The Do’s and Don’ts
Here’s how to make your generosity really count. In the few short weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, Americans will donate $100 billion to charity. During this frenzy of holiday donations, here are four do’s and don’ts to make the most of your holiday giving.
“I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
Donate Canned Goods
The Food Bank for Larimer County estimates that 14 percent of county residents live at or below the federal poverty guideline, 40,200 of our neighbors and 8.4 percent of our seniors are what’s known as “food insecure,” and 33 percent of school-aged children receive free or reduced-cost meals. Our local food bank is one of our most important community organizations, and a donation to them goes directly to help people in our community. This time of year, you may be tempted to participate in a canned food drive or collect food to donate to the food bank.
Give Your Food Bank Cash
Food banks are incredibly efficient, and with the power of bulk buying they can purchase substantially more than you can. If I went to the grocery store, I’d be lucky to buy a jar of peanut butter, jelly, a loaf of bread and a couple cans of soup for $10. But the food bank can buy 40 pounds of food with that $10! If you really want to feed people in your community, can the canned food drive and give cash instead.
Give Unasked-for Help
Often around this time of year, we think about the kids who won’t have presents under the tree and the parents who can’t afford to put a feast on the table. If that concern prompts you to show up to a family’s home with unasked-for gifts or food, think twice. Asking for help is already a situation fraught with struggle and shame, and being outed as a struggling parent can undermine one’s sense of self-worth and self-respect. As someone who wants to help others, remember that you help people most when you preserve their dignity.
Let People Ask for Help Anonymously
Your toy and clothing donations should allow people to ask for help without feeling humiliated. Aside from those who need to know the applicants for vetting purposes, recipients’ identities should remain anonymous. Gifts of toys should appear to come from the parents and must respect the parent’s wishes for how they want their children to experience Christmas.
Collect Random Gifts
How many Christmas presents have you gotten from people who know you well and love you dearly, and yet those presents sit unused? Now, how well is a complete stranger going to do at choosing your gift? While it might be tempting to think, “Beggars can’t be choosers,” remember that our intention is to help. An unneeded and unwanted gift is not helpful. It’s a waste.
Let People Ask for Specific Help
What you have or want to give may not meet the needs and desires of the person you’re trying to help. For that reason, allow families who have requested help to identify what would be most helpful to them and the presents their kids want for the holidays. Then do your shopping according to that list.
Donate Just Around the Holidays
The holidays are the time of year when we have the most extra demands on our time and money, and in the midst of all those demands, we’re supposed to give to charity, too? The holidays aren’t always the best time of year to give.
Give a Little all Year
People need help all year round, so after the holidays are over, take a few minutes to develop a family giving plan. Together, talk about the importance of giving and then identify the types of charities you want to support. Let each family member express what causes they feel connected to and why. Decide how much the family will give every month and how you will decide where to give it. There is no amount too small to give, but having a regular monthly charitable-giving budget and process makes your giving more meaningful to you and more impactful to charities.
Looking to donate?
Northern Colorado has an abundance of charitable organizations. Here are just a few to explore.
Log on at www.nocostyle.com for more ideas.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Larimer County www.begreatlarimer.org
Boys and Girls Clubs of Weld County www.bgcweld.org
Food Bank for Larimer County www.foodbanklarimer.org
Hearts & Horses Therapeutic Riding Center www.heartsandhorses.org
Hope Lives! The Lydia Dody Breast Cancer Support Center www.hopelives.org
House of Neighborly Service www.honservice.org
NOCO Unify www.nocounify.org
Realities for Children www.realitiesforchildren.com
United Way of Larimer County www.uwaylc.org
United Way of WELD County www.unitedway-weld.org