Making a Difference this Holiday Season

Jacqueline Lovci

Amidst all of the rush for presents and the struggle to make holiday memories that will last, we find ourselves lacking the time and energy to think beyond ourselves. Interestingly a new study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that giving back during the holiday season helps improve your sense of competence and efficiency which makes time seem slower for your brain. So if you feel as though you’re running out of time under this stress of the holiday season, try giving back. Of course, helping yourself is great but there are other benefits to volunteering. Below are 5 easy ways to make a difference this holiday season.


Adopt a U.S. Soldier: 

Adopt a U.S. Soldier is a non-profit that connects our troops to people at home. Through this organization, you write a postcard or letter to your assigned soldier about once a week. This is, as their homepage says, “like a hug from home.” This is a great way to impact one person in particular on a more personal level. Lots of organizations, connect you generally but through Adopt a U.S. Soldier you can get connected to the cause directly. Registering is super easy and the program is free. 


The West Side Campaign against Hunger

The West Side Campaign against hunger is located at 263 west 86th street. It partners with nearby bakeries and donors to run a supermarket-style food pantry. Through this great cause, you can donate in two ways: Your time and your resources. When you donate your time you help organize donated food and restock shelves in their pantry. Free classes are offered for customers and so you might even get a taste of the cooking classes chili (which, by the way, is incredible.) When you donate your resources you can donate canned goods or your money. When you donate your money online it tells you exactly what your donation can help buy, even small donations of $25 dollars can purchase a case of fresh fruit for people who might not have access to it. 


 The New York annual coat drive

The New York Annual Coat drive runs from November 13 to December 31. If you have extra coats that don’t fit you anymore this is a great cause for you. Rather than throwing out your coat, you can help make someone’s winter a little warmer with your donation. The best part about this is that it’s super convenient. NYPD precincts all over the city accept donations 24 hours a day.  One way to make a bigger impact is to start a donation bin at your school or in another public place. You can also drop off your donations directly at the New York Cares Coat Drive warehouse. The warehouse is located at 157 West 31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan. It is open Monday to Friday from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Before arriving, call ahead so that a staff member can meet you with more information on this wonderful cause. 


NYC Materials for the Arts

NYC Materials for the Arts is an awesome way for schools and other artistic nonprofits to get art supplies that are often expensive. You can donate money or supplies to help bring the arts alive in our culturally rich city. You can donate money on their website, and donate supplies in person at their warehouse or via mail. They also offer classes on the arts in their warehouse. For more information, you can visit their website. In addition to this, your contributions help save lots of art materials from landfills. Just last year through donations they were able to offset CO2 emissions equivalent to 553,500 trees. 


The NYC Department for the aging

 This organization partners with volunteers to help improve the lives of the elderly in New York. Through their resource center participants can choose to help with everything from blood pressure monitoring to fitness classes. There are sites in all 5 of the boroughs and you can also visit or use your unique talents to help brighten someone’s day. Even things you might not consider talents, like doing administrative work or working in the kitchen, can help improve the lives of the elderly in our city. 


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