As our kids' attentions start focusing more and more on what they want this holiday season, I always like to steer some of that attention toward what other people in our community need.
One great way to connect our kids with the needs in the community is to focus on the things they have and that other people don't have. Does their baby sister always get a clean diaper when she needs it? Is it always hard to pick a bedtime story? Are their bellies full with a nutritious meal each night? Do they have everything they need at home? Do they have plenty of clothes even when the hamper is full?
For many children, the answer is no.
Over the years, with my own kids, I've worked to collect items that they use in their everyday lives to drive home the point that they have so much and there are many out there who have very little. In fact, collecting these items might make for a great activity during the long winter break as you make room for all of the new books and gifts Santa put under the tree.
Green Chair Project: The Raleigh-based group provides furniture, kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, home decor and other items to those transitioning from homelessness. They need just about everything, but could really use simple things such as:
- shower rings, curtains and liners.
- new bed pillows in original plastic.
- pot holders, salt and pepper shakers, and silverware trays.
- can openers, colanders, large spoons and slotted spoons, measuring cups and spoons, vegetable peelers, and whisks.
- Bedding for children, such as twin sets with popular characters or fun colors, as part of the group's program to provide beds for children in Wake County schools who don't have one.
- High quality used or new school clothes and shoes. (They distribute bags of clothes that children can wear to school).
- Adult clothes that are appropriate for older students. Many teens wear adult sizes.
- New socks and underwear.
Book Harvest: I wrote about this local group this week. The Durham-based group collects books and distributes them to children in the Triangle who need them. Book ownership boosts a child's academic and language skills, studies show. Here's what they need:
- Your books! As your kids fill up their own shelves with new books this holiday season, consider donating the ones they've outgrown.
Diaper Bank of North Carolina: Everyday babies go without the diapers they need to stay clean and healthy because their parents simply can't afford them. Public programs such as SNAP and WIC don't cover the cost of diapers. This growing nonprofit distributes diapers to agencies in large parts of North Carolina to help families in need. They also provide other items including feminine hygiene products for students at public schools. They need:
- Diapers in all sizes, including opened packages of diapers that your child has outgrown.
Inter-Faith Food Shuttle's BackPack Buddies: This program provides weekend meals for children, who receive free or reduced price lunches at school and might not otherwise have access to food when school is out. The bags are filled with single serving meals, healthy snacks and drinks. Here's what they really need:
- Meats and stews, including single serving soups, stews and pasta dishes that can be warmed up in the microwave and cans or pouches of tuna fish.
- Packaged noodles such as Ramen or Easy Mac macaroni and cheese.
- Healthy snacks such as raisins, pretzels or granola bars.
- Canned fruits and vegetables.
- Boxes of 100 percent juice or milk.