The holiday season can be a really rough time for a lot of people. Most of the country is extremely cold, a lot of people can’t see their families due to the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases (courtesy of the Omicron variant), and there are communities with children who aren’t afforded the same privileges and perks that come along with the typical holiday season.
While holiday shopping can be both exciting and exhausting, there’s nothing quite like giving back to your community or donating to a charity in place of giving gifts. Here are a handful of charities to consider this holiday season.
Citymeals on Wheels
Gael Greene, a longtime New York magazine restaurant critic, was reading the paper just a few days before Thanksgiving and noticed an article describing the plight of frail-aged New Yorkers facing hunger. She was shocked to learn they were not receiving meal deliveries on weekends and holidays. Since 1981, Citymeals on Wheels has provided a continuous lifeline of nourishing meals and vital companionship to our homebound elderly neighbors.
The Okra Project
The Okra Project, a New York-based grassroots mutual aid collective, seeks to address the global crisis faced by Black Trans people. They bring home cooked, healthy, and culturally specific meals and resources to Black Trans people wherever they can reach them. Ianne Fields Stewart, the founder, said the following:
“For Black people, in particular, the kitchen is such a place of family lineage. It’s a place of community. It’s a place of love. Daily life occurs in the kitchen. And so to have that kitchen be filled with someone who looks, loves, and lives like you, is a luxury and a joy.”
Heart of Dinner 愛心餐
In the NYC Asian American community, the elderly are some of the most forgotten and have become the most impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Food accessibility is a human right and during this time, where public health is at such a high risk, it’s become harder and far less accessible for this vulnerable group of people.
Heart of Dinner addresses this issue head-on by combating food insecurity and isolation within NYC’s Asian American elderly community. By delivering hot lunches and produce every Wednesday (accompanied with a handwritten and illustrated letter in their native language), Heart of Dinner aims to restore connection, comfort, and care among the people who should matter the most.
Haircuts 4 Homeless
Haircuts 4 Homeless is a registered charity set up by veteran hairdresser Stewart Roberts. Inspired by the actions of barbers in various parts of the world cutting hair for the homeless, Stewart set out not only to do this himself but to build a whole community of skilled barber volunteers who give their time free of charge to give haircuts for homeless people.
Apex for Youth
Apex for Youth currently serves students from 1st to 12th grade in New York City. Through developing strong relationships with positive role models who volunteer their service, Apex’s goal is for its youth to become Apex volunteers themselves in the future — confident college and career-ready individuals who want to give back to the community.
Asian Americans for Equality
A non-profit organization based in New York City, Asian Americans for Equality was founded in 1974 in Manhattan’s Chinatown to advocate for equal rights. Through community development, AAFE advances racial, social and economic justice for Asian Americans and other systematically disadvantaged communities, guided by their experiences as Asian Americans and commitment to civil rights.
AAFE has transformed in the past four decades to become one of the city’s leading housing, social service and community development organizations.
If you are looking for ways to give back and supplement your own community, we highly recommend looking into mutual aid networks in your state. Mutual aid funds are great options that directly affect those in your community and because they are organized by local change makers, you can rest easy knowing that your money is going directly to the cause and in the best interest of the group you are looking to give back to.