The first snow has fallen and the decorations are up. The holiday season is in full swing and the Christmas spirit is in the air. Through the hustle and bustle, parties and celebrations, this is the perfect time to count your blessings and consider those not as fortunate.

The gift-giving season doesn't necessarily mean just amongst family and friends. The holiday season is also a perfect time to brighten someone else's day. Considering the ups and downs of the past year in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, many non-profit organizations in our community have felt the pinch of reduced fundraising efforts and donations, and they need our help.

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Supporting local charities, especially at Christmas, is a perfect way to embrace the spirit of the season and truly "gift" someone in a special way. A donation, no matter the amount, will truly make a difference to those in need this year. You may even consider skipping the boxes and bows and donating to a charity in a family member or friend's name, allowing them to be part of the giving season right along with you.

Not sure who to donate to? We've put together a list of local charities that you can support.

Food Bank of Eastern Michigan

A donation of just $1 to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan equals six meals the Food Bank can provide. A donation of $100 feeds a family of four for 50 days. Visit the website for more information and how to donate.

United Way of Genesee County

The United Way was right there to aid the victims and those affected by the recent explosion on Hogarth Avenue and is continually quick to help whenever there is an urgent need. If you would like to support their efforts or donate to a specific campaign you can visit their website. 

Humane Society of Genesee County

The Humane Society of Genesee County is dedicated to helping unwanted animals friend loving caring people to call their own. Caring for these sweet animals, getting them healthy, and keeping them safe can cost quite a bit, and your donations allow them to continue providing love and support all year long. You can donate, provide supplies, sponsor a cage, and more by clicking here. 

Catholic Charities of Genesee County

Catholic Charities Angel Tree program provides an opportunity for individuals, teams, or companies to make the holidays special for one adopted family. Their Center of Hope is also looking for donations of new, unwrapped children’s toys that will be distributed at the Center. They also have an Amazon wish list of items. To learn more about when you can drop off donations, or to make a monetary donation, visit their website here. 

Whaley Children's Center

Although partially state-funded, 20% of the difference is made up of amazing, generous donations. One hundred percent of your gift gives these sweet children the experiences and memories every child deserves. Christmas is an especially important time for these children, and every child deserves a special Christmas.  You can donate by clicking here.

Voices for Children

Voices for Children serves as a "voice" and an advocate for children throughout Genesee and Shiawassee Counties that have suffered the most unthinkable forms of abuse. The Pantry of Love provides new basic essentials to children and families who have experienced trauma. At Voices for Children, more than 2000 families a year receive hope, help, and healing from child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, and child human trafficking. There is a need for new items such as toiletries, clothing, a clean set of sheets, a soft blanket for comfort, and a new pair of shoes and socks. You can get information on donating here. 

Old Newsboys of Flint

The Old Newsboys are a staple to everything that is the Season of Giving in Genesee County. They have brightened Christmas mornings for thousands of needy children for years. You can also help by sponsoring a child in the Christmas Box Program. Every $20 donation will sponsor one child. Each box contains a sweatsuit, socks, and underclothes, a hat and pair of warm gloves, dental hygiene products, and a beautiful, new, age-appropriate gift. You can sponsor a child and get more information by clicking here.

Big Brothers/ Big Sisters

Now more than ever, Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country are stepping up to find innovative ways in serving our communities to keep kids connected. These special Big/Little one-to-one mentoring relationships support the critical social and emotional development needed to help build resilience and promote the mental health and well-being of thousands of children across the country, and right here in Genesee County. If you are looking to donate, or become a Big yourself, click here for more information.

Salvation Army of Genesee County

The red kettles are out and the bells are ringing, but did you know there are other ways to help the Salvation Army this time of year? The Salvation Army is always looking for volunteers and toys to stock their special Toy Shoppe. Click here for details on how you can help.

Carriage Town Ministries

Helping the needy since 1950, Catholic Charities relies on the generous donations of the community. CTM has created an Amazon Wish List where items can be purchased directly from Amazon by clicking here. Items can also be dropped off at 705 Garland St. (behind the Family Center) on Wednesdays 10 am-4 pm.

Clara's Hope

This year, we added one more to the list for good luck. Clara’s Hope, of Genesee and Livingston County, aspires to help families have success in foster care and adoption. Most families have a great desire to help, but lack the resources and community. Clara’s Hope utilizes volunteers and donations as well as in-house social workers, resources and programming dedicated to helping families navigate parenting kids from various backgrounds. With over 800 children in foster care and 325 foster homes in Genesee and Livingston counties combined, the need for support is great. Clara’s Hope is answering that need by working to fill in the gap between agencies and families by making support and resources accessible. Visit their website to donate or find out which items they may need in addition to financial donations.

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