As winter starts to settle in (maybe a little early for some of our tastes), we start thinking about things like hot chocolate and warm fires and nights spent inside with the people we love. It’s an exciting time of year, but it’s also a good time to think about those who may not be as happy this winter.
There are a lot of unique issues that winter brings for those in the changemaking community. From working to get everyone a warm coat to reaching out to those suffering from SAD (it’s a thing, we promise), there are a lot of issues to be addressed during winter. Read on to learn about some ideas for winter charity work.
Give Someone a Coat
In the mornings, when the temperatures start dropping, it’s a natural thing to reach into the closet and pull out your favorite coat. You wouldn’t dream of going out in below-freezing temperatures without a coat on. For most of us, having a coat is something we take for granted.
It’s easy to forget, but for many people, a warm coat is a luxury they cannot afford. For the homeless, especially those living in colder parts of the world, it may mean the difference between life and death. Everyone should have at least one warm coat.
That’s the mission of the charity One Warm Coat. They hold drives across the country collecting funds and coats to provide a warm coat to every person in need. Since 1992, they have given away more than 5 million coats.
Tomorrow, November 15, is One Warm Coat Day, a day to spread awareness and raise funds for this awesome charity. If you have some extra cash, their site says that $5 helps provide ten people with coats. If you prefer to donate your time, check out their info on how to set up a drive in your area.
Support Homeless Charities
Winter is one of the most challenging times of year for the homeless. In addition to the usual problems they live with, they also have to contend with the cold and sometimes danger of frostbite or hypothermia. More than a thousand people die of hypothermia each year because they don’t have a place to go.
Look around in your area for a charity that supports the homeless. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out lists online, or run a search for your area. If cash is a little tight this holiday season, you can donate your time as a volunteer helping these charities.
Give Someone Holiday Cheer
One of the most fun parts of the holidays is the giving and receiving of presents. Searching for the perfect gift, wrapping it, and watching your loved one open it is a joyful process. And of course, who doesn’t love getting the perfect gift?
For some people, though, giving gifts around the holidays may not be such a fun process. People in nursing homes often may not have any gifts, and the homeless and women and children in shelters may not be able to have holiday gifts. Lending a helping hand to those people can make an enormous impact during the holidays.
You’ve almost certainly seen drives for Toys for Tots, a charity which focuses on providing toys to needy children. Sometimes nursing homes also run gift drives for their residents to make sure their holidays are happy. Some local programs collect wish lists from struggling families in the area and ask for donations to give them a miraculous holiday.
Feed the Hungry
Food is another huge part of holiday celebrations. No doubt you’ve already started planning your Thanksgiving dinner, and possibly meals for the rest of the holidays as well. But for those on food stamps, homeless people, and other underprivileged communities, large holiday meals may not be a reality.
There’s no better time than the holidays to help feed the hungry, both in your community and around the world. Food pantries are a great resource for this; while you’re digging out that can of cranberry sauce, maybe toss a few cans of food in a bag to donate. Soup kitchens are also a wonderful place to volunteer or donate during the holidays.
Support Mental Health
While the holidays are a generally joyful time, winter is not. Grey skies and sleet don’t make for a very cheerful atmosphere. But even beyond the usual wintertime blues, there are some people who suffer more during the winter months.
The aptly-named Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects about five percent of the U.S. population – more than 16 million people. Symptoms can include severe depression, anxiety, mood shifts, trouble sleeping, and more. Women are more prone to SAD than men, with four out of five SAD sufferers being women.
It’s especially important during the winter months to reach out to those around you. Check in on friends and family, and if you’re struggling, ask for help. There are a number of charities devoted to promoting mental health that you can contribute to as well.
Save the Planet
It seems like the topic of global warming gets brought up more often during the winter season, usually in a joking tone. “Where’s that global warming everyone’s been talking about; it’s freezing!” But climate change is a serious issue, and winter is a great time to do your bit to save the planet.
Whether it’s setting up a recycling program in your area or just picking up that can off the sidewalk, there are tons of ways you can support the fight against climate change. For one thing, you could donate to some of the excellent charities working to save our world. Or, if you prefer to make a more direct change, you can take small steps to help reduce your own carbon footprint.
Find More Ideas for Winter Charity Work
Winter is one of the most important times to be a changemaker. It’s a lean time of year for a lot of people, and winter charity work can make some of the most powerful impacts.
If you’d like more resources for changemaking and updates on winter charity work, keep an eye on our blog, Sullivan Connect. If there’s a topic you’d like to see or if you’d like to let us know about the projects you’re involved with, reach out to us!