The magic of the holidays is something people crave throughout the year. The genuine happiness on faces, the beauty of the season, and the constant support from friends, family, and strangers is something the world could use year-round. This year, whether you’re baking Christmas cookies, decorating the house with your favorite menorah, or just doing your best to get through the season, take some time to give back. Taking the time to do a good deed will revitalize your soul and grant a stranger a day, week, month, or year of happiness. Try out a few of the special ways to give back during the holidays—you won’t regret it!
Bake for the Neighborhood
If you’re already planning on baking, think about doubling the recipe and sharing it. Baking isn’t just a fun activity for your family to reap the rewards from. In fact, it’s a great way to give back and spread some holiday cheer! Once you decorate the goodies, walk around to different homes in your neighborhood and leave some holiday cheer at the door. You could also bring the cookies into work, give them to your kids for teacher’s presents, and take them to the homeless. Baked goods do wonders for bringing joy to the world.
Sign Up for a Holiday 5K
If you didn’t get to participate in your town’s Turkey Trot 5K, sign up for one during the upcoming holidays. See if your favorite charities and organizations are hosting any runs nearby. Whether it’s a Santa-themed dress-up run or a color run on New Year’s Eve, there’s something so enthralling about giving back and getting healthy.
Pack Stockings for the Homeless
Especially for those who live in towns where homelessness is an issue, think about packing stockings to hand out. Something you can do with your family, a group of friends, or your coworkers, consider filling stockings to give back to those in need. Grab a pair of stockings and fill them up with all of the necessities. Some typical items you could include are as follows:
- Toiletries: toothbrush and paste, deodorant, soap
- Accessories: warm gloves, scarves, and hats
- Food: granola bars, fruits, water bottles, and more
Declutter and Donate
If you need to clean up your home for the holidays, then take what you don’t need and donate it. A lot of people stress about cleaning up and decluttering their home for the holidays, especially if they’re hosting. This year, make the most of what you’re getting rid of and donate some of those items to charity. For example, you probably need to clean out your coat closet, but you’ll likely forget about it until right before the guests arrive. This time around, clean out the closet and donate those coats, gloves, scarves, and hats that no one has worn in over a year. If you plan ahead, you can schedule a donation pick up with GreenDrop or you drop it off at one of their convenient locations! Either way, you’ll be benefitting yourself and all those who need help staying warm during the winter.
Visit a Nursing Home
As a family, group of employees, friends group, or alone, visit a local nursing home. A lot of residents aren’t able to go home for the holidays, so visitors can make the season that much easier and enjoyable for them. Call ahead to schedule a visit, and beforehand, grab some supplies. Take cards, decorations, baked goods, instruments, or anything else you may have to spread holiday cheer. Brighten up someone else’s day and your own by volunteering and spending time with those who will truly appreciate it.
Donating blood is important throughout the year, but it’s even more important during the holiday season. There are more accidents on the road, injuries, and crimes, and that means hospitals need more blood. Contact your nearest American Red Cross center and go there as a family to donate blood and save a life (or more).
Pay it Forward
The holidays are a season of gratitude, and paying kindness forward is just one way to show your appreciation. Lucky for you, there are many different ways to pay it forward during the holidays. From buying the coffee for the person behind you to scraping off a few windshields when the ice gets thick, there are plenty of ways to show your gratitude.
Write Letters to Veterans and Deployed Military Members
Don’t forget about our servicemen and women this holiday season. It’s important to support and give back to those who are risking or have risked their lives for our country. Take some time to compose handwritten letters or create care packages for veterans and active-duty members. Drop them off at your local VA station or deliver them to any military members you know personally.
Make Breakfast for Local Police and Firefighters
Another group of servicemen and women you need to make sure to support during the holidays are your local police, firefighters, and EMTs. Most of them won’t get the day off to enjoy the holidays, so do what you can to bring the holidays to them. Show your support and gratitude for their constant sacrifice by calling them a few days in advance and query whether you could bring in breakfast. You could even set it up as a neighborhood event, where everyone can honor those who protect your families every day. This kindness is something they—and you—will never forget.
