It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And amid all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s all too easy to become so focused on our families and friends that we forget about those who are less fortunate than we are. As much as the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company strive to give back to our community all year long, it’s important to also think of the members of our community who face a lonely, hard, often cold reality during this time of year. It’s easy to spread Christmas cheer to our neighbors, friends, and family who are reciprocating, but there are lots of ways we can help ease the burdens of others who are down on their luck. Here are seven of the many ways you can help get involved and give back to the community this holiday season in Charleston.
One80 Place’s mission statement shows their commitment to ending and preventing homelessness “one person at a time, one family at a time.” This organization provides housing services, health care, food, training, legal services, and veteran services to those in need. To date, they have sheltered 41,597 people and served 2,523,210 meals. We’re proud to have partnered with One80 Place this year to hold a drive for needed supplies, and we would love to see others give in any way they can to help this organization in their mission, which is of vital importance to our community. Volunteering, fundraising, and gifting opportunities are listed on their website.
Lowcountry Food Bank provides both education and nutritious options needed by partner agencies and schools that serve our community’s most vulnerable. This organization serves the ten coastal counties of South Carolina through distribution centers in Charleston, Yemassee, and Myrtle Beach. In 2018, Lowcountry Food Bank partnered with 300 agencies to serve 200,000 people, distributing 31,200,000 pounds of food. Those who feel moved to donate to this organization can give food, money, or time by joining the thousands of volunteers each year who volunteer to help fight hunger in our community. Volunteer opportunities include food sorting and packing, production kitchen, nutrition education, administrative support, and special events. For more options, check Lowcountry Food Bank’s website.
A non-medical, nonprofit organization that focuses on families devastated by childhood cancer, Courageous Kidz aims to pick up the pieces when life goes awry due to cancer, restore normalcy, and give the Magic of Hope. The challenges of a family facing cancer are copious and present long-term side effects, financial havoc, insurance conflicts, marital and familial conflict…the list is endless. Courageous Kidz strives to provide much-needed respite, mutual support, and positive activities free of charge to children and their families who are fighting cancer together. Their goal is to relieve as much stress as possible so children and their families can concentrate on beating cancer and getting well again! Courageous Kidz welcomes volunteers and donations to help them fulfill their mission of bringing a smile to children with cancer and their families. Find more information on how to do so here.
In 2013, seven-year-old Jackson Silverman and his five-year-old twin brothers Gabe and Riley founded the nonprofit organization I Heart Hungry Kids. Since then, the boys have been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for their work with youth volunteers in South Carolina, living their motto, “kids helping kids to beat hunger.” I Heart Hungry Kids works with volunteers ages 5 through 15 to provide empowering opportunities for giving back through programs that impact kid hunger issues right here in Charleston. You’d be hard-pressed to think of a more worthy charity to support than one founded by children with such big hearts! Since 2013, I Heart Hungry Kids has provided 395,000 pounds of food, packed 82,000 bags of food, and provided 15,000 service hours via 5,000 youth volunteers through hands-on service, community engagement, and food advocacy. Find ways to volunteer, donate, or sponsor an event on their website.
Founded in 1980, My Sister’s House, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides services, programs, and resources to empower victims of domestic violence and their children to live free from abuse. The organization operates an emergency temporary shelter at an undisclosed location for up to 36 women and children who flee abusive situations in Charleston, Berkeley, and Dorchester Counties. Their programs and services, which are all free to their clients, include outreach and training, advocacy, shelter, counseling/therapy, support groups, a children’s program, and more. So far in 2019, My Sister’s House has served 228 women and children in shelter, answered 1,768 crisis calls, and assisted with 790 court advocacy cases. There are multiple ways to donate or volunteer with this worthy organization, so check out their site for more information.
The primary goal of Meals on Wheels is to end senior isolation and hunger. Advances in medicine have extended the average life expectancy to a record high of almost 79 years of age. Living longer is an amazing thing, but it can also mean spending more years dealing with the struggles that accompany old age. Add to that the increase in geographic mobility of our families, and the result is millions of seniors left behind, hungry and alone. Meals on Wheels primarily provides nutritious meals, a quick safety check, and much-needed human connection to homebound seniors. In some communities, additional services are offered, like pet food delivery, senior center meal programs, and more. People age 85 and older represent the fastest growing segment of the American population. It takes a whole lot in the way of volunteers and resources to keep pace with this rapid growth, and it will take a large increase in volunteers and resources to begin to meet the needs going forward. Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers and donations, so check out their website for ways you can contribute!
Individuals who live permanently or temporarily under the care of assisted living are always grateful for company and donations. Many centers, rehabs, and residences welcome families who are willing to give their time and energy to help spread some holiday cheer to their residents under their care. Contact your local nursing home, assisted living facility, or senior center to see how you can help bring Christmas tidings to their residents. Throw a holiday party, play games, bring treats or decorations, or just spend some time listening to and chatting with the elderly and help make their days.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, just feed one.” ~Mother Teresa