Tis the season...to be generous? While philanthropy and volunteering is always much needed in our society, it seems that the time around the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) seems to have special meaning for many and also entices a greater influx of donations and volunteering efforts. There are Christmas trees bearing tags of the names of children who otherwise won’t receive presents, calls from various local organizations for winter gear or money, and canned food drives to help feed those who are hungry. Women’s shelters are also often thought of this time of year, whether it’s because there is a need for coats, hats and mitts, or because many times, there are children staying at the shelters who celebrate these holidays and, of course, also deserve to feel special.
There are also many of us who want to help, but some times don’t really know the best way in which to do so. Should we collect clothing, gifts, food, or money? Or should we just donate our time? The answer might actually be: all of the above. While we’ve already shared our post about what women’s shelters REALLY do need (money or items?), there are numerous ways we can help our local women’s shelters and charities. This goes for the things we can do all year round, not just around the holidays.
So no matter what your abilities, wallet or time looks like, you can bet there is definitely something you can do to help your local women’s shelter. While it’s always good to contact one in your area today to see what they need most, here is a helpful list to get you started.
6 Ways to Help Women’s Charities and Shelters
Volunteer Your Time
Most women’s shelters are always grateful for physical help. It might mean sorting through donated items, serving food or helping with laundry, but whatever it is, there is likely a task (or many) to be done where your shelter would gladly use your helping hand.
Pass on Clothing
Winter can be especially tough for those in women’s shelters as it means more necessary layers. Sweaters, boots, winter coats and other gear can be expensive and hard to come by in good used condition. If you have these items at home in good condition (or the ability to buy new ones), think about passing them on to your local shelter. It’s most likely that they need some for women as well as children, but check in first to confirm.
Most women’s shelters are often (if not always) in need of monetary donations. Shelters are non-profit and normally run on very limited funds. Donating money gives them the ability to stretch resources even further and allocate these funds to the most pressing or necessary issues or items, whether it’s as simple as a better supply of toiletries or saving up for much needed new linens or something even larger.
Again, check in with your local women’s shelter, but there is normally a list of needed items, ranging from everything from toiletries to bed linens. It’s not hard to imagine the amount of toiletries shelters go through: toilet paper, toothpaste & toothbrushes, sanitary products, etc. These can add up and are surely always appreciated.
Share Shelter Information
We know that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. It can affect everyone, from your best friend to your neighbour, to your hairdresser or your doctor. Share your local shelter and emergency numbers widely. You never know who might see this and really need it. Share this page of community resources on your facebook page, print out one of our free visual tools for your workplace or building lobby, and post relevant articles or blog posts on your personal or work social media where you see fit. You may help save a life.
Organize a Donation Drive
Check in with your local shelter to see what it is they need most. Canned goods, clothing, Christmas gifts for children and teenagers, money? Then organize a donation drive amongst co-workers, neighbours, or friends and family. You could host a holiday get-together, asking people to bring items to donate, have a work party and ask attendees to bring donations, or campaign in your neighbourhood to let people know what they can donate. You might be surprised at the generosity of most people who would love to give but aren’t sure where to start. Sometimes it just takes a leader to organize something.
No matter what position you are in, if you would like to help your local women’s shelter, there is always so much that can be done. If you’re not sure where to find your local women’s shelter in Canada, you can use this page to search for the shelter closest to you so you can see what they need most.
Happy National Philanthropy Day, everyone.
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