(This photo is like 5 years old, don’t feel bad, I haven’t actually curled my hair in months. 😜)
I am so thrilled that now I can say HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
And what better way to kick off the first day of December and the 2020 holiday season than with Giving Tuesday?
I am already excited to see that so many of you have been volunteering and donating to the causes near and dear to your heart today for Giving Tuesday. But for those who are still looking to get involved, I thought it would be fun to round up my favorite ways to do just that!
I know money is tight for so many this year. But there are so many ways you can give back, pay it forward, and make a difference without ever spending a dime! So whether you’d like to donate your time, your skills, $5, or hundreds of dollars–you’ll find some great ways to spread joy this season in this post.
Easy Ways to Give Back + Spread Joy this Holiday Season and Everyday!
Little acts of kindness that only cost a few dollars, or for free!
Pay for someone’s coffee:
Whether that’s buying the person’s coffee in line behind you, or buying a bunch of $5 Starbucks gift cards at the grocery store and giving them out to those who could use a little thank-you–it’s a random act of kindness that will always be appreciated! This works great for USPS/UPS/FedEx drivers, not to mention a great thing to hand out to healthcare workers (especially if you go to get a COVID test!)
Compliment everyone you see today!
Something that is totally free, and will give you just as much joy as it will the recipient! Whether it’s an “I love your mask!” to the random person on the street, or telling your coworker on zoom how much their laugh always brightens your day–little compliments go so far! (Check out this list of compliments that have nothing to do with appearance!)
Send a quick note of gratitude:
Think of a couple people you are especially thankful for and send them a quick note of appreciation! It could be someone in your current life. Or from your past–like an old teacher, doctor, mentor, nanny–whomever! It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just a quick text or email to let them know you appreciate them!
Volunteer your time or skills:
Share the local organizations that are important to you on social media!
Whether it’s your favorite local restaurant or shop that needs help driving business, or a charity that is near and dear to your heart, one of the best free ways to show your support is to spread the word!
Help a mom!
Purchase some affordable toys, crayons, coloring books, etc at the dollar store, and drop them in the front yard of a mom who could use a break. (Or put them on the corner of a with a sign!)
Donate food + clothing locally
Have you heard of “Little Pantries”? They are a spin-off of little libraries and I think they are the best idea ever. You could either create your own little pantry on your block. Or purchase some non-perishable goods to leave in one near you! You can find more information, from how to create your own, to where to find your nearest little pantry, on their website! (This would be a great thing to post on NextDoor or your community Facebook page to see if there is an interest in creating one in your community!)
I first heard about the Love Fridges this past summer. And more and more continue to pop up! Like the Little Pantries, Love Fridges aim to nourish Chicago’s communities while combating food scarcity and food waste, providing a way for neighbors to help one another!
How to help? Easy! Just check out their list of most needed items. Pick them up on your next grocery store run, and leave them in your local fridge for others to use. You can also sign up to clean out a fridge, volunteer your skills, host a fridge at your neighborhood business, or even donate a fridge!
Local Food Banks:
So many families are affected by hunger, and in the Pandemic, food pantries and those they serve are in need of support more than ever. Consider looking up your local food pantry, and dropping off some non-perishables to help local families! (If you’re local to Chicago, Chicago Food Depository accepts donations at any of these locations! IGrowChicago also accepts food donations to their Peace Pantry, and you can supply them with food and necessities without ever leaving your couch by purchasing items from their Amazon Wishlist!) If you are comfortable and able, volunteers are also VERY in-demand. And volunteering your time at your local pantry is a great way to make a big impact!
Coats, socks, hats, gloves, and scarves are always in demand this time of year, especially in cold climates! If you have any gently used items to donate, there are SO many organizations to donate to! I recommend googling “where to donate clothing in [your area]”. And many local organizations will come up! Salvation Army has always been a go-to of ours. And One Warm Coat is another national organization that organizes coat drives nationwide!
Adopt a local family:
There are SO many great organizations that can connect families who could use a little support this holiday season to those looking to give back. Again, just google “adopt a family holiday 2020 in [your area” and you’ll find so many opportunities that pop up. Local churches are also a good place to ask. As are local messageboards like NextDoor or your neighborhood Facebook groups!
