Perfect the Art of Giving This Holiday Season by Giving Donations That Are Actually Useful
The seasonal serenade of the Salvation Army’s doorkeeper bells serves as our annual reminder to those less fortunate. As we go in and out of stores to avoid contact with greeters, we make a mental note of guiltily adding “Check Donation Supplies and Closets for Donations” to our endless to-do lists.
And while those cereal boxes your kids refused to try or that unopened jar of peanut butter would be appreciated by food insecure families, we often fail to think that they could also use some of those little luxuries and necessities that make life worth living and which we often take for granted.
The art of donating is simple and it boils down to making your donations really count during the holiday season and beyond.
Some Scrooges may maintain the view that those in need will (and should be) grateful for all they can get. But who are we to monitor another person’s wants or needs?
Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer clear.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free.
“It’s not our job to question whether they need it or not,” says Carolyn Benavides, owner of Carrollton’s Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs. “We have an abundance and we have to pass it on to people who can use it.”
Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs doubles as the Thanksgiving soup kitchen. But the restaurant takes care of the needy in many ways throughout the year.
The restaurant offers basic groceries as gifts to those in need and offers cooked and fresh take-away meals. About once a month the pizzeria opens its doors to seniors to enjoy freshly prepared meals.
On Joe’s Pizza Facebook page, Benavides posted lists of the most urgently needed donations: plastic bags, foil, plastic dishes, styrofoam trays, butter, milk, condiments, degreaser, detergent and bin bags. All of these elements are overlooked by donors.
From schools to libraries to shop fronts, everyone seems to be collecting canned goods and other useful donations. Non-perishable foods fly off the shelves of pantries, but fresh groceries, meat, cutlery and cookware are scarce.
Frequent donations to most food distribution charities often require additional items or special cookware to prepare a full meal. Bread, meat, pans, milk, and butter are requirements when trying to make a sandwich, pasta, rice, and meeting the family’s nutritional needs. While donors are well-meaning, Hamburger Helper isn’t exactly helpful without a hamburger.
Canned food is also a long-lasting, convenient staple, but how do you open these canned foods? Pop-top cans are preferred unless the can dispenser comes with a can opener. For the same reason, pantries also need utensils to go with the food they serve. There is also strong demand for paper towels, pans, pots, foils, oil, flour and sugar, which are indispensable in every kitchen.
Small household appliances, which are often overlooked as donations, can have an impact on the quality of life and nutrition of displaced persons. An object like a crockpot can offer them the opportunity to prepare a hot meal.
To maximize your immortal donations, think outside the box. Consider donating the fresh groceries needed for a full meal that bridges the nutritional gaps, the household items needed to cook, and the supplies that need to be tidied up after the meal.
Soup kitchens and community organizers like Benavides nurture relationships with those in need and help put donations into the hands of those who could benefit the most. Benavides also serves as a point of contact for school counselors, trainers, churches and community leaders to meet the diverse needs of the community.
In addition to food, the soup kitchen distributes furniture, booster seats (used car seats are not recommended for small children), work equipment, bicycles, clothing and household appliances. They also provide financial support for bills and rent. Donations to Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs Thanksgiving Day Soup Kitchen can be made on their website or made at 1904 E. Belt Line Road.
“I’ve never thrown anything that someone gave us, never,” says Benavides. “We can always take it to someone who needs it. It’s so wonderful to have a dedicated community. ”
Another often overlooked donation, says Benavides, is laundry detergent. Hygienic aside, clean clothing enables people to maintain their job opportunities and prevents children from being bullied at school.
Say it with your breast DTX (SIWYC), a left-wing community organization run by black women, organizes weekly laundry days for people without a home. The organization visits homeless camps and collects dirty clothes. Together with volunteers and other community organizations, SIWYC members gather on Wednesdays to collect, wash and bundle clothes and then return the freshly bundled clothes to their owners.
“We do it because we also have to do our laundry and we know what it is like not to have clean clothes and the importance of them,” SIWYC organizer Danielle told Fox 4 News in November. “We’re just helping our neighbors, really.”
“It’s not our job to question whether they need it or not. … We have an abundance and we need to give it to people who can use it. ”- Carolyn Benavides, Owner of Carrollton’s Joe’s Pizza, Pasta & Subs
According to SIWYC organizers, there is an overwhelming need for clean clothing and aside from donating food, donors should also consider clothing care items such as laundry detergent, fabric softener and laundry bags. These types of donations give individuals a chance to take care of the few things they have. Volunteers are also wanted on the washing days. Interested parties can contact SIWYC via their Instagram page to donate or volunteer.
For the Genesis Women’s Shelter’s 2020 vacation program, the nonprofit requested gift cards from donors in order to comply with pandemic safety protocols. The program was particularly effective as gift cards give families the autonomy to choose the gifts to put under the tree and give them the opportunity to play Santa Claus for their children.
“When you give away a gift certificate, you are giving a woman in need the opportunity to choose a luxury that has been repeatedly stolen from her by her abusive partner,” states the Genesis Women’s Shelter website.
The shelter kept the gift card concept for the 2021 holiday program, collecting Visa and Amazon gift cards, which they distribute as gift cards valued at $ 150 per mother and $ 50 per child. Mothers are also given packing materials so they can partake in the little traditions that make the holidays special. Donations can be made on the shelter’s website.
Whenever you’re giving a gift to a shelter or individual, consider donating a gift certificate – the gift of choice gives families a sense of normalcy. But every non-profit organization has its wish-list. It doesn’t hurt to call ahead and find out how best you can help so that your charity does the most good.