5 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

It’s the season of giving, and many of our travel nurses have been asking about ways they can give back during the holiday season. There are countless of volunteer opportunities available this time of year from volunteering to serve meals on Thanksgiving, to toy and clothing drives. We’ve complied a list of 5 ways that you can spread some holiday cheer, and make a difference in your community this year.

1. Soup Kitchens and Food Banks

Volunteering at a soup kitchen or local food bank is a great way to make a difference this year. Millions of children and families struggle with food insecurity in this country, and those numbers are only increasing in the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, many families that are food insecure do not qualify for federal nutrition programs, and have to rely on their local food bank and other relief organizations for support. Soup kitchens and food banks are especially busy during the holidays, and are always in need of volunteers to serve meals or deliver food. Find your local soup kitchen or food bank, and consider donating your time or goods this year. Feeding America is also a great organization to find resources to fight hunger in your community.

2. Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is a program that distributes toys to children whose parents can’t afford to buy them Christmas presents. The program was founded by a U.S. Marine after WWII, and is run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. You can select toys to donate from their website, and Toys for Tots will take care of the wrapping and delivery. You can also donate money, or find your local Toys for Tots sponsors. It’s a great way to make Christmas wishes come true for underprivileged kids. Adopt-a-Family is another fantastic program that allows you to sponsor a family, and provide gifts or food items for their Christmas celebration. Many service organizations have Adopt-a-Family initiatives, so check online to find one in your area!

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3. Donating Blood/Plasma

You can help save lives this holiday season by donating blood or plasma. Many hospitals and clinics are desperate for donors, especially as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, and contribute to blood shortages across the country. It’s safe to donate blood or plasma during the pandemic, and it only costs a few hours of your time. The American Red Cross is urging anyone who is fully recovered from a verified COVID-19 diagnosis to consider donating convalescent plasma. The plasma is tested for COVID-19 antibodies, and is being evaluated as a possible treatment for those who are still battling the virus. Use the American Red Cross’s website to find a blood drive or donation center near you!

4. USPS Operation Santa

Every Christmas, the United States Postal Service receives hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa. So the Postal Service started Operation Santa as a way to respond to the letters, and fulfill children’s gift requests. Operation Santa started in 1912, and was initially just a group of postal service employees who wanted to keep the spirit of Santa alive. Today, the program has expanded to include a variety of volunteers and corporate sponsors dedicated to ensuring families have a magical Christmas. You can go to their website after December 4th, and choose a letter that speaks to you. It’s never been easier to give back by being one of Santa’s helpers!

5. Donate Winter Clothes/Gear

People often think about donating food or gifts during the holidays, but what about winter coats and other practical gear to stay warm? The Salvation Army hosts the Coats for Kids campaign, which is responsible for providing thousands of winter coats to children and families in need. Furthermore, Project Linus is an organization that seeks to provide handmade blankets to children in need. Project Linus gets it’s name from the famous Peanuts character, who took his blanket with him wherever he went. The charity delivers thousands of blankets each year using an army of “blanketeers”. You can donate to these organizations online, or find a local coat drive in your area!

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