Today is “Giving Tuesday”, the answer to the rampant consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and a call to really honor the spirit of the season and give back. There are many ways that one can give. I made donations to causes I believe in like the Maryland Food Bank and the Baltimore Abortion Fund.
It is important to provide cash to organizations so that they can direct it to where it is needed most. But what is most important is to find some way to support the groups that are working hard to help people in our communities, to teach our kids to appreciate what they have and to do what we can to make things just a bit better for those who are struggling.
In addition to providing funding, there are other ways to give back:
Book Donation: I used to travel a lot for work and ended up buying the latest NY Times bestseller to keep me busy on the plane. They are taking up space and could be put to better use. There are a lot of places that take book donations either to provide at shelters or to sell and fund local service programs. For fellow Marylanders, you can donate books to the Maryland Book Bank at the Baltimore Sun Complex (501 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD).
Unused Toiletries/Hotel Samples: My travels also yielded a huge number of shampoo and conditioner bottles. The Ronal McDonald House is a place where families stay when their children are in a local hospital. They accept unopened, unused hotel toiletries. Baltimore folks can drop donations 7 days a week at the local RMH anytime 9am-9pm at 635 W. Lexington Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.
Stuffed Animals: Our girls have been lucky to receive a lot of stuffed animals over the years as gifts or as a prize in a game. There are a number of favorites that our girls adore, but many that just sit there. They could provide joy to another child. There are organizations that will accept new and gently used stuffed toys to provide to kids in traumatic situations, children in conflict areas or kids in shelters.
We are donating toys from our house to Project Smile. They provide toys and books to police and fire departments to give to children involved in traumatic situations. Project Smile has recently launched the Operation Elder Care program which provides stuffed animals to elderly people who are making the difficult and frequently traumatic transition to life in a nursing home. Donations can be mailed to PO Box 336, Hopedale, MA 01747. They also accept unused coloring books and crayons. They do not accept anything battery operated.
Baby food and Baby items: As soon as our littlest was able to start mashing up food she rejected the pureed baby food we had been giving her. We still have a bunch of the packets and boxes of Mum Mums, her favorite when we first started giving her anything other than milk. Food Link provides baby food and other items that families need. They don’t require paperwork. They provide immediate help directly to families and individuals or by assisting caseworkers, clergy and community activists. They are located at 2666 Riva Road
3rd Floor MS 8302, Annapolis, MD 21401.
Toy Donations: I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for a parent to not have the means to provide a toy or gift for their children to open. While food and a roof over your head has to be the top priority, every child who celebrates Christmas should have the chance to walk up to the tree and find a box with their name on it. It is a simple way to bring joy to a child. You can donate to Toys-R-Us towards a fund to provide toys or if you have a new toy to provide, it can be dropped off as part of Toys 4 Tots in numerous locations including local Self Storage facilities.
Coats: It is getting chilly. Too many people do not have the winter wear they need to stay warm. There are a number of groups and charities that collect new or gently used coats this time of year. Look through your closet and chances are there is a coat or two that you are not using that could keep someone else warm. We are participating in a local drive by Mother’s Day Out in Oella. You can drop off new or gently used items for adults or kids at their facility now through December 16th.
There are so many ways to give. For those of us who are able, it is important that we do what we can to make life just a little bit better for people in our communities.