Photo via The Library of Congress
- Operation Santa is a program run by the United States Postal Service where people can read letters to "Santa" and identify those from children and families in real need. Volunteers can then help those families Christmas wishes come true. You can see what post offices are a part of this program this year here. For safety reasons, the identities of these volunteers is never revealed to the families nor are the families identities revealed to the volunteers. This means you cannot just send a check. However ,the Be an Elf organization takes donations, including checks that they in turn use to answer letters for Operation Santa!
- Toys for Tots is another way to get presents to children in need too, don't forget!
- After being immortalized in the Christmas Classic, Miracle on 34th Street, the Macy's Department store has always been big on the Christmas Season. Their "I Believe Campaign" donates a dollar to the Make a Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa they get
- Other great charities to help this time of year are One Warm Coat which works to get warm coats to those who need them. Similarly, Project Linus gets blankets to traumatized children, terminally ill children, and children in need.
- The holidays can be a time of additional stress and confusion for families of inmates. Consider donating to the Angel Tree, which works to get gifts to families of the incarcerated. You might also donate books to prison libraries to help those behind bars, or even write to prisoners.
- Soldiers enjoy getting letters all year round, but especially at Christmas. Holiday Mail for Heroes, an effort sponsored by the Red Cross, helps get holiday mail to soldiers. If you're looking to do a little more for those overseas, why not consider putting together a care package; donating money to get troops a Christmas Tree; or put wreaths on Veterans' graves?
- There are many elderly who are isolated and lonely during the holidays, and even those with families to help care for them can be experiencing stress ad anxiety over the holidays. Be Santa to a Senior aims to help bring Christmas cheer. Much like Toys for Tots, you can buy a requested item as a present for participants which are hung on trees. You might also consider donating to your local elderly care organizations, hospice organization or Meals On Wheels. Another way to help is to make cards for local nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospitals (though please always check with these institutions to see what is and is not acceptable to give for healthy and safety reasons).
- Clean out your closet and donate- perhaps to Goodwill or other local charities.
- There is always a lot of shopping this time of year, but even this can help others. Shop at stores that are fair trade, that are local, and/or that donate part of their profits to charity. Don't forget, just for using Amazon Smile to search their site, Amazon will donate to a charity of your choice!