Ask a Teen – How to be charitable this holiday season  

As the temperature decreases, the sweaters and coats emerge from our closets and the hot cocoa replenishes itself on the grocery store shelves, we enter the wonders of the holiday season. This time of year signifies the perfect opportunity to contribute and donate to our beloved community. 

Contributing and donating doesn’t necessarily mean financially. There are many ways to give back to the community, especially for many teenagers who do not have a job this holiday season.

To kick off these holiday service endeavors and opportunities, we have Operation Christmas Child, a volunteer project by the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse. For this holiday project, the organization provides its global partners with shoeboxes packed with hygiene items, toys and trinkets, and stationery and school supplies for children within various communities affected by natural disaster, war, internal conflict, famine and more. From toothbrushes to shirts and shoes to books, these boxes give each child some basic human necessities for this and every winter season. One may donate money through their website, and contributors can precisely assemble online shoeboxes to travel to children who live in difficult-to-reach areas. 

Cash donations are not the sole option, however. Students may provide service for the organization by advocating against the global issue of famine and the lack of personal necessities for children throughout the world through their social media platforms or at their schools. Informing peers, family members and teachers about the significant influence of this organization provides substantial assistance in achieving the organization’s mission of making essential items available for children in need.

Next, we have the Jacksonville-based nonprofit Deck The Chairs. For six weeks during the holiday season, Deck The Chairs hosts a decorated lifeguard chair display promoting arts and art education, as well as preservation of our local beaches, and attracts 20,000 visitors. Each year, DTC distributes profits from the event directly into arts education. The organization collects private donations and in-kind gifts, but they also need volunteers to prep these events. 

Deck The Chairs aspires for zealous volunteers to assist in pursuing its mission of conserving our local beaches and promoting youth art programs. By volunteering their time and skills, students may gain volunteer hours while helping sustain their local beach community. Volunteer positions include serving as ambassadors by welcoming and escorting guests around the event or operating the information booth. Additionally, DTC searches for volunteers to sell merchandise, as well as coffee, cookies and hot chocolate. However, even when the event is all said and done, the need for volunteers does not stop. The nonprofit also seeks specialized volunteers who can take down sign placements, lights in trees and other display builds. 

Last but not least, Toys for Tots, created by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991, collects new unwrapped toys and distributes presents to financially disadvantaged children during the holiday season. Toys for Tots collaborates with local schools, churches and other organizations to host toy drives with members of the community dropping off everything from toy cars and stuffed animals to books and the latest trendy items.

Volunteer opportunities include administration, logistics, promotional support and educating the public about the program. The foundation also accepts monetary donations for supplemental costs.

These are just a few examples of ways to help the community during the holiday season. The act of serving knits us into a tighter and closer community. Whether it’s making financial contributions, donating toys or giving your time and service, each act of kindness can transform one’s entire world.  


About Ariel Rademeyer