This time of year always encourages a focus on thankfulness and gratitude. These are great things to teach our children, and one of the best ways to do that is by giving back, serving, and loving on those who may be less fortunate. There are all kinds of ways to do that this holiday season right here in our own city!
For the second year in a row the IRC in Wichita will be hosting their Giving Tree program. This program allows groups or individuals to “adopt” a newly resettled refugee family for the holidays and purchase gifts for them. Community members are welcome to come into the office beginning on November 14th to select an ornament with the information about an individual or family from the tree and to purchase gifts for them. All gifts be brought to the IRC by Monday, December 12th. The IRC staff and volunteers will wrap and distribute the gifts the following week. For more information please contact the In-Kind Donation Coordinator at [email protected]
There are several opportunities with the Kansas Food Bank. You can donate monetarily, donate food on your own as a family any time by dropping it off yourself, or you can sponsor a food drive and they’re happy to pick up donations that are collected. You can find all of the details on their website. Another option is to volunteer your time either by sorting donations in their warehouse or helping with their Food 4 Kids program that packs weekend carriers with food for chronically hungry children. Again, all of the details and the policies for volunteering can be found on the Kansas Food Bank website.
Eastminster has a tradition of putting together Thanksgiving Food Boxes and will be doing so Saturday, November 19th at 9 AM in their gym. Children are welcome and families are encouraged to serve together packing boxes and then personally delivering them to families around Wichita. Find details and information about signing up to serve here.
Union Rescue Mission feeds hundred of homeless and hungry Wichitans Thanksgiving dinner every year. You can donate monetarily (and see exactly how many people your donation feeds) or donate items they’re always in need of including food, clothing, bedding, and hygiene items. Find a list of their most critical needs here.
The Lord’s Diner requires around 70 volunteers a day to prepare and serve their nightly meal. Contact them to check available volunteer opportunities and get signed up for a day that works for you! It does require a food handler’s license, but classes are offered regularly for free at the Wichita Environmental Health Department and at several area churches.
An easy and practical way to give back is to use Midas for oil changes. Through their Drive Out Hunger campaign, they donate $1 to local food banks for each oil change they do.
Open Door is always looking for meal providers (hot or cold lunch meals) at the Homeless Resource Center. Groups are encouraged to help serve the meal, if possible. Find more details and contact information here.
Andover Community Food Bank (operated by Andover United Methodist Church) needs volunteers to help organize and prepare the food bank, as well as volunteers to distribute needs. They’re also always accepting donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, and baby items, but occasionally run specific food drives or need specific items.
His Helping Hands provides assistance to families in need through clothing, furniture, other household items, and a food pantry at no cost. They have several different volunteer opportunities and donation needs.
There are always collections going on for warm coats, hats, gloves, and blankets for the homeless and all kinds of other ways you can serve others in our city. If none of the above options interest you, come up with your own way to give back and start a new family tradition!