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12 Days & 12 Ways to Give During This Holiday Season

With the holiday season upon us, many people are in the giving spirit—especially since that is what this time of year is all about! Unfortunately, for those who would normally give by volunteering their time, COVID has put a stop to many of those volunteering activities.   

But there are still ways to give and donate—all from the comfort and safety of your home! Knowing money can be tight this time of year, a few of these giving acts aren’t necessarily money based. Something on this list will be budget friendly. But even then, always remember that small donations can go a long way in improving someone’s holiday season.

As the age-old expression goes, it’s the thought that counts!

1. Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank – Make a Donation (qgiv.com)

Calling all fellow Duquesne students! This local food bank provides warm meals for families, seniors with chronic medical conditions, those who have experienced unexpected job loss and so on. Every $1 provides enough food for five nutritious meals for local community members. This is a great outlet to see relief for those facing food insecurity in the Pittsburgh area. 

2. DONATE | RMHC

Ronald McDonald House programs are very deserving of donations this holiday season as well, because they provide housing for families with hospitalized children. The services catered by this organization allow families to stay close together during what is a very trying and scary time for them—especially when these medical events take place during the holiday season.  

3. Any of your local homeless shelters, churches, or food pantries!

A donation to local organizations is great because whatever is donated will directly impact your community. Yourdonation will be impacting your neighbors. With a simple Google search, you will be directed to a plethora of local charities’ websites, each with their own links that collect monetary donations that aid their charitable work. You can also look up their COVID guidelines and make a safe donation of whatever goods they may need.

4. Donate blood! 

This might seem like a strange suggestion, but there’s a national shortage of blood right now. So, this donation is literally a matter of life or death. Plus, its free! Just make an appointment to donate with organizations like Red Cross or with hospitals in your area. Whole blood donations can be made every eight weeks, and plasma donations can be made every seven days. Unlike whole blood, plasma can even be universally transfused! Either way, receiving their much-needed blood during the holiday season may feel like a miracle for some patients, so consider donating today.

5. Toy Drive 2020 | Midnight Mission

This is just one example of the many toy drives that are running this season. Through either a simple monetary donation or their Amazon link, you can directly order a toy for a child who may otherwise go without!  

6. Donate to Childhood Cancer and Research – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Cancer is a tough diagnosis and fight no matter who it affects, but it can hit children especially hard. On top of that, dealing with cancer during the holidays can make it seem even worse. Places like St. Jude’s work every day to understand, treat and defeat childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, so this organization is an extremely worthwhile cause to consider supporting today. 

7. Your Gift Could Save a Life | ASPCA

Of course, we can’t forget about our furry friends this time of year! Your local SPCA would gladly accept any donations, which can go towards food, toys, veterinary care, etc. for the animals in their care. Even better, maybe it’s time to expand your family and give an animal the loving home it deserves! 

8. Donate your gently used clothes at local drop-off locations or buy new winter items for your community shelters.

As we prep to receive and make room for our own gifts, perhaps it’s time to consider a hearty closet clean-out. Many of us have perfectly good clothes laying stagnant in our wardrobes—clothes that would much better serve someone less fortunate than us. This is free to do (and easy!). Plus, it’s a simple way to improve someone else’s holiday. 

Furthermore, you may also choose to purchase new winter clothing items like coats, hats, scarves, gloves, and more for donation. Shelters are always looking for things like these to keep their in-need populations warm throughout the cold winter months. 

9. Donate to save lives | Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is a program providing medical and humanitarian care in over 70 countries around the world. It’s especially known for projects in conflict zones and countries affected by endemic diseases, meaning the issues they work to fix are rather long-term. Donations here would aid these medical professionals, engineers and administrators in their mission to help those who truly need it. 

10. Pay Away The Layaway | Become a Layaway Angel Today!

By definition, layaway is a purchasing method in which a customer can place a deposit on an item to “lay it away” for later pick-up when they are financially positioned to pay off the balance. Essentially, it’s an alternative method for a credit card. This project puts donations towards paying off these balances on gifts for children—everything from toys to school supplies to clothes. 

11. Project Linus-Home

This organization was named after the Peanuts character who was never seen without his trusty blue blanket. By either making a monetary donation or finding a local chapter to drop off a blanket, you would help to keep families warm and to give them a sense of security this time of year. 

12. Christmas Spirit Foundation – Donate

The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to military families via their Trees for Troops program. While it may be a little too last minute for 2020, you can still consider donating for next year. This organization counts on public donations to make this program succeed year after year! 

The holidays are meant to be a relaxing and festive time of year, but some people may view this season as stressful, since they don’t have the resources to create as magical of a holiday season as they would’ve wanted for their loved ones. 

Although COVID has limited some of the volunteer activities available this season, it hasn’t stopped the ability to make donations. Therefore, through the generosity of people like you, we as a whole are able to improve the holidays for many people.  

And always remember, the giving spirit that so many of us feel leading up to the holiday season can extend beyond as well—whatever donations you make throughout the year are greatly appreciated as well. 

Happy holidays and have a great new year!

Catherine Lippert, who goes by Cat, is a junior at Duquesne University. Originally from Buffalo, she is in a five-year Physician Assistant program and set to graduate in 2023. Cat is a longtime fan of One Direction and Harry Styles, loves to hike, and takes great pleaure in going to concerts to see her favorite musicians! In spring of 2020, she had the fantastic opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy, which taught her a lot about herself and the different cultures around her. After she graduates, she plans to move somewhere warmer than Buffalo and start working in a hospital emergency room, as well as use her free time to travel and to advocate for reforms concerning climate change. Oh, and she plans to get a cat or two from her local rescue!
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