Our friends at Operation: Social Santa have made tremendous strides in ensuring that every child has a joyful holiday season. Since their inception in 2010, they have raised over 7,000 toys, operating in 38 cities and organizing far-reaching social media campaigns to rouse communities to action.
Operation: Social Santa is one of many nationwide holiday drives, and each plays an important role in meeting the needs of underprivileged families across America. People choose to give to different places for different reasons: some chose based on location, others chose because an organization works for a cause that is close to their hearts, and still others chose because of a group's particular mission or values. But wherever you choose to give, you'll be making a difference.
There are so many places to choose from when deciding where to give, and the Internet offers some great tools. Charity Navigator is an excellent guide that offers various features to help you decide where to give. The Better Business Bureau also has a lot of information on charities, as does VolunteerMatch.org. There is also Donation Town, which helps you find charities in your area that will pick up your donations.
Yesterday we talked about other ways to give back, so to help you explore your options for donating this season, here are six other national holiday drives to consider:
Schools Fight Hunger
Schools Fight Hunger is a national charity launched in August 2010 to "bring together America's schools and school families around the cause of ending childhood hunger." The organization inspires students to make a commitment to service by partnering with schools to organize bake sales, food drives, and volunteer days. They have a Food Drive Toolkit to help teachers and students join the fight against hunger in their schools.
Toys for Tots
The Toys for Tots Foundation is an organization of the U.S. Marines that partners with national corporate sponsors, schools, and individuals to collect and distribute new, unwrapped toys during the holiday season. Some of their sponsors include Toys ‘R Us, Babies ‘R Us, Lego, Hess, Hasbro, Build-a-Bear, and Scholastic.Each year, over 700 Toys for Tots toy drives are conducted across all fifty states.
Feeding America is the nation's largest coordinated effort to end hunger, and they work in local communities and on a national scale to connect people with food banks and engage them in the fight. Their nationwide network of food banks makes it possible for people everywhere to donate, and during the holidays, they maintain a special gift giving catalog.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation has operated year-round since 1980 to "enrich the lives of children with life-threatening medical conditions through its wish-granting work." Through its network of nearly 25,000 volunteers, Make-A-Wish has touched the lives of more than 250,000 children around the world. They partner with people and organizations to grant wishes ranging from a toy for Christmas to a visit from a favorite celebrity. This time of year is the Season of Wishes, a campaign to grant special wishes and shine a spotlight on the importance of giving during the holidays.
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is the oldest and largest organization of its kind, a charity dedicated to serving hot meals to the sick and the elderly. They operate across all fifty states, and their network of 5,000 local programs help serve one million meals per day to people in need.
Second Chance Toys
Founded in 2006, Second Chance Toys, is a "toy rescue" organization that seeks to "rescue and recycle plastic toys for children in need by donating them to community organizations." Second Chance Toys is different than Toys for Tots or Operation: Social Santa in that their primary collections are toys that are used, with the intent of keeping them out of landfills to help children at the same time as they are helping the environment. Toys must be in good, working condition, clean and fully functional. For students and families looking to give during the holidays but are on a budget, Second Chance Toys is a viable alternative.
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