Thanksgiving has passed. You survived yet another Black Friday. Holiday shopping is almost done. You are mailing out your holiday greeting cards, longingly daydreaming of your holiday vacation and waiting for the season's first snow to stick.
Amidst dreams of dancing sugar plums, however, are other less fortunate families wishing they could celebrate the holidays as well. There are countless charitable ways to help families in Scarsdale, Westchester and beyond. What better way to spread holiday cheer than by spreading the gift to others in need?
Below are the 10 best places to volunteer your time, services and generosity during the holidays.
- "Save A Life Before New Years" by donating at the New York Blood Center's blood drive at the Scarsdale Library on Dec. 16 from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact (914) 588-0805 or email Libraryblooddrive@gmail.com
- Donate blood at the s in Westchester County's blood drive on Dec. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. at the American Legion Hall.
- The in White Plains is desperate for bell ringers for its kettle locations. The Salvation Army offers social services and specialized programs, including Emergency Disaster situations, homeless programs, soup kitchens, community center programs, homework centers and Christmas assistance. These services are funded by donations made through the Christmas Kettle Campaign. For more information on how you can help, contact Captain Antonio Rosamilia at (914) 949-2908 or Antonio.Rosamilia@use.salvationarmy.org.
- Help with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's annual to collect toys for kids in need, sponsored by County Legislator Jim Maisano. It will take place on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 12 to 3 p.m. at Dudley's Restaurant in New Rochelle. They are in special need of gifts for teenage children, including gift cards or monetary contributions. For more information call 914-813-1402. Additional toy drop-off locations include the Scarsdale Fire Department and the Scarsdale Police Department.
- Volunteer to serve meals at Grace Church Community Center's Soup Kitchen in White Plains. They provide Christmas meals every year to those in need. GCCC also accepts food, money and "in-kind" (plates, cups and napkins) donations. The Junior League of Central Westchester also provides two meals a month to approximately 100 individuals served by the GCCC Soup Kitchen. Contact the Community Center at (914) 949-3098 ext. 100 for details about how you or your organization can help.
- The Scarsdale