Giving Good, Giving Back

GIVEimageThe holidays seem to get more and more hectic every year, but if we take a moment to reflect, we can remember what this season is really about and flip the script on the hustle, bustle and self-centered pursuits we find ourselves bogged down with.

By looking out instead of inward, we see the needs all around us, and by taking action to support someone less fortunate (at any time but especially this time of year), we create a healthier, more connected community and often, find we’re just as uplifted as those we seek to help.

To make it easier than ever to reach out and give back, we’ve put together a quick list of River Region-area organizations and programs that will assist you in assisting others.

Hands On River Region, Christmas Clearinghouse

So many families right here in our area suffer silently during the holidays, struggling to provide the basics for their loved ones, much less decorate, feast or exchange presents. But thanks to the Christmas Clearinghouse — the River Region’s largest charitable Christmas giving program — you can give these families hope by showing them some love. Hands On River Region partners with more than 40 social service and faith-based organizations to find needy local families and match them with generous individuals or groups who want to brighten their Christmas.  Approximately 10,000 individuals in the River Region — including more than 8,000 children — are registered annually with the Christmas Clearinghouse and helping them is simple. Contact the program, and they’ll give you a family to “adopt” along with a wish list of gifts and essentials that you can buy for your family. You can either deliver the items to the family yourself, or let Christmas Clearinghouse do it for you. You can also choose to make a monetary donation or contribute household items for Care Baskets to be given to registered families.

Salvation Army Red Kettle

Some of the most iconic and enduring symbols of Christmas for many are the Salvation Army’s red donation kettle and the friendly folks ringing a bell to remind you to slip some money into the kettle’s slot. Dropping some spare change or better yet, a few bills, in that red metal vessel is one of the easiest ways to be a part of something good this season. And you can rest easy, knowing your money is used effectively and efficiently to help local individuals and families, since the Salvation Army is one of the most trusted charities around. If you want to take things a step farther, and teach your kids the true spirit of the season, sign up to be bell ringers as family. Click the “volunteer” page on the Salvation Army’s website to sign up for this and other volunteer opportunities.

AIM Storybook Program

Aid to Inmate Mothers is a truly special outreach program that works with women in prison in our state. It encourages and provides resources for personal growth but also works to strengthen the relationships between incarcerated mothers and their children. AIM’s Storybook program is one of the ways it accomplishes its mission. While imprisoned moms can’t be around to read books to their children, through this program, in a way, they can. Volunteers go to prisons one Saturday a month and help the mothers prepare a DVD recording of them reading a book to send to their children. The children’s books read are donated by local churches, businesses, organizations and individuals. You can support this program by donating books, giving funds for recording equipment or volunteering to record the stories.

Joy to Life Foundation

You can be a part of the great — and live-saving work — that the Joy to Life Foundation does by donating any time of year, but as you think about others during this season, consider making a financial gift to the Foundation in honor or memory of someone who’s struggled with breast cancer. The funds raised by JTL go directly to pay for mammograms for medically underserved women throughout Alabama as well as to efforts to promote breast cancer awareness.