Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, for helping neighbors in need so that everyone can have a happy holiday.
“The key to wise holiday giving is knowing where to give,” said JoAnn Turnquist, president and CEO of Central Carolina Community Foundation. “ Identify why you are giving and what causes you care about. Then, do your research.”
Turnquists suggests checking organizations you want to give to against the ‘Consumer Reports’ of the charitable world, such as GuideStar or Charity Navigator.
Central Carolina Community Foundation’s webpage section “Make the Most of Your Giving” provides tools and resources to guide your giving decisions. The organization offers tips in its 2016 Holiday Acts of Giving:
Adopt a family: Palmetto Project’s Families Helping Families can assist you with finding a family in the Midlands to adopt. Pick out gifts for the family with your children, shop for their holiday meal fixings or make special holiday treats to share.
Write a kind note: Begin the conversation of giving with your family by reflecting on your blessings. Have each member of your family write a note about what they are grateful for about another family member. Gather as a family to read the blessings and brainstorm joyful and authentic ways your family can celebrate those blessings by giving to your community.
Warm a heart: Collect coats, blankets, mittens and hats to give to the homeless.
Spread cheer with a card: Create homemade cards for the holidays and mail to military, hospitals, nursing homes or to local emergency responders.
Make giving a New Year’s resolution: Use the holidays as a starting point for a New Year’s resolution to make giving a part of your family all year long.
Other ways to help
Following is a list of some of the opportunities in the Midlands for folks who want to help others this Christmas season:
The Salvation Army is seeking donors for its Angel Trees through Dec. 4 at Columbia Place Mall, 7201 Two Notch Road and Columbiana Centre, 100 Columbiana Circle. Children are represented by angels with their Christmas wishes and clothing sizes available as gift ideas and suggestions. Volunteers at each site will help select children and collect donations. Angel Tree gifts are due back at the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Dec. 6. (803) 309-0436
Pawmetto Lifeline, one of many organizations that helps animals in need, has put together a Holiday “Wish List”: Dog and cat toys; cat litter; dog treats; laundry detergent; bleach; Dawn dish soap; AA batteries; new or gently used collars and leashes of all sizes; pee pads; exercise pens (x-pens) for puppies; Kong or toys that can hold treats; medium and/or large new or gently used wire crates and kennels; travel carriers for cats/kittens; white and/or orange copy paper; pens; manilla file folders; baby wipes; kitten/puppy feeding bottles; KMR powder; kitten and/or puppy formula. (803) 465-9150
The 62nd annual Carolina Cares holiday donation drive needs your help to help others. Through the collection of stocking stuffers with the Salvation Army, holiday cards for soldiers with the American Red Cross, and family food drive program with Families Helping Families, the student body and faculty are able to help the less-fortunate in Columbia. The drive ends on Nov. 30, and is celebrated at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the Horseshoe on Dec. 1. (828) 404-6811
CARDS FOR SOLDIERS
The Red Cross Holidays for Heroes program enables Americans to “Give Something That Means Something” this holiday season. One way is by sending holiday cards to members of the military, veterans and their families. (803) 540-1200
Stockings are available at the Salvation Army, 3024 Farrow Road; email email@example.com to reserve stockings. Stockings are to be stuffed with age appropriate items and returned to the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Dec. 6. (803) 309-0436
DRESS A BEAR
Bears are available at the Salvation Army on Farrow Road; email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve bears. Bears should be dressed and returned to the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Dec. 6. (803) 309-0436
CHRISTMAS TOY DRIVES
The Salvation Army is accepting toy donations, from groups and individuals. All toy donations should be delivered to the Cattle Arena at the State Fairgrounds by Dec. 6. (803) 309-0436
Since 1947, the U.S. Marines have been collecting toys for needy children at Christmas in boxes located throughout the community. Members of the community drop new, unwrapped toys in collection boxes positioned in local businesses. The boxes will be picked up on Dec. 9. Go to http://eastover-sc.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/donate-toys.aspx for box locations.
The Lexington Police Department Emergency Services Team is holding a toy drive with events at Kmart, Target and Walmart locations through Dec. 9. Toys also can be dropped off from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays at the police department, 111 Maiden Lane, Lexington. www.lexsc.com
The Salvation Army accepts donated food items at The Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service, 3024 Farrow Road, from 8:30am-4:30pm. Monday-Friday. (803) 309-0436
RING THE BELL
This longtime tradition gives families and groups the opportunity to collect monetary donations in a festive way, by ringing the bell outside participating businesses. Go to the Salvation Army’s Christmas volunteer website, http://columbiasa.volunteerfirst.org, for available locations and dates or email email@example.com for details. (803) 309-0436
The deadline for nonprofits to register for Midlands Gives 2017 (the 24-hour local online giving challenge hosted by Central Carolina Community Foundation) is Dec. 19. www.midlandsgives.org