Attention caring consumers: This holiday season you can give gifts that will appease the person who has everything, cover your entire holiday shopping list, and, as an added bonus, help your fellow man.
Instead of spending a small fortune on material goods, give in an unconventional and rewarding manner to organizations by making a monetary donation in honor of your family and friends or volunteering your time.
Starting locally, there is a plethora of non-profit and charity establishments that passionately serve those in need.
The Food Bank for Larimer County is a non-profit that provides free food to low-income people who are in danger of going hungry. According to Heather Buoniconti, the development director of the Food Bank, monetary and food donations are especially needed during the holiday season, as well as volunteering.
“If you give monetary donations, we can leverage it more,” Buoniconti said. “One dollar donated translates into four meals for a family.”
Food donations of holiday staples, such as frozen turkeys and canned goods, are also in high demand. Donations will be collected through Dec. 18 at the Food Bank’s warehouse at 1301 Blue Spruce Dr. in Fort Collins, and the establishment is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Volunteering is another vital component of the Food Bank and it is flexible in the variety of ways that people can help, from serving at special events to sorting food.
“We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” Buoniconti said. “We’re really grateful for the help they’ve provided and are always happy to have them.”
Another local non-profit that would benefit from the gift of your time is the Open Door Mission, located at 316 Jefferson St. in Fort Collins. A homeless shelter that has housed and fed the destitute for 20 years, the shelter runs with the support of the many volunteers who serve meals in its kitchen and help maintain the facility.
And for those of you who will travel outside of Fort Collins or feel compelled to support people across the globe, organizations such as Operation Christmas Child or Heifer International provide the perfect opportunity.
A project of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Christmas Child provides needy children around the world with some holiday cheer in the form of gift-filled shoeboxes sent from donors. For instructions on how to pack and send joy in a shoebox to a child, go to www.samaritanspurse.org.
If you like animals, visiting the Heifer International site at www.heifer.org will be the highlight of your week. You can help an impoverished family by buying animals, such as goats, sheep, chicks and, of course, heifers that will provide food and a living for that family. If you do not have the means to take on the $150 price tag of a llama, you can also share in buying an animal in increments of $10 to $20. Not to mention the animals are really cute.
Finally there are also literal rewards for devoting your time to the betterment of humanity. Starting Jan. 1, check out Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” volunteering initiative, which bestows one free admission to either Disneyland or Disneyworld theme parks in exchange for one day of service with a participating organization. Type in “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” in your search engine and enjoy the benefits of a serving heart.
Aliese Willard is a reporter for College Avenue magazine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.