(Above: If you live in Chicago, you can help out a neighbor by picking up some extra groceries on your next shopping trip and dropping them at a LoveFridge in your area!)
It’s officially DECEMBER. Can you believe it? And what better way to kick off the month than with a giving back post? (I know Giving Tuesday was yesterday, but June had a surprise “out of daycare” day thus–getting this up a day late!) Luckily, there is never any right or wrong time to give back–so today, I’m rounding up several easy ways you can do just that!
Whether you have a little bit of time or a lot of time, $3 or $3,000, are looking to pass along some nice items you don’t use anymore–or could just use some easy ideas to help brighten someone’s day–(maybe all of the above?) I hope this is a great place to start!
Easy Ways to Give Back + Spread Joy this Holiday Season and Everyday!
Little acts of kindness that only cost a few dollars, or for free!
Pay for someone’s coffee:
Whether that’s buying the person’s coffee in line behind you, or buying a bunch of $5 Starbucks gift cards at the grocery store and giving them out to those who could use a little thank-you–it’s a random act of kindness that will always be appreciated! This works great for USPS/UPS/FedEx drivers, not to mention a great thing to hand out to healthcare workers (especially if you go to get a COVID test!)
Compliment everyone you see today!
Something that is totally free, and will give you just as much joy as it will the recipient! Whether it’s an “I love your mask!” to the random person on the street, or telling your coworker on zoom how much their laugh always brightens your day–little compliments go so far! (Check out this list of compliments that have nothing to do with appearance!)
Send a quick note of gratitude:
Think of a couple people you are especially thankful for and send them a quick note of appreciation! It could be someone in your current life. Or from your past–like an old teacher, doctor, mentor, nanny–whomever! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a quick text, email, Facebook message–whatever–to let them know you appreciate them!
Volunteer your time or skills:
Share the local organizations that are important to you on social media!
Whether it’s your favorite local restaurant or shop that needs help driving business, or a charity that is near and dear to your heart, one of the best free ways to show your support is to spread the word! Share their posts, comment and like their photos, go out of your way to tell your friends about them! Word of mouth is so powerful!
Help a mom!
Purchase some affordable toys, crayons, coloring books, etc at the dollar store, and drop them in the front yard of a mom who could use a break. (Or put them on the corner of a with a sign!)
Donate food, clothing, and other items locally
Have you heard of “Little Pantries”? They are a spin-off of little libraries and I think they are the best idea ever. You could either create your own little pantry on your block. Or purchase some non-perishable goods to leave in one near you! You can find more information, from how to create your own, to where to find your nearest little pantry, on their website! (This would be a great thing to post on NextDoor or your community Facebook page to see if there is an interest in creating one in your community!)
I first heard about the Love Fridges last year, and love that more and more continue to pop up! Like the Little Pantries, Love Fridges aim to nourish Chicago’s communities while combating food scarcity and food waste, providing a way for neighbors to help one another!
How to help? Easy! Just check out their list of most needed items. Pick them up on your next grocery store run, and leave them in your local fridge for others to take what they need. You can also sign up to clean out a fridge, volunteer your skills, host a fridge at your neighborhood business, or even donate a fridge!
Local Food Banks:
Food pantries and those they serve are in need of support more than ever. Consider looking up your local food pantry, and dropping off some non-perishables to help local families! (If you’re local to Chicago, Chicago Food Depository accepts donations at any of these locations! IGrowChicago also accepts food donations to their Peace Pantry, and you can supply them with food and necessities without ever leaving your couch by purchasing items from their Amazon Wishlist!) If you are comfortable and able, volunteers are also VERY in-demand. And volunteering your time at your local pantry is a great way to make a big impact!
Coats, socks, hats, gloves, and scarves are always in demand this time of year, especially in cold climates! If you have any gently used items to donate, there are SO many organizations to donate to! I recommend googling “where to donate clothing in [your area]”. And many local organizations will come up! Salvation Army has always been a go-to of ours. And One Warm Coat is another national organization that organizes coat drives nationwide!
