How can your kid volunteer, give to others these holidays? We have tips
The holiday season brings out the desire to do good deeds and help others, taking the focus off of “what will I get?” and putting it on “what can I give?”
It’s the stuff parents try to teach kids to do year-round, but if you’re inspired to get in the giving instead of the getting spirit right now, we have suggestions of what you can do this holiday season, even in a pandemic.
Operation Blue Santa: Typically, we would line the streets of downtown Austin on the Saturday after Thanksgiving for the Chuy’s Children Giving to Children parade and drop off unwrapped toys for the Austin Police Department’s charity. With the parade canceled, families will have to find another way to give. Instead of asking for unwrapped toys, Operation Blue Santa is asking for donations to buy gift cards for families to buy their own toys. You can donate at bluesanta.org.
If you still want to see Blue Santa and Mrs. Claus, they will be at Schlotzsky’s locations throughout the season: noon to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 12, 5601 Brodie Lane; noon to 2:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 2545 W. Anderson Lane; and 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 19, 5105 Balcones Woods Drive. Operation Blue Santa will receive 25% of total proceeds from Schlotzky’s on those days.
Salvation Army Austin Angel Tree: You can select a child to buy gifts for through Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. Select an angel on the virtual tree at salvationarmyaustin.org and then drop off your gifts at one of five locations. Walmart stores also have Angel Trees, and you can even click on an angel and have the gifts shipped from Walmart directly to the Angel Tree warehouse.
Be a Santa to a Senior: We think of getting gifts for kids, but many local seniors are also in need of something for the holidays and are especially alone right now. Put in your ZIP code and find a wish list for a local senior. The gifts are all given virtually and then delivered to that senior. beasantatoasenior.com
Statesman Season for Caring: Read the stories of the 12 featured families nominated by local nonprofit organizations. Then decide which family your family wants to help. This year, you can shop the family’s virtual wish list and have gifts delivered right to the family. statesman.com/seasonforcaring
Shop your favorite charity’s Amazon wish list: Groups like Meals on Wheels Central Texas, Austin Pets Alive, Caritas of Austin, Central Texas Food Bank and SAFE Alliance have links to their wish lists on their websites. As a family, research different Austin charities and see if your family’s favorite has a wish list on its site or on Amazon. The beauty of these lists is you click on the items you want to give and they get delivered directly to that organization.
Generation Serve: If you want your kids to do something more active, sign up for a Generation Serve event at generationserve.org. Most of them are done at home. You pick up the materials ahead of time, attend the workshop by Zoom, make the charitable gift and then drop it off for distribution. In December, you can make cards for kids in the hospital or for senior centers, make animal toys or make care kits for people with cancer or parents with children in the hospital.
They also have some events that are outdoors and in-person with safety protocols, such as cleaning up McKinney Falls State Park or Mount Bonnell.
Central Texas Food Bank: People age 8 and older can volunteer in the warehouse. You can sign up each member of your family to work a shift together. COVID-19 safety measures are in place. centraltexasfoodbank.org
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas: On its website, rmhc-ctx.org, Ronald McDonald House has a list of projects you can do at home. These include making cards, assembling activity packages and toiletry kits, making no-sew blankets, and crocheting or sewing hats for babies in neonatal intensive care units.
Carrying Hope: You can make a Hope Pack for a kid in foster care. Each Hope Pack is a backpack filled with pajamas, underwear, socks, a toy, books, flashlight, night light, games, toothpaste and toothbrush, and more. carryinghope.com
Your teacher: This year has officially been the hardest for them. Ask if they have something on their wish lists that you can help supply for a class so they don’t have to spend their own money, or send them a gift card to H-E-B, Walmart, Target, Amazon or elsewhere, in addition to a fun gift just for them.
Your favorite charity or cause: What are your kids passionate about? Have them do some research into different organizations that support that. Perhaps they take some of their allowance to give to that charity or they do extra chores to earn money to give.
Your neighbors: Somewhere in your neighborhood is someone who is alone this holiday season or has lost someone recently. Think about playing secret Santa or dropping off cards, gifts, cookies or a plate of holiday food to their door. Don’t know anyone in your neighborhood? Ask your house of worship if there is someone in your congregation who could use extra care.