During the stress of finals, frenzy of gift shopping and craze of holiday festivities, it can be easy to forget about those in the community that need support to have a happy holiday.
As a college student, you may feel like you don’t have the time or money to give back during the holidays. But there are many ways you can easily help others in need around D.C. without coughing up your hard-earned cash.
The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program
Every year during the holidays, The Salvation Army sponsors The Angel Tree Program, one of the largest in-kind corporate giving programs in the District. Salvation Army collects gifts for children living in D.C. who will not receive holiday gifts because their families are experiencing poverty. Even though it is too late to donate a gift to this charity, volunteers are needed to help sort the gifts that have been donated and distribute them to families from Dec. 18 through Dec. 21. Volunteers are needed now through Dec. 21, and can sign up online for three-hour time slots.
Capital Area Food Bank
Capital Area Food Bank is working with multiple grocers throughout D.C. this holiday season to raise funds and collect food donations for those in need.
Through the end of 2018, Harris Teeter at 1631 Kalorama Road NW Suite 100 and 1201 First St. NE allows customers to round up their purchase price to the nearest dollar to support the Capital Area Food Bank. You may also purchase a specified item to contribute to the store food drive.
If Safeway’s locations at 4865 MacArthur Blvd. NW and 1885 Wisconsin Ave. NW are closer to you, you can donate $1, $3 or $5 to their Holiday Bucks Campaign at the register until the end of December and all proceeds will go toward helping food insecure members of the community.
You can also visit Giant Food stores across the District to donate non-perishable food items at collection bins at the front of the store. Capital Area Food Bank collects the donations frequently from the locations at 1345 Park Road NW or 1400 Seventh St. NW and distributes them throughout the community.
Bridges to Independence
This private, nonprofit organization has been working to help bring individuals and families out of homelessness since 1985. It strives to strengthen families experiencing homelessness by providing financial security, stability, skills and community networks to become independent.
Bridges to Independence wants to help people experiencing homelessness feel the holiday spirit and create a “brighter holiday for all.” Through the end of December, you can participate in its Holiday Helpers Program by sponsoring a family or individual. Sponsor a family online and commit to providing a gift card to a D.C.-area store for a suggested value of $50 to $75 per person. With your donation, these families will be able to buy holiday gifts for their children.
D.C. Jewish Community Center
If you are looking to volunteer in D.C. on Christmas Day, you can join the Edlavitch D.C. Jewish Community Center from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a citywide day of service. This event draws more than 1,000 volunteers and reaches all areas of the District. Volunteers prepare and serve meals to those in need, visit senior citizens, sing carols and spread holiday cheer.
The Hyatt Regency hotel, at 400 New Jersey Ave. NW, will serve as the center for all these activities due to renovation at the D.C. Jewish Community Center. At the hotel, there will also be a blood drive, and volunteers will make instant meal kits and create cards for emergency personnel working on Christmas Day. Registration and check-in will also take place at the Hyatt Regency.
Humane Rescue Alliance D.C.
If you have a furry family member visiting town, you can get a festive photograph with them this holiday season and support the Humane Rescue Alliance D.C. at the same time. The organization is offering holiday-themed photography for you and your pet Dec. 15 at local bar Wet Dog Tavern. For a donation of $20, you can get a printed photo in a magnet frame and a digital copy, with more festive pet stations at the watering hole on 2100 Vermont Ave. NW. There are many animals looking for a home this year, so if you are looking to add to your family, they will also have a mobile adoption vehicle on site.