Between the holiday party frenzy and the nonstop Christmas shopping, it feels good to give back during the holiday season. You don't have to donate money in order to help; there are organizations that are willing to take new items, homemade ones, and just about every one of your no-longer-used objects lying around the house. With locations around the country, these charities work hard to help those in need not only at Christmas, but all year round.
Starting in October, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects toys around the country to give as Christmas gifts to children in need. Bring new, unwrapped, or your homemade kids' toys to a donation center.
This Christmas, spread the gift of warmth all over the country. Starting November 1, you can give new, gently used, or homemade coats to those in need by donating outerwear to the The Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive, sponsored by "Good Morning America," Burlington Coat Factory, and the non-profit organization One Warm Coat.
American Red Cross's Holiday Mail for Heroes program allows you to send a thoughtful holiday card to American service members, veterans, and their families.
Give a holiday gift that makes a difference. By simply filling a shoe box with handmade or purchased gifts, you can give less fortunate children a personalized Christmas present through Samaritan's Purse's Operation Christmas Child program. The organization, which donated gifts to 8.2 million kids around the country last year, will be collecting shoe boxes the week of November 15-22.
You can also spread holiday cheer to kids in your community through local organizations. New York Cares's Winter Wishes program aims to fulfill the wishes of kids and families in need. Last year the organization granted 33,000 wishes to people living in homeless shelters throughout New York City.
By donating old or unused cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers this holiday, you can help increase the amount of communication provided to U.S. troops. Donated phones are given to ReCellular, a company that recycles them. Cell Phones for Soldiers then uses the money to buy prepaid calling cards for our troops. They have raised almost $2 million and distributed over 500,000 prepaid calling cards since 2008.
Give hope to parentless teens throughout the country during winter's coldest months. Knitters can donate a homemade scarf to the Orphan Foundation of America's Red Scarf Project to give foster teens in college a way to stay warm through the winter. Scarf donations are accepted from September 1 to December 15 and will be delivered on Valentine's Day.
With over 200 food banks across the country, you can easily donate food to Feeding America, an organization that gives 2 billion pounds of food to hungry Americans. From canned fruits and vegetables to coffee and tea, you can help by giving a variety of non-perishable items to your local food bank.
Set aside clothes that your family has outgrown so you can give them to those less fortunate this holiday season. Goodwill locations across the country accept new, homemade, or gently used clothing; just make sure they've been washed or dry-cleaned.
You can also donate clothing to veterans and active military members this season through the Purple Heart Clothing Donation program, which will pick up your donations right at your door. Schedule a Pick-Up
Local charities may be collecting clothes for those in need in your community too. Women in Need provides clothes, including used career clothing, to women living in homeless shelters in New York City.
Give a gift to kids battling life-threatening illnesses in hospitals this holiday season. By giving your unused or new computers, MP3 players, and gaming devices to the Make a Wish Foundation you can help spread hope and Christmas joy.
Some Goodwill locations also accept a variety of unwanted electronics, from computers and printers to X-box consoles and televisions.
Donate your car, truck, van, boat, or trailer to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, an organization that provides over 1 million meals to seniors in need across the country each day.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Cars for Kids' Sake raises funds through the donation of unwanted vehicles -- even if they don't start -- to help kids in your community. They accept all types of vehicles, from SUVs to farm equipment, and offer an IRS tax deduction.
You can also donate your vehicle to Purple Heart Foundation to assist disabled and wounded veterans. They offer a free pick-up and an IRS tax deduction.
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