Where to Make Meaningful Donations This Season

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Last year I was blown away by this community, and how you guys came together from near & far to fulfill over 100 holiday wishes of kids at a local shelter. It felt incredibly special to team up and make an impact together. This year, with the changing needs of our communities during the pandemic, I wanted to encourage supporting a cause that feels special to you, if you’re able.

While some organizations are still accepting in-person donations, many have new restrictions for Covid safety or are requesting gift cards instead, so be sure to confirm first. If you’re considering an organization that is new to you, you can look on Charity Navigator to get a better understanding of how donations are used. And if you’ll be making a monetary donation, don’t forget to check if your employer will match it!

I wanted to share a few suggestions below, and if you work with a charity doing great work this year, please share in the comments!

A Few Ideas for Giving Back Locally

  • Contributing to a local food bank – especially important this year with food insecurity on the rise
  • Donating gift cards (including grocery store gift cards) to a local women or kids shelter
  • Checking with local hospitals if they have an online wishlist for patients during the holidays
    • example benefiting MassGeneral Hospital for Children shared by a reader
  • Checking with local schools or low income daycares if they have classroom needs or online wishlists
    • example from a local daycare for homeless children shared by a reader

A few National & Boston-Specific Orgs

1. Feeding America

Millions of people were already struggling with hunger in the US, but with the ongoing pandemic there are more and more families now facing this reality. It’s estimated that 50 million people, including 17 million kids, may face food insecurity this year. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization that works with a lot of local branches.

How to support: find your local food bank to contribute to, make a monetary donation ($1 can provide 10 meals to families in need), or volunteer (with Covid safety precautions).

2. Cradles to Crayons (Boston, Chicago & Philadelphia)

Cradles to Crayons provides essential items for children (from birth through age 12) living in homeless or low-income situations. This year, they also established an Emergency Essentials Fund to provide vulnerable families with diapers, hygiene products, school supplies and more during the pandemic. We were told that their families in need this winter have nearly doubled from what they were expecting.

How to support: Donate items from their Amazon wishlist, or drop off new or like-new children’s items to your local Giving Factory (find locations). Or, make a monetary gift to support their ongoing work – $33 supports 1 child. I also wanted to mention this charity has one of the highest ratings on Charity Navigator for financials & accountability / transparency.

3. Home for Little Wanderers

The Home supports Massachusetts children and families in at-risks situations through their various services, including housing and care for children in need, and helps prepare them to transition back to their families, on to their next home, or to independent living.
How to support: Adopt a family and fulfill their holiday wishes (via gift cards this year), or mail a gift card for one of the children on this list. Please read the fulfillment instructions linked under each page.

4. Boston Food Organizations

Greater Boston Food Bank, a local Feeding America branch, is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and works with a lot of smaller organizations within local neighborhoods and communities.

Food for Free, a Cambridge-based organization “rescues” food that would otherwise go to waste (i.e. from farms, universities, restaurants) and turns them into groceries and meals they distribute to in-need families, students, and people with disabilities.

Boston.com is keeping an updated running list of local organizations currently accepting food donations.

5. Room to Grow (Boston + NYC)

Room to Grow supports low-income families with babies from newborn to age three through a preventative three-year program, starting from the mother’s 3rd trimester of pregnancy throughout the baby’s first three years of life. Currently, some of their greatest needs are winter coats and accessories in baby & kids sizes up to 4T.

How to support: Purchase items from their Amazon wishlist, donate qualifying baby items via contactless drop-offs (more slots are being added for Boston this week) or via mail, or donate funds. I was told the NYC locations are currently accepting mail-in donations at their Bronx location only.

6. Casa Myrna

Casa Myrna is Boston’s largest provider of shelter and supportive services to survivors of domestic violence. In addition to their residential programs, their services provide over 1,600 survivors annually with tools to recover from the trauma of abuse and begin to build sustainable self-sufficiency. We were told the pandemic has made it an especially tumultuous year with a notable increase in those needing their services.

How to support: Gift cards (especially to Stop & Shop grocery stores) are their greatest need for distributing to those in their program, but you can also coordinate with Paola to donate new household & baby items for their residential programs or donate funds.

7. Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place is one of the first women’s shelters in the US, with a mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment to help women in need maintain their dignity, seek opportunity and find security in their lives. They assist approximate 12,000 women a year through wide-ranging support, housing and education services.

How to support: From their Support Our Work page – purchase items to stock their food pantry (items are purchased online and will be delivered directly to Rosie’s Place), donate & mail in a holiday gift cards, or put together a care package for Rosie’s Place guests.