Did you know that winter is a great time to give back to others? Most of the time, we save all the giving back for the nicer seasons, fundraisers, marathons, sporting leagues, service days and charity events. In the winter, Christmas seems to be the only time that we all focus on helping those in need. However, winter in Ohio can last all the way to March. Winter is also the coldest and sometimes most dreadful time of the year. Most of us hibernate during the winter; only go where we need to, stay to ourselves, bundle up inside. Unfortunately, for those in need winter can potentially be the most scary and worrisome time of the year.
Today, I wanted to share with you all the ways that we're able to give back to those in need this winter. There are many groups of people that suffer because of the colder months. For this post, I want to focus on the people without homes and their communities. Here are five unique, and fun, ways to give back this season!
1. Winter clothing: coats, hats, gloves & scarves
The easiest (and most helpful) way to give back is by donating old clothing and winter materials that you have. A cold night can turn into a deadly one without the right clothing and shelter. Many people think of donating with the mindset, "Well, I'm going to wear that eventually." Are you? For me, I'm always reaching for the same pair of gloves, hats and scarves. There's no need to have 5+ pairs of gloves. Donating what we're able to can make all the world to someone else.
Place to drop-off: a local church, homeless shelter or food bank
*I have always donated winter clothes to churches because typically they have a wide variety of people attend and they know the places to give back to the most!
2. Homeless shelters: meals
This one can be fun for the entire family, friend group or organization. If you purchase aluminum foil trays and fill them up with different types of hot food, it could help a homeless shelter immensely. Now, you're probably thinking filling up those food trays can get costly. You're totally right; they can be. But some cost effective meals are spaghetti, casserole dishes or mac-and-cheese. Even baking some desserts like baking cookies or making cake can brighten people's days.
Place to drop-off: homeless shelter or food bank
3. DIY blessing bags
I don't think it's right that we have to give any group of people survival kits. Unfortunately, we live in a world that makes it necessary. For these kits I'm going to look through the scope of surviving the weather. A few items in this kit can include: gloves, hand warmers, blanket, ponchos, water, bandages, lotion, socks, tissues, hand sanitizer, chapstick, canned foods, snack packs or reusable utensils. This project is all about how you want to create it. Whether you're putting in all of those suggestions or just choosing between four or five, I would suggest putting in the four or five items because you're able to fit in a Ziploc bag. Again, this could be costly, but there are many ways to make it inexpensive.
You can do it with family, friends, at work or in an organization. Split up the jobs or raise money to purchase all the items. If you have a group of about three to fifteen people, split up who is responsible for different items. For a group of 15 or more, I would suggest raising money and buying all the items in bulk.
Doing it yourself! Pick the less expensive items: water, canned food, bandages, hand warmers, snack packs, tissues or chapstick. Most of these items you can buy in bulk while in local stores or online!
Host a drive or fundraiser. Most people think that hosting drives or fundraisers has to happen in an organization. But that's not true! You can host a drive at the university, church, local library or around the city in local restaurants and grocery stores.
4. Winter supplies: blankets
I think these go unnoticed; however, once received I don't think they could ever be forgotten or go unused. Even though this one might be a little harder! Donating blankets does not have to be expensive this time of the year. Different department stores such as Walmart are selling quality blankets for less than $5. Or finding cheap quality ones at Goodwill is also a good solution (make sure to wash them first though).
Maybe you had the 2020 goal to pick up a new hobby or advance your crafting skills. Most of the time I learn from my grandma, mom or YouTube. But if you're learning how to sew, take some left over scraps and compose a blanket from them. Tying blankets are another great alternative and most craft stores used their left over scraps to make kits for customers at low costs. There are lots of possibilities in crafting different types of blankets to donate!
5. Be kind
I think one of the most damaging problems we have in society is underestimating how far a little kindness can go. When some people see homeless people on the streets they turn up their noses and declare that "If they didn't want to live like that they wouldn't." Well the truth is, who are we to decide that? In the two seconds that we look at them, who are we to determine who they are? We're nothing. As human beings over time we have lost the value that we place in human lives. To be gentle and kind to people is often a gift in itself. Even if it's not returned, just know that it mattered. Some people are so hard in this world and live with so much pain coursing through their system that a moment of kindness could become a beacon of light. \
For some giving back to this community can be letting go of many stereotypes. Remember that all of these donations and ways of giving are what you make of it. They don't have to be extravagant but rather simple and filled with generosity. People like being thought about and the simplest of giving can mean the world to someone.