Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Make the spirit of giving a year-round affair

Mom2MomEd Blog: Get into the spirit of giving in 2017
Thanksgiving is past and Christmas is only 11 days away as I write this. Typically at this time of year, people are asked to donate food, coats, blankets, and other items to those in need. This post is no exception...

Although I am devoted to Mom2MomEd and the work I am doing with McKenzie, I have to tell you that my day job is also a true passion. I work in emergency medicine and at a community-based urban hospital that serves a HUGE homeless population in addition to regular city residents. I see people in need all day, every day at my job.

Many of the homeless that I see have serious mental health and substance abuse issues, but I also see many that are hardworking, stand-up citizens who have run into the worst luck of their lives and are struggling to get upright again.

Regardless of the reasons for their struggles, these are people in need, and sometimes a little bit can go a long way. 

Most are in need of things you and I take for granted every day. Look around you--when was the last time you really thought about how much your toothbrush and toothpaste or a blanket or a clean pair of socks actually impacts your life? For the people served by my hospital these are HUGE.

I want to encourage you to donate a few extra items this month in the spirit of the giving season, but then I want to challenge you further to donate a full grocery bag of food, hygiene products, or other items to the needy EVERY month in 2017. 

Will you join me in this endeavor?

Before I get into specific items, here are a few things to consider when deciding what and where to make your donations:
  • For canned items, those with a pop top (that don't require a can opener) are ideal.
  • When possible avoid glass jars and bottles as they break more easily and can lead to injuries if they break.
  • Ask if your food bank needs grocery bags or boxes (people need something to carry home their items).
  • If you have fruit trees or a vegetable garden, ask if your food bank or pantry can accept produce--some can.
  • If you have a farm or butcher animals, ask if a homeless shelter or food bank can take meat--my uncle just had a cow butchered and was able to donate pretty much all of the meat to a homeless shelter.
  • Give your local food bank money or grocery store cards. They often don't have the funds to cover many of their costs. 
  • Donate foods you would actually want to eat and products you would actually want or need to use--no one wants that can of weird vegetables you bought on a whim 10 years ago and never got around too because it's too odd.

And, here are some specific product donation ideas based on my own experiences with those in need locally, from my experiences teaching and tutoring students in need, and from researching what food banks and shelters have on their wish lists:

canned tuna (in water)
canned chicken (in water or own juices)
canned beans
peanut, nut, sunflower seed butters
canned, jarred, or bagged nuts

soup, stew, chili (my local Dollar Tree often has LOTS of this and often pop-top cans)
canned meats or fish (see protein above)
low sodium canned vegetables
canned fruit (preferably in their own juice and not syrup, but NOT pineapple or anything weird)

canned cranberries or sauce
boxed stuffing mix
canned green beans
canned sweet potatoes or yams

diapers and wipes
diaper rash ointment
canned formula
boxed baby cereal
boxed teething biscuits
jarred baby food
Pediasure and Pedialyte

granola bars
fruit snacks
juice boxes or pouches (100% juice)
shelf-stable milk boxes, incl soy or almond milk alternatives
snack cracker packs
pudding or Jell-O cups
unsweetened applesauce (cinnamon is great, but look for all natural, unsweetened varieties)
boxes of crackers
snack pack/size crackers and chips

salt and pepper
seasonings, spices, seasoning mixes
jars and bottles of mustard, mayo, ketchup, etc
olive or canola oil
low-sugar, whole grain cereals
packaged pasta
pasta sauce
packaged or instant rice
microwavable popcorn
boxed meals that require ONLY water to make
ground coffee and tea

single rolls and larger packages of toilet paper (in package...not just rolls from packages you bought for you own household)
toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss
bar soap
basic shampoo and conditioner
menstrual pads and panty liners (tampons are useful, but pads are more easily changed and can be used for more than just a period)
disposable razors and shaving lotion/cream
chapstick or lip balm

underwear for all members of family
school supplies
small "mess kits" with a basic cooking pot, cup, plate, and utensil set for one person (for example, for a newly homeless person)
sleeping bags
scarves, gloves, and winter hats
dog and cat food
dog poop bags

boxed cake, cookie, brownie, etc mixes

What are YOU committed to doing for those in need in 2017? 

Personally, I have made it my goal to donate:
  • 24 FULL bags of groceries (2 per month)
  • 48 toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes (4 each per month)
  • 48 packages of menstrual pads and liners (4 each per month)
  • 24 books (2 per month)

McKenzie has committed to donating:
  • 12 FULL bags of books and toys (1 per month)
  • 48 self care items (4 per month)
  • Blankets and towels for her local animal shelter
  • Doing good deeds in her neighborhood

But, I hope to add lots of socks, several coats, and many packages of diapers and dog food too. Check back throughout the year to see our donations pile up and share yours as well!

Comment and let us know what YOU will commit to donating or doing for your local community in 2017!
Love this post? Check out these additional articles:

And, while you are in the spirit of giving, get into the gratitude attitude as well! We've created a simple, one sentence gratitude journal, available in three colors, for you to create a simple daily gratitude practice. Just write down one sentence every evening or morning about what you are grateful for that day! Keep it up for a month and then read it over whenever you are feeling down. Get yours in our Etsy shop HERE or click on the image:

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