The holiday season is right around the corner, and with it comes the hustle and bustle one would expect as we end another year. Most of us are already thinking about how busy the coming months are going to be. Between parties, purchasing gifts, and making the conscious effort to slow down and enjoy the season, it is difficult to think of how one could find time to serve our community. The good news is, however, there are countless ways to serve the members of our community in need this holiday season! One way is by donating time, finances, or our resources to the food banks and pantries in our community. It is such a gift to be able to give, especially in a time of year that seems to focus so much on what one can get.
This time of year is huge for the food pantries and food banks in our area. It is one of the most popular times of year for donations of nonperishable food items to be donated, and as items are donated, there is often a need for help with sorting the items, stocking shelves, and helping those in need “shop,” or putting together care packages for them to take home with them.
One thing to remember when deciding how you will give this season, is that many food banks and pantries that are accepting donations have lists of things they need. While all donations are helpful and welcomed, it is best for the organizations distributing food and other goods to have their needs met. For instance, some organizations might have all of the food items they need, but they are really in need of some other goods to be distributed such as toilet paper, diapers, toiletries, and laundry detergent. Other organizations could be so overwhelmed with donations that they really need someone to come in and organize the donations. That could look like unpacking boxes of donations, throwing away expired food, or creating boxes for those in need to take home with them.
When making donations of nonperishable food items, remember that the recipients of the food like the same food you do! It is common for people to clean out the pantry in their home for donations, and while that is not altogether wrong, think about what you would like to have as an option for Thanksgiving dinner this year and maybe provide that item as a donation instead. If the expiration date on an item is approaching, consider not donating it as the organization will not be able to give it to anyone. Are you a couponer? Perhaps you could treat this as a challenge! Use your couponing skills to find items that you could donate.
A final thing to remember when making donations is that if food is donated and not in its original packaging, it will be thrown away. It is common for small bags of cookies or crackers to be donated in plastic baggies, but the organization can not distribute any food that is out of its original packaging. It’s only a precaution, but they are considering the safety of those receiving the food.
Here are a few food pantries you could serve in our community: