? What are your experiences with the charities listed above? To leave a comment, click here.