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Last on our list of ways to give back during the holidays is to volunteer. In general, volunteering is an important thing to do for your community and your soul. During the holidays in particular, however, it’s even more important to spend some time volunteering. Local shelters and soup kitchens need even more help during this time of year, so do what you can to help out. Better yet, we challenge you to continue volunteering throughout the coming year. Giving back is easy when you think about it!
GreenDrop can help you give back to your favorite charities and organizations this year. From donation pick-ups to drop-offs, we can make sure your donations help your chosen charity. We hope that the holiday season is full of light, love, and gratitude for you this year!
As we discussed in a previous blog, one of the charities GreenDrop supports is the American Red Cross. When we pick up, or you drop off, your donations for the Red Cross, we take those items and turn them into a monetary donation. These monetary donations constitute just one of the many ways the organization thrives. To learn more about how the American Red Cross is funded, read on!
How It Works
To begin, it’s important to understand the structure of the American Red Cross. When it comes to numbers, the nation’s Red Cross includes 769 regional or city-based chapters. Each chapter is looked over and chartered by the national Board of Governors, and they help decide who the directors for each chapter.
Chapter directors have some control in determining which programs and services their specific area need the most. The money these chapters obtain is trickled down from the national level. Now, it’s important to note that the government does not fund the Red Cross. When we say the money chapters receive is from the national level, we refer to the organization itself, not the government as a whole.
Where the American Red Cross Gets Money
Although the Red Cross is not funded by the government, that doesn’t mean the organization will not receive government money in certain events. During a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina, the government contracted the Red Cross to carry out some aspect of the government’s relief efforts. Apart from monetary donations from the government, the Red Cross does not get funded by it.
Instead, the American Red Cross’ budget comes mostly from donations that companies, organizations, universities, and individuals make, and cost-recovery fees can be charged for some services. The American Red Cross is a non-profit, charitable organization, which means it gets the sum of its money to operate through donations from others.
When you donate to GreenDrop, we turn that into a monetary donation to help the Red Cross continue to provide aid for others. When celebrities donate to the them, that money goes to help the organization continue. When you donate blood at a Red Cross donation center, the blood is sold for money to help them continue. All these things work like a machine to keep this courageous organization afloat.
As hard as it is for people to be in the service, reintegrating into society as a civilian often poses many significant challenges as well. In a myriad of ways, readjustment is one of the hardest things servicemen and women have to face. As civilians who never went into the service, we may not know the unique challenges that separating from the military service presents.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how to help veterans adjust to civilian life, you must recognize that this is a multipronged approach. First, you need to gain an understanding of the common challenges they’ll face in this readjustment time. From there, you can start to see how you can help. In hopes to aid in this approach, we’ve come up with a basic guide on how to help veterans adjust to civilian life—check it out!
Common Challenges Veterans Face During Readjustment
Reassessing Their Relationship with Themselves
A main concern when veterans return is their relationship with themselves, and realigning their sense of identity, purpose, and self-worth.
Reconnecting with Family and Friends
During absences, families create new routines. Because of this, both veteran and family will have to adjust and make changes. These adjustments are difficult for both parties, as family roles—in minor and major areas—must be re-developed.
Reentering the Workforce
There’s the chance that a veteran may never have looked for, applied for, or interviewed for a civilian job—these skills can be quite daunting to master. Reentering the workforce or returning to a job necessitates catching up, learning new skills, and ample adjustment.
Coping with Starting Over
One of the biggest adjustments veterans face upon their return is that they tend to no longer hold that the same respect and authority level that they had in the service. It tends to feel like they’re starting over, and that can be quite the blow if they were highly ranked.
Adjusting to a Different Pace
In the most basic sense, there is a significant difference between military and civilian life. Veterans have to adjust to that different pacing and lifestyle almost immediately after return.
