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Tis the Season for Giving!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I can't believe it's already that time again! That time when every restaurant has at least one peppermint and/or pumpkin spice flavored item on the menu. Christmas decorations are popping up everywhere and TV commercials now have hints of holiday music and beautifully ornamented Christmas trees in their backgrounds. It's the most wonderful time of the yearrrr!  Most of us already have our budgets together and the BEST of us have actually begun shopping for our gifts! But.......amidst ALL the warmth and fuzziness of this festive season, have you ever sat back and tried to imagined your life without it? Have you ever considered the possibility of not being able to afford the things you wanted...or even the basic things you needed? Can you imagine being that parent who can't make things happen for their family this year? Just how devastating would that be???

Well...in 2012, a group of friends and I attempted to answer these questions. As a result, we started a volunteer group called Team Turn Up! Or affectionately nicknamed TTU! (exclamation point mandatory) Our sole purpose was to genuinely, creatively and assiduously give back to our communities...especially during the holiday season! We started by partnering with one of the many organizations that adopt low-income families during Christmas. These families are able to submit their basic needs (and wants) with hopes of being adopted by one of the coordinating organization's volunteers. Not afraid to aim high on our very first endeavor, we adopted 15 full families and were able to help them enjoy the holidays and true spirit of the season. TTU! was so humbled by its success and very excited that this set such an awesome precedent for all of our future endeavors!! Throughout the next few years, we served our community in various ways but due to the different stressors and seasons of life, unfortunately TTU! has recently taken a back seat

I do realize that many people people are looking for ways to give back this holiday season and  simply may not know where to start. I wanted to use my blog to share some resources that I have used in the past to assist you in your quest to do give back!

If you are looking for something especially for Christmas here are two awesome organizations that I have worked with in the past.

Angel Tree is a very popular organization that partners with churches and volunteer groups to provide gifts for children with incarcerated parents. In 2013 my volunteer group worked with Angel Tree to adopt 100 kids! It truly was life changing for everyone involved. We were able to meet the families and the children. The incarcerated parent provides Angel Tree with their kids names and a list of gifts that they like. You can drop the gifts off to the families or have a location where they announce them up. We had a huge Holiday party for all of the families to attend with activities and light snacks. I'll add some pictures below. You can sign up for Angel Tree on their website. This organization is very organized and provides many resources to ensure that volunteers are successful in their endeavors. 

This year Angel Tree even has a virtual program.

Children's Home and Aid provides gifts for children that are currently in the foster care system. In 2012 we adopted 15 families from Children's Home & Aid. They provided us with a list of wants and needs from the entire family, this included anything from pita and pans for the parents to toys for the children. We hosted a wrapping party for everyone who agreed to assist us which was lots of fun. The wrapped gifts must be labeled and brought to the Children's Home & Aid offices. 

Helpful Websites

Here are four of my favorite Websites that provides volunteer opportunities. They are extremely helpful and provide opportunities all year round. If you are looking for something for yourself, your family, or even a group of friends, these sites are very helpful for all of the above. You can edit your search to ensure that only results you need come up. 

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