Baby items, feminine products + postpartum essentials:
Diaper scarcity is a huge issue in the US–consider helping families by donating diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials this season. (Google location closest to you!) Most diaper banks even have Amazon wishlists so you can donate right from your computer if you don’t have any items to donate in person.
If you’re local to Chicago, Share our Spare is an amazing organization–if you have any extra diapers your LO has outgrown, extra unopened formula, pads, tampons, or gently used essentials like baby towels, swaddles, baby equipment, etc that you are looking for a place to donate–here is a list of all their accepted items.
Adopt a local family:
There are SO many great organizations that can connect families who could use a little support this holiday season to those looking to give back. Again, just google “adopt a family holiday 2020 in [your area]” and you’ll likely find so many opportunities that pop up. Local churches are also a good place to ask. As are local messageboards like NextDoor or your neighborhood Facebook groups!
This is the second year our friends have all gotten together to adopt a family through IGrowChicago (though I don’t see the sign up posted anymore, which means they must have their needs met– Hooray!) but I know there are still so many organizations that could use a hand!
There are SO many deserving organizations that deserve our support–I could spend hours listing all of them. But here are a few more organizations that we have personally contributed to this year/support on a regular basis.
**Corporate matching: Many employers also have a matching program, so keep record of all your donations and check to see if your employer is willing to match! Ask your HR department if you are unsure!
The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend everything from women’s rights (including Roe V. Wade!) to racial injustice, immigration rights, LGBTQ rights, voting rights, and more. The best way to help is by becoming a recurring monthly donor, which you can do right here!
Planned Parenthood is an incredibly important organization for women everywhere, especially those in underserved communities. They don’t just provide safe abortion access, but essential healthcare and birth control access to those who may not be able to get it otherwise. Right now, women’s abortion rights are desperately at stake, and they need support now more than ever before–consider becoming a recurring donor here.
I was recently introduced to IGrow Chicago by my best friend. And if you’re looking to get involved locally, this is one of the first places I recommend starting! They have so many ways to volunteer. Whether that’s with time, skills, money, goods, or more.
Their first Peace House was created on what was previously one of the most dangerous blocks in West Englewood, and has become a symbol of hope and transformation. Today, they have a whole Peace Campus, which serves as a community gathering and healing zone! IGrow has 15+ different programs working to address the traumatic effects of violence and poverty–they are all run by community members and volunteers, and assists every generation of West Englewood. Residents learn the tools they need to stop violence before it starts. From how to take a deep breath before reacting to how to apply for and succeed in jobs.
It’s hard to accurately describe how many ways MBMHMC touches the Chicago community! While the organization’s main focus is underserved youth, they organize dozens of efforts for communities on Chicago’s south side–from decorating homes for the holidays, organizing local food drives, providing support for elderly neighbors (via food deliveries, and wellness calls), neighborhood clean-up efforts, raising funds for Black Women-Led organizations and companies, and so much more. M3 brings people together from all 77 Chicago neighborhoods in the most inspiring way to foster community. And it’s very special to be apart of! I highly recommend following their Instagram to stay up to date on all the ways to get involved, as they are ever-growing!
Right now, they could use help with their big holiday cheer initiative with items on their Amazon wishlist to help bring holiday spirit and cheer to nearly 500 homes between 51st to 115th and King!
Both sides of Neal’s family have been deeply involved in Misericordia for generations. And it’s an organization that is very near and dear to us!
Misericordia offers a community of care to those with mild to profound developmental disabilities. Many of whom are also physically challenged. By serving society’s most vulnerable citizens, Misericordia also serves the families who want the best for them, yet cannot provide it at home.
Their fundraising efforts have been severely impacted due to COVID–so they could use every bit of our support this year! Aside from donating online, a great way to give back with your holiday shopping this year is by purchasing one of their holiday gift sets from their bakery!
I was introduced to Black Girl Ventures last year as they are Equilibria’s official charitable partner–as a for-women, by-women startup, we are thrilled to be teaming up with an organization that focuses on creating access to capital for Black/Brown women founders!