Sharing with others, especially those in need, is really what the holidays are about. And this year, with the ongoing pandemic, helping others who need it most is more important than ever. There are many ways to give: Volunteer your time, serve meals, pass out blankets, or simply make a food or monetary donation to a charitable organization — especially those that serve our neighbors in Downtown Los Angeles.
You don’t have to save volunteering or donations for Thanksgiving or Christmas, of course. It’s one of the best things you can do year-round to make the world a better place. If you’re ready to open your heart, calendar, or wallet, here are some of the best ways to give this season and beyond.
How to Help the Homeless
The missions in DTLA are vital resources for thousands of people a year. Thanksgiving is an especially busy time of year, when more than 3,000 pounds of turkey is served to our neighbors, adults and kids alike, experiencing homelessness. There are so many ways to help, from donating time, money or goods to purchasing items from their Amazon Needs list.
One great way to ensure those who need a great Thanksgiving meal get one is to donate funds to the Union Rescue Mission. When you give to the 2x Thanksgiving Rescue program, there’s a grant that matches funds. So you’re basically giving two meals for one. Here are more ways to help throughout the year.
Since 1914, this DTLA mission serves thousands of men, women, and children every year, ensuring they get a hot meal, a place to rest their heads, and much needed services. Some ways to give: Donate goods, share financial resources, and don’t forget to check with your job about matching programs.
Every year, PATH gives out hundreds of Thanksgiving meal kits to families impacted by homeless so everyone can enjoy a special holiday meal. Ways to get involved: Donate items and help pack boxes to be given out, give via Amazon Smiles wish lists, or make a monetary donation. Find more info for all the ways to help here.
For more than 50 years, Union Station Homeless Services has hosted this annual holiday event in Pasadena’s Central Park. But like 2020, this year’s Thanksgiving celebration is taking place in a different way. There will be boxes of complete dinners to be given to individuals and families who can cook a meal at home; fully cooked dinners will be handed out to those without kitchens; and meals will be served at various community centers around the area. Donate funds to help keep the tradition alive.
Fight Food Insecurity
Even before the pandemic, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank provided food for more than two million people around Los Angeles County. Donate a few hours of your time at the DTLA facility or one of the local food drops, and know how big of a difference it makes. Register through the website and bring a group — it’s more fun in numbers.
Project Angel Food expects to deliver 800 meals on Thanksgiving (Nov. 25), and it needs items to go into the boxes. Think: Everything from boxed stuffing mix to pie filling and grocery store gift cards for the turkey. You can also purchase from the Amazon wish list to have goods delivered. Other ways to give both during the holidays and any time of year include donating items to be delivered directly to our neighbors living on the streets.
There are some things that haven’t changed during the pandemic, and childhood hunger is one of them. One in four children still go hungry every day in the U.S., and organizations like No Kid Hungry help on a daily basis. There are so many ways to give: Hold a bake sale fundraiser, donate funds directly, support charitable events where No Kid Hungry is a benefactor.
This incredible organization has given out food, clothing, shoes, and blankets every Sunday in Hollywood for over 20 years. On Thanksgiving Day alone, they pack and distribute more than 500 meals to our neighbors living on the streets. If the volunteer roster is full on the holiday, consider helping out any Sunday throughout the year.
Play Santa With Holiday Toy Drives
There’s nothing like seeing a kid’s eye glimmer with glee when they get a present around Christmastime. Organizations all over L.A. sponsor toy drives this time of year, from Toys for Tots boxes set up in your local grocery store to the biggies like Spark of Love sponsored by ABC-7 and Southern California Firefighters. Any time of year, you can give something for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles toy program, too.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public and Social Services program assists low-income families served by DPSS by providing new gifts such as toys, clothes, and food to help families and children celebrate the holidays in a special way. Sponsor families are matched with a family and provided with that family’s “wish list,” or donate via Amazon Smile wishlists. Find all the info here.
Featured Photo by Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash