December Donation Drives: Ways to Volunteer in Houston This Christmas
Six Easy Ways Your Entire Family Can Help Give Back This Season
Houstonians are catching more than the common cold this Christmas (though that’s definitely going around). The spirit of giving is in the air. It’s the smell of warm bread at the soup kitchen, donated books at the local library, and clean clothing at the schools.
There are countless ways to get involved in your Houston community if you know where to look. But with overwhelming options in a sprawling, traffic-laden city, it can be hard to find a volunteer activity that’s right for your family.
Here are a few of our favorite holiday drives and giving resources to help narrow down your search this year. These should give you some thought-starters on simple ways you and your family can get involved at a local level this season.
Can-Do Food Drive – City of Pasadena
While the Can-Do Food Drive officially ended in November to meet Thanksgiving food needs, the city of Pasadena is still accepting cans! Because November is not the only time of year families need food, Pasadena coordinates a second New Year drop-off to keep the donations coming.
You can drop off your canned and non-perishable foods at Pasadena City Hall:
1149 Ellsworth Dr.
Pasadena, TX 77506
To make this activity more fun for your kids, turn the most-wanted items list into a scavenger hunt. Ask your kids to be on the lookout for the following foods the next time you’re out grocery shopping.
- Vienna sausages/spam
- Peanut butter
- Cans of fruit
- Macaroni & cheese
- Bottles of juice
Houston Food Bank
Of course, the Houston Food Bank is always accepting food donations and volunteers.
What’s nice about this option is you don’t have to find a sitter for the kids. Children as young as six can come help. With three months of available volunteer shifts to choose from, the Houston Food Bank’s handy events calendar makes it easy to plan your activity in advance.
To sign up for a volunteer shift, register online.
Book Drives & Volunteer Work
Books Between Kids
According to Books Between Kids, more than 90,000 Houston ISD elementary school students qualify for free or reduced lunch. As a result, many of these family households are lacking a home library.
Books Between Kids distributes more than 260,000 books to about 36,000 Houston elementary students. That means thousands of books need counting, sorting, and boxing. In addition to donating new or gently used books, consider setting aside a few hours one Saturday to volunteer. Volunteer shifts are 2.25 hours and children between 5 and 16 are welcome to participate with an adult.
Your Local Library
While Goodwill is a great organization, there are better places to donate your best books. The easiest way to give underserved families free access to your favorite books is by visiting your local library. Almost every library accepts—and even depends—on donations. This is a simple way you can give back any time of the year. More than likely, there’s a public library just minutes from your kid’s school.
Texas Citizens Bank and South Belt-Ellington Leader
Three of our six local banking centers are partnering with South Belt-Ellington Leader to collect toys for tots and teens this holiday.
Past recipients of the South Belt-Ellington’s annual toy drive include single-parent families and families suffering from unemployment or incarceration. What’s encouraging about the program is many past beneficiaries later reciprocate by donating to future drives themselves.
While shopping for teens may seem more daunting, there’s always a big need for teen-appropriate gifts. These include clothing, sporting goods, makeup kits, and gift cards.
To get gifts to families before Christmas, all toys and donations we collect will be picked up this Friday, December 21. If you plan to stop by the bank this week, be sure to bring a toy or gift card. One donated gift represents one more child with something to smile about this Christmas.
To participate, please leave new, unwrapped toys or gift cards in the large donation boxes in our Pasadena, Clear Lake, and NASA lobbies.
Clean Clothes and Detergent Drives
Communities in Schools – Bay Area
Communities in Schools – Bay Area (CISBA) is just nowwrapping up their winter coat drive in order to get clothing to students in time for Christmas break. However, there’s more you can do!
While detergent doesn’t come to mind as quickly as food or clothing in terms of basic needs, it’s something still lacking in many Bay Area households.
Communities in Schools staff members help alleviate this issue by washing some students clothes at the schools. In other cases, they will send Tide pods home with kids so they can wash clothes in their sinks.Laundry detergent is considered a luxury items in many households.
Donating laundry detergent is another service you can provide any time of the year.
To learn more about CISBA’s clothing and detergent donation programs, email Hillary Gramm at firstname.lastname@example.org.