The holiday season is well underway and though Giving Tuesday has passed, there are numerous ways to celebrate the season by giving back and bringing cheer to others in need right in our beloved city. Boston offers countless opportunities to get involved and help the homeless, the hungry and those who are ill.
Here are some great ways to get in the spirit of holiday giving, while making Boston a better place to live for the less fortunate this season.
Provide Holiday Meals for Those in Need: More families are struggling to keep up with the cost of living and won’t be able to afford the tradition of a holiday meal this year. The Greater Boston Food Bank, the largest hunger relief food organization in New England, aims to provide 200,000 holiday meals this season. When you give the gift of a meal, every $20 donation provides five nutritious holiday meals to those who are food insecure. You can also offer support by sending a GBFB holiday card or by purchasing one or more decks of City Dining Cards, offering discounts to locally owned restaurants. Be sure to enter the promo code “GBFB” to designate 55% of your purchase to help feed those in need.
Support Rosie’s Place: Rosie’s Place has provided meals, assistance and workshops to low-income and homeless women in Boston since 1974. You can brighten the season for guests by donating needed holiday items, including $25 gift cards (Stop & Shop, Old Navy, Walgreens, Payless, Bed, Bath & Beyond, CVS, etc.), full-size toiletries, bedding, movie passes, make up or beauty products, and sets of scarves, hats and gloves; purchasing gifts from the Rosie’s Place store; ordering customized holiday cards; or making a donation to support the vital programs and services that reach 12,000 Boston women each year.
Delivery Joy with Globe Santa: This program started by the Boston Globe provides books and toys to 6,200 local children in need throughout Greater Boston. Donate here; 100 percent of funds go directly toward the purchase of these holiday gifts.
Give Back With An Outfit Pack: Boston’s Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth to age 12, living in low-income and homeless situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. The Outfit Packs, providing a week’s worth of matched outfits, are part of a package Cradles to Crayons puts together for children that may also include books, toys, shoes, and cold weather essentials like a warm coat, boots, pants, a hat, and gloves. You can purchase an Outfit Pack online or do the shopping yourself with shopping lists provided by Cradles to Crayons, where you’ll also find a discount coupon from Old Navy to be used toward your purchase.
Write a Make-a-Wish Santa Letter: To benefit the Make-A-Wish foundation, Macy’s in Downtown Crossing (and all Macy’s locations) is collecting stamped, addressed letters to Santa’s home in the North Pole, to be dropped off in any Santa Mail Letterbox from now until Christmas Eve. Macy’s will donate $1 for each letter until they reach $1 million to help grant the wishes children with life-threatening medical conditions. More information is at macys.com/believe.
Give Blood at MGH: Now through the new year is the most challenging time to ensure that ample blood supplies are on hospital shelves to meet inevitably increased demand. At the Mass General Hospital Donor Center, all blood donors will be invited to sign gift tags that will be attached to a stuffed animal or toy and delivered in Santa’s bag to a child at Mass General For Children. In appreciation, December donors will be entered in a drawing to win an overnight stay at the Revere Hotel and can also receive passes to an AMC movie theatre. Appointments are recommended. For more information, visit massgeneral.org/blooddonor.
Make an Impact at The Pine Street Inn: Your generosity can make the holidays brighter for homeless men and women. You can help provide shelter and food by making a tribute donation in honor of someone special, organizing a food drive, supporting the Inn’s social enterprises by purchasing an artisan cutting board, sending holiday cards to end homelessness or providing a gift card ($20 increments at retailers such as Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens are suggested) that Pine Street’s guests will unwrap on Christmas eve.
If you’re looking to liven up your philanthropy, several events have been planned across Boston in December with worthy local causes in mind. Consider adding one of these to your calendar:
Eat a Chickpea Fritter for Charity: Clover Food Lab, the groundbreaking fast food phenomenon that started with a much-loved food truck will open its newest brick-and-mortar restaurant this Thursday in Kendall Square. Opening day will be “pay what you want,” with all proceeds donated to Lovin’ Spoonfuls, a Boston-based food rescue organization that facilitates the recovery and distribution of healthy, perishable food to homeless shelters and soup kitchens. I’ve been told Clover’s chickpea fritters, a best-selling staple on their healthful, locally-sourced menu, are positively delish.
December 12, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM (or until food is sold out), 5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge.
Break out your Fanciest Clothes and Go to the SnowBall: Since 1987 Santa Claus Anonymous has been supporting youth programs in Greater Boston through the annual SnowBall. Back for a 26th year, the city’s largest, all-volunteer run black tie event has raised over a million dollars and has contributed to the lives of thousand of children and countless families in Boston. The evening promises a fantastic party to celebrate the holidays – complete with a live band, a silent auction and discounted hotel accommodations – while supporting youth organizations in the process. Tickets are $75 per person.
December 13, 2013, 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM, Sheraton Boston Hotel, 39 Dalton St., Boston.
Play Candy Land at Faneuil Hall: Have fun and do good at the same time during Faneuil Hall’s Annual Candy Land Tournament to benefit Pitching in for Kids. Bring your family, come play Candy Land and sample some of Boston’s best local vendors along with entertainment, arts and crafts, and more! The entry fee is $20 per family or $5 per individual.
December 14, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, upper rotunda of Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
Wear an Ugly Sweater: Join the b Positive Project Apparel Co as they present Boston’s 7th Annual Ugly Sweater Party at the Hard Rock Cafe. Enjoy live music performed by Classic Yellow, drink specials and lots of fun giveaways. There will also be a silent auction with great prizes that will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Tickets to the event are $25 and can be purchased at the door or online.
December 14, 8:00 PM, the Hard Rock Café, 22-24 Clinton Street, Boston.
Attend WBUR’s 11th Annual Reading of “A Christmas Carol”: On December 2, 1867, Charles Dickens began his first American reading tour of “A Christmas Carol” at The Parker House in Boston. Relive history as your favorite WBUR personalities – Tom Ashbrook, Bill Littlefield, Bob Oakes, and Robin Young – give a special reading of this timeless holiday tale of charity and redemption to benefit Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for women in need. Holiday cookies and hot cocoa will be served during intermission. Tickets are $50 per person and can be purchased here.
December 17, 7:00 PM, Omni Parker House Hotel, Rooftop Ballroom, 60 School Street, Boston.
What are your plans and ideas for giving back this season? Let us know how you’ve warmed others in the Comments section.