Psychological Effects of Traumatic Experiences
Apart from PTSD, there are significant psychological effects that may inhibit personal and professional reintegration. Survivor’s guilt, depression, and inclinations toward substance abuse are a few examples.
With those challenges in mind, take a look at a few tips and tactics to help the veterans in your life readjust. These aren’t surefire ways to get them suddenly joyful and ready to take on the day, but slowly, these will help transform their attitude on civilian living.
Helpful Tactics to Help Veterans Readjust
Allow Time for Self-Care
Just as it’s important for people who’ve never been in the military to make time for self-care, it’s even more important to give and provide that time for veterans. It’s important to recognize that the emotional journey will most likely take longer than the physical journey. In that time, it’s vital that you allow time for them to care for themselves in the most basic sense. Plenty of rest, good nutrition, and a focus on improving and sustaining a good emotional, mental, and spiritual mindset will do wonders.
Wait, Listen, and Learn
One of the most important things you can do to help a veteran is to just wait. Give them some time to readjust. Chances are, they are not suddenly going to fall back easily into civilian lifestyle. When you follow some of these tips, hopefully, they will begin to open up. When that occurs, do your best to actively listen. Generally, they don’t want you to simply solve the issues they’re facing. Instead, be the person they can turn to; when you listen rather than push them away, you’ll help them cope with their experiences. You’ll end up learning quite a lot, and that can help you move forward with support.
Many organizations are there to help veterans and their families. These organizations can develop camaraderie between veterans, which in turn helps ease any transition burden. Different organizations provide different types of aid—some solely to connect veterans with one another, others help deal with psychological effects, others are there for familial help. The list is seemingly endless. We’ve compiled a few below:
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
- National Association of American Veterans (NAAV)
- American Legion
- Purple Heart
- Wounded Warrior Project
- American Veterans (AMVETS)
Help Them Reconnect
Often, the most beneficial action for veterans is talking to other veterans. However, this can also be the most difficult action, since many are trained not to talk about feelings and struggles. In fact, the veteran in your life may shut this idea down right away. Steer them toward the idea that they don’t have to talk about war, combat trauma, or the military in general. Instead, emphasize that it’s important to have access to someone else who knows what it’s like to be a vet—these shared experiences and mutual support can do wonders for easing transition.
Donate and Volunteer
Whether you personally know a veteran or just want to support them in general, donating and volunteering your time is an excellent way to do so. A solid support system is an essential way for veterans to readjust and get back on their feet. This can mean various things, from donating clothes and items to organizations that support veterans, such as GreenDrop, to building houses with Building Homes for Heroes. There are many ways to help veterans readjust, and making sure that the organizations they turn to have the necessary resources is just one such way.
Say Thank You
Finally, do your best to say thank you. Show gratitude and respect for what veterans have done and what they’ve risked. A simple thank you can be enough to make a veteran’s day better and shows that you understand the sacrifice they’ve made.
Hopefully, by understanding the challenges they face and knowing the different tactics, you’ll be able to better support veterans who are in a readjustment period. If you’re looking to provide more consistent support, turn to GreenDrop. With monthly charitable donations, such as clothing pick up and drop off, you’ll lend support to charities, including Purple Heart. Support those who risked everything for us—donate now!
Giving back to your community is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Not only will it bring warmth to your life, but you could end up helping several people in need. If you want to give back more often, but don’t know where to start, we can help you! In fact, there are a lot of organizations out there that do just that—help you find a charity to support.
We compiled a guide on how to find a charity worthy of your donation. It details different organizations whose sole purpose is to help you find commendable charities, as well as offer some ways to support them. Check it out!
Before we begin, it’s important to recognize that informed giving is effective giving. You may feel worried about giving to an illegitimate charity, or maybe that the charity isn’t doing the right thing with your monetary donations. Either way, the resources listed below will help you make informed decisions on your chosen charity.