This year, my friends and I got together to adopt a big family through IGrowChicago (though I don’t see the sign up posted anymore, which means they must have their needs met–– Hooray!) but I know there are still so many organizations that could use a hand!
There are SO many deserving organizations that deserve our support–I could spend hours listing all of them. But here is a list of organizations that we are personally involved with and contribute to on a regular basis. If you are looking for some new fantastic organizations to donate to, this is a great place to start!
**Facebook matching: A note on monetary donations: I’ve heard that Facebook is matching donations today for any donations made through the Facebook platform, so if you’d like to donate montarily, consider doing so that way!
**Corporate matching: Many employers also have a matching program, so keep record of all your donations and check to see if your employer is willing to match! Ask your HR department if you are unsure!
I was recently introduced to IGrow Chicago by my best friend. And if you’re looking to get involved locally, this is one of the first places I recommend starting! They have so many ways to volunteer. Whether that’s with time, skills, money, goods, or more.
Their first Peace House was created on what was previously one of the most dangerous blocks in West Englewood, and has become a symbol of hope and transformation. Today, they have a whole Peace Campus, which serves as a community gathering and healing zone! IGrow has 15+ different programs working to address the traumatic effects of violence and poverty–they are all run by community members and volunteers, and assists every generation of West Englewood. Residents learn the tools they need to stop violence before it starts. From how to take a deep breath before reacting to how to apply for and succeed in jobs.
It’s hard to accurately describe how many ways MBMHMC touches the Chicago community! While the organizations main focus is serving underpriviledged youth, they organize dozens of efforts from decorating homes for the holidays, organizing local food drives, providing support for elderly neighbors (via food deliveries, and wellness calls), neighborhood clean-up efforts, raising funds for Black Women-Led organizations and companies, and so much more. M3 brings people together from all 77 Chicago neighborhoods in the most inspiring way to foster community. And it’s very special to be apart of! I highly recommend following their Instagram to stay up to date on all the ways to get involved, as they are ever-growing!
Both sides of Neal’s family have been deeply involved in Misericordia for generations. And it’s an organization that is very near and dear to us!
Misericordia offers a community of care to those with mild to profound developmental disabilities. Many of whom are also physically challenged. By serving society’s most vulnerable citizens, Misericordia also serves the families who want the best for them, yet cannot provide it at home.
Because so many of their fundraising efforts are in-person and had to be cancelled due to COVID, they could use every bit of our support this year! Aside from donating online, a great way to give back with your holiday shopping this year is by purchasing one of their holiday gift sets from their bakery!
The Okra Project is a collective that seeks to address the global crisis of violence faced by Black Trans people by providing delicious and nutritious food, mental health services, resources, and other aid to Black Trans people worldwide! They have been forced to really pivot during the Pandemic (as their original efforst were focused in-home!) and have done such a good job of continuing to figure out ways to support those they serve!
A new-to-me organization, Black Girl Ventures is Equilibria’s official new charitable partner–as a for-women, by-women startup, we are thrilled to be teaming up with an organization that focuses on creating access to capital for Black/Brown women founders! Today, 10% of all Equilibria sales will be donated to BGV and I’m excited to share more about them in the coming months! (They’re also running an additional 10% off discount as well. You can still stack my code JESSKEYS on top for a total of 25% off if it’s your first order!)
See their website Founded by Stacey Abrams, FairFight works tirelessly to fight voter supression, drive voter registration and participation in Georgia and around the country. Their work has never been more important, and they need all hands on deck right now as we get closer and closer to the Georgia Runoff election! for how to donate, and learn about how you can get involved!
Named after the revolutionary Black Transgender activist, the Marsha P. Johnson Institute (MPJI) protects and defends the human rights of Black transgender people by organizing and advocating for Black transgender rights, creating an intentional community to heal, develop transformative leadership, and more. They seek to eradicate systemic, community, and physical violence that silences the transgender community from actualizing freedom, joy, and safety. Today they are aiming to raise $50,000 toward MPJI’s Covid relief efforts! You can donate via their website here.
ActBlue’s Fund to Support Families at the Border:
If you want to support multiple charities at one time, ActBlue is a great way to do that with many types of charities. For example, I’m a regular contrbutor of this fund, that splits my donations evenly between 14 organizations doing incredibly important work to help families separated by ICE.
Let’s spread some kindness and joy today! ❤️