**UPDATED FOR 2016**
The holidays are busy. Our time is filled with planning meals, wrapping presents, entertaining guests, and tracking down Santa for a photo. It is also a time where we are reminded of our many blessings and seek ways to give back to our community. If you are searching for opportunities in which you and your family can spread a little holiday cheer, we have highlighted some amazing local initiatives to help those in need!
International Rescue Committee: IRC in Wichita will be hosting their annual Giving Tree program. This program allows groups or individuals to “adopt” a newly resettled refugee family for the holidays and purchase gifts for them. For more information please contact the In-Kind Donation Coordinator at [email protected]
Operation Christmas Child: Fill a shoe box with special gifts, hygiene items, and school supplies for a child in need throughout the world. National Collection Week is November 16-21 with several drop-off locations in the Wichita area. Share this experience with your children by helping them decide how to fill the box, wrap it, drop it off, and post it on social media with #ipackedabox.
#INSPIREHOPE: Giving Tuesday is November 29, 2016. Help EmberHope provide one month of care for the 274 foster care youth they serve. For $65 a month, you can provide a roof, bed, food, clothing and ultimately a safe home to a child. With a record number of children in foster care in Kansas, this is an incredibly simple way to help.
Operation Holiday: For more than 60 years, this program has distributed nonperishable food, fresh food vouchers, pet food, winter wear and blankets to low-income families and individuals during the holiday season. Grab your family, friends, or co-workers and organize a donation drive or simply drop off requested items at a designated drop-off location. You can also volunteer your time to help with distribution of donations to the more than 12,000 individuals who benefit from Operation Holiday each year.
Fresh Start Bags & More: The number of human trafficking cases in Kansas continues to grow. ICT S.O.S. distributes Fresh Start Bags all year long to victims of exploitation and at-risk youth. These bags provide the basic necessities for a fresh start and all you need to do is add the items to your weekly shopping list.
Food Donation: Kansas Food Bank serves 85 counties in the state. Based on a recent study, 1 in 7 people in our service area are designated as food insecure. The food bank has already distributed more than 10 million meals this year. The need is especially great during the holiday season. Food or funds are always appreciated! Kansas Food Bank is currently requesting donations of peanut butter, canned fruit, canned tuna or chicken, and bagged cereal.
Christmas for Kids: Through Saint Francis Community Services, you can fulfill a foster child’s Christmas wish! Donations are accepted through the first week of December and can be dropped off at a local office. To obtain a wish list, contact the Wichita office at 316-831-0330.
Adopt-A-Bell/Food Drive: Mental Health Association of South Central Kansas has two heartfelt initiatives to help individuals and families suffering from mental illness; many who do not have the ability to provide gifts for their children or are isolated adults. You partner with the agency to adopt a family and make their Christmas truly special. You can also donate ingredients necessary to make a holiday meal. Recipients are identified all the way through Christmas, though most donations should be received by mid-December. For more information, email [email protected]
More great ways for your family to give back:
- Bake cookies for your local police station or fire station
- Shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway after a Kansas winter storm
- Donate blood through the American Red Cross
- Contact a local school’s social worker for families in immediate need
- Adopt an animal at the Kansas Humane Society
- Send a card to a service member deployed overseas
- Volunteer to ring bells for the Salvation Army
- Run in the Great Santa Run 5K benefiting Team RWB and local veterans
- Donate a toy for Toys for Tots
Have an opportunity to add? Share it in the comments to help spread more cheer!
holiday volunteer opportunities in wichita