The guide to intelligent giving, Charity Navigator is a great tool that evaluates a myriad of charitable organizations in the United States. This resource looks specifically at the financial health, accountability, and transparency of America’s largest charities. They have various top ten lists, or you can browse their database to find a nonprofit that matches your passions. However, their list is not all-inclusive—it may not include your favorite local charity, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one to support!
This is a magnificent crowdsourcing resource for you to learn about high-impact nonprofit organizations. The site has more than 11,000 reviews from thousands of experts that have interviewed and surveyed the various charities. With the help of these experts, they have created lists of verified, financially responsible charities that they believe are good to support. Search by category or use their search tool and learn more about your chosen charity!
This tool is more for those of you who want to volunteer at specific charities. Universal Giving connects people with volunteer and giving opportunities from organizations around the world. They vetted all the charities they recommend through their Quality Model, which includes insights into their management, finances, Patriot Act compliance, and more. Their site allows you to sort volunteer and giving opportunities by continent or type of project, so it’s easy to find the charity that best fits your needs.
The Life You Can Save
Our final charity information resource is that of The Life You Can Save. Founder, Peter Singer, believes that donors should send contributions to places, organizations, and charities where they’ll get the most for what they donate. In simpler terms, he wants you to answer the question of where your money will go the farthest. Because of this focus, The Life You Can Save, provides donors with lists of charities that have proven their worth to help those in need.
Ways to Support Your Chosen Charity
Once you find the charity worthy of your donation, it’s important to consider all of the different ways you can support them.
- Monetary donations: donating tac refund, raising funds
- Clothing donations: organize a clothing drive, drop off clothing donations
- Donate your time or skills
- Provide awareness
There are tons of ways to support the charity of your choosing. From aiding the National Federation of the Blind to the Red Cross charity, there are plenty of organizations out there that need your help. Turn to GreenDrop for clothing and household donation pick-up. We’ll make sure your donations turn into something of great value for your chosen charity.
At GreenDrop, we support four different charitable organizations: The Military Order Purple Heart, the American Red Cross, the Society of Vincent de Paul, and the National Federation of the Blind. We monetize your clothing and item donations for these organizations so they can continue to do excellent work for the community.
When you donate with GreenDrop, we’ll ask you what charity you’d like to donate to. If you’re wondering what is the National Federation of the Blind, we put together a short little guide explaining their history and what they do as an organization. Check it out!
History of the NFB
Found on November 16, 1940, the National Federation of the Blind began its journey in Pennsylvania. There had been the need for a national organization for blind people across the country, and so the federation came to fruition. Blind people from seven states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, California, Missouri, and Ohio—attended the first meeting. During said meeting, they drafted a constitution for the first-ever national organization of the blind.
There are a few different principles they discussed in this meeting, which they believed the organization should constantly uphold and strive for. The principles are as follows:
- Blind people have an inalienable right to independence
- They have an equal capacity
- Only blind people can truly speak for the blind community
Members elect officers at the national, state, and local level to ensure the group upholds these principles. By doing so, they can empower and improve the lives of blind people across the country.
What They Do
Since the federation relies on the support of one another, they created quite a network of blind members. With these members, they coordinate various services, programs, and resources to build a community, to defend their rights, and to provide information and support. They support a wide range of people—those who are blind, those who are losing their vision, parents of blind children, blind parents, seniors, educators, students, and employers.
They support several programs and services as well. We listed a few of them below:
- White Cane Program
- Center of Excellence in Nonvisual Access
- Scholarships & Awards
- Braille Certification
- Blind Parent Mentoring
- NFB Bell Academy
- National Center for Blind Youth in Science
See their Program & Services page for more information!
This federation helps so many people every day and is one of the only organizations to do so. The next time you utilize our donation drop off or donation pick up services, choose to help the National Federation of the Blind—you’ll make a difference in a lot of lives.