Let’s be real: The holidays are here, but things don’t feel as cheerful as they usually do. Americans who were already facing hardship under the nation’s glaring wealth inequalities are now dealing with a new onslaught of troubles, brought on by the seemingly endless COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re not sure how to help those in need during the holiday season, you can start by donating directly to the people in your community — friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers. However, if you’re still unsure, here’s a list of 10 organizations to donate to for Christmas 2020 to make someone else’s holiday jolly.
According to public health experts, the coronavirus has revealed and exacerbated American wealth disparities. "Because of the pandemic, we’re able to see inequities within our communities that were already present much more clearly now," said Rupali J. Limaye, Ph.D, MPH, MA, the director of Behavioral and Implementation Science at Johns Hopkins University’s International Vaccine Access Center, during a Dec. 3 media event. Since March 2020, over 8 million Americans have fallen below the poverty line, according to an October 2020 study from Columbia University, and as federal protections expire at the end of the year, a wave of evictions threatens to unhouse an estimated 30-40 million people — many of whom belong to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Although everyone deserves love on the holidays, it’s important to place those most in need at the forefront of your donations.
1. Feeding America
Feeding America is an organization dedicated to relieving hunger in the U.S., and partners with over 200 food banks across the nation to put meals on the tables of those in need. However, food banks all over the country are preparing for a nationwide food shortage, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization reports it could face a shortage of up to 10 billion pounds of food between now and June 2021. By donating to this organization, you’d be helping families in need have reliable food source during (and after) the holiday season.
2. The Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES)
For Americans all over the country, gathering together with close friends and family is part of what makes the holidays so special. However, many families aren’t able to see one another during their seasonal celebrations, and not because of the coronavirus pandemic. Each year, the United States deports and detains hundreds of thousands of immigrants on the Southern U.S. border, many of whom are refugee families with children. RAICES provides free and low-cost legal representation for these communities, effectively reuniting, resettling, and empowering our immigrant and refugee neighbors..
3. Toys for Tots
Of course, the holidays aren’t all about presents wrapped in pretty packaging. But for many children, they’re the cherry on top of all the holiday hullaballoo. And let’s face it: gifts really do make seasonal celebrations that much more special. If you’re in the mood to bring a smile to a child’s face, you can donate to Toys for Tots. This organization has been around since 1947, and has been committed to giving toys to kids in need ever since.
4. The Okra Project
Studies have continually shown Black trans communities face disproportionate amounts of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, making them one of America’s most economically vulnerable populations. The Okra Project is dedicated to addressing the needs of food-insecure Black trans communities. Not only do they provide resources and meals to Black trans people in need, they also hire Black trans chefs, representatives, and organizers. Additionally, the Okra Project also partners with several organizations to help Black trans communities receive funding for health care, housing, mental health services, and more.
5. National Alliance to End Homelessness
As of Dec. 17, over half a million people in America are experiencing homelessness, according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers, with the majority of them belonging to Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities. Because of the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 30-40 million more people are in danger of facing eviction and homelessness at the end of 2020. The National Alliance to End Homelessness seeks to address America’s glaring problem, not only by providing housing, resources, and assistance to those in need, but also by taking coordinated steps to change national policies.
6. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)
Because of the novel coronavirus, domestic violence has been on the rise in lockdown, and many families may have to face spending the holidays in unsafe homes. Founded in 1978, NCADV is a nationwide coalition dedicated to standing up for survivors of domestic abuse through legal representation, financial support, public policy change, mobilization, and more. Through their advocacy, which includes domestic abuse education programs and support for legislation to aid survivors, they call out power imbalances in abusive households and directly address conditions that often lead to domestic violence, like privilege, racism, sexism, and classism.
7. The Bail Project
The holidays are as good a time as any to disrupt America’s racist prison industrial complex and support Black lives. According to a 2020 report from Pew Research Center, the rate of incarceration for Black Americans is nearly six times higher than that of white Americans. The Bail Project aims to fight these statistics by providing bail money for low-income individuals, often people of color, who are presumed innocent. Additionally, by donating to the Bail Project, your dollars will do double the work: When a case closes, the organization gets their money back, and is able to recycle those finances twice each year.
8. Coats for Kids Foundation
The holiday season is notoriously chilly, meaning children all over the country are bundling up in coats to enjoy the frosty outdoor festivities. Unfortunately, new and well-fitted winter clothing can be quite expensive, and many children in struggling communities simply don’t have access to much-needed winter wear. The Coats for Kids Foundation helps struggling families by providing children in need with brand-new winter coats, allowing them to feel warm, comfortable, and confident during the cold winter months.
9. World Central Kitchen
World Central Kitchen (WCK) is a nationwide coalition that, as of Dec. 22, has provided over 33 million meals to food-insecure people in more than 400 cities across the country. As traditional safety nets, like food banks, city services, and school feeding programs are struggling to meet needs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, WCK is delivering fresh meals to American workers and families in communities that need support.
10. One Simple Wish
The holiday season can often be a difficult time for children in foster care, and unfortunately, many of these children experience abuse or neglect within the system. One Simple Wish is an organization dedicated to providing love, joy, and hope to children impacted by the foster care system by helping fulfill their wishes during and after the holidays. You can grant a child’s wish here, or find other ways to help out.
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