Christmas is almost here, and many of us are feeling the excitement of family traditions, gifts, and light displays already. But for some, the Christmas season can be a difficult time. Loneliness, financial struggles, and disability are just some of the reasons that the people around us may not be able to completely feel the Christmas spirit. Thankfully, there are countless organizations around the country that strive to include the less-fortunate in this incredible season of giving. Some of these organizations focus primarily on the intellectually disabled while others work tirelessly to provide underprivileged children with new toys. But all of them rely on the same thing to keep their work going: donations and volunteer effort from the communities around them. The best way to celebrate may be by giving back to the community this Christmas. Here are some ways you can do just that:
Utah Association for Intellectual Disabilities (UAID)
- UAID’s “Holiday Gift Box” effort provides a unique opportunity for Utahns to give back to the community. This charity serves people who suffer from various types of intellectual disabilities. They work year-round to provide an improved Christmas to as many of these deserving people as possible, many of whom perceive and experience the holiday season as a young child would.
- UAID makes ornaments featuring the faces and wish lists of the disabled people they serve. You can “adopt” these ornaments and help give someone a Christmas to remember! You can also volunteer to help the effort in other ways, like creating some of these ornaments yourself. To learn more, visit UAID’s website or watch this video highlighting their work.
Toys for Tots
- Operated by the US Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots is one of the most well-known Christmas charities in the country. Its mission is simple: provide underprivileged children with new, unwrapped toys at Christmas.
- The Toys for Tots program is joined and sponsored by many major companies, including Toys R Us and Disney. You can help directly by shopping at one of these stores. Or you can find local events and drop-off locations by searching the Toys for Tots webpage.
United Way’s Sub for Santa
- Based in Utah County, Sub for Santa is an opportunity for the community to do just what the program’s name implies: do Santa’s job for him. Its aim is serving families, especially children, in need.
- There are several ways you can participate in Sub for Santa. You can sponsor a child by donating new clothing, toys, books, or by volunteering to deliver these gifts to families in need! You can do all of this and also make monetary donations online through the Utah County United Way website.
- The image of the bell-ringer alongside the red Salvation Army kettle is likely a familiar one to most of us. Their aim is to use your donations to serve local communities in any way they can. This might be the easiest way to give back during the holidays, since all you have to do is drop some coins or bills in the kettle! You can use the Salvation Army’s website to find the kettle nearest you.
- If you’d like to get more personally involved with the Salvation Army, you could start your own “online red kettle” to start donating and encouraging your friends and family to do the same!
- This year, as part of the annual Christmas Lights Display at our office, you can find donation barrels where you can leave non-perishable food items/ All of the food and monetary donation we collect will then be handed off to the Utah Food Bank, where they will help the most deserving individuals in our area. The Utah Food Bank has the means to take your donations and purchase more necessary food items than are available to the public. It’s like they are working their own little Christmas miracles.
These are just a few of the endless opportunities we have to help those around us during the holiday season. Any effort we give in making the holidays a community event, especially for those less fortunate than us, is an effort well spent.
Photos via Flickr