While it is always a good idea to give back to your community, the holiday season small gestures mean the most to those in need. Whether it is a call to a friend you have lost touch with, a visit to a lonely senior in an assisted living center or donating a family at Christmas time, there are plenty of ways to give back on Cape Cod this holiday season.
“Adopt” a Family
Many times families sign up with an organization such as “Chatham Angel Fund” or “Christmas Wishes” (sponsored by The Cooperative Bank of Cape Cod and Cape Cod Broadcasting). Families across Cape Cod sign up with some details about their family members so that the person or people adopting the family have the members’ sizes, interests and ages so they can pick out gifts. If you can not adopt a family on your own, consider adopting a family together with your friends or co-workers to split the expense. It’s a fun way to give gifts to a family that otherwise would go without during the holiday season.
Any easy way to give back without spending any money is by volunteering your time. Local organizations often rely on volunteers, especially this time of year. Cape Cod Volunteers (through the United Way) can match you with a volunteer opportunity on Cape Cod. You could always go to your local library, your child’s elementary school or local non profit to see if you could volunteer in some capacity. To volunteer at a school and some other organizations you may need to fill out a CORI check, but that typically only takes a couple of days to clear.
People can benefit from any type of donation this time of year. Donate to your local food bank so that a family can have a proper holiday meal. Donate your old coats, gloves or hats that you no longer use so that someone has decent outerwear for the cold winter season. Animal shelters will often take donations of old blankets, pet toys and old towels for the animals in their care. It’s easy enough to make a difference for someone who is in need without it impacting you too much. While out grocery shopping, pick up a few additional items that could make a meal for a family. Some grocery stores have notes above certain items that food backs identify as a popular food to give to the pantry. Organize your closet and get rid of the clothes or outerwear that you don’t use anymore. It makes your living space more organized, and it helps a person in need of a warm coat or pair of shoes.
Giving blood is giving the gift of life to someone in need. About 1 in 7 people in the hospital are in need of blood. The blood that is donated on Cape Cod stays on Cape Cod for our neighbors and family members that are in need of blood. One pint of blood has the potential to save the lives of two people, and unfortunately red blood cells only has a shelf life of 42 days, so it constantly needs to be replenished. There are various blood drives around Cape Cod or you can go to, which are listed here. Or you can always call to schedule an appointment to have your blood donated.
Toys for Tots
The Toys for Tots program was started by the United States Marines. The program collects unwrapped, new toys for children of all ages during the holiday season that are distributed to families in need so that the children have a present for Christmas under the tree. The 9th annual Stuff a Bus held in front of the Toys ‘R Us located in the Festival Plaza is another place you can drop off toys for Cape Cod children in need. The Orleans police department challenged other Cape Cod police stations around the Cape to see who could collect the most toys for the Stuff a Bus.
Visit Hospitals and / or Nursing Homes
No one wants to spend their holidays in the hospital or nursing home by themselves, but unfortunately some people have no other choice. Find out the visiting hours for nursing homes and / or hospitals so you can take a stroll through the facility and offer some holiday cheer to those who would have otherwise spent the holiday alone. Some nursing homes have programs where you can “adopt” a resident of their assisted living center.
Remember our Military
Cape Cod Cares for the Troops is a local organization that started over 10 years ago by a 12 year old boy from Harwich that wanted to give back to the men and women in our military. The organization has grown since then, and now is holding a fundraiser and a care package drive for our troops. Donate any goods you have that could be included in a holiday care package for our troops in the red bins at any of these locations. Purchase a wreath, centerpiece or garland from Lynch Creek Farms and 20% of all sales will be donated to Cape Cod Cares for the Troops to put together holiday gift packages to be shipped to them. You could also send holiday cards to troops overseas through the American Red Cross, who has a Holidays for Heroes program.
The smallest act could make a world of difference to someone. Leave a more generous tip than usual when you go out to breakfast. Let the mom with three crying children in line behind you go in front of you in line. It will make her life just that much easier. When you pull up to pay at the Dunkin Donuts drive thru to pick up your coffee, pay for the person behind you in line. It will brighten their day. If you have the funds, anonymously pay off someone’s layaway. All of these deeds are small ways that you can really make someone’s holiday season a little bit brighter.
Giving Back on Cape Cod this Holiday Season
Regardless of your income or amount of time you have to give back this holiday season, there is something that everyone can do to make the season brighter for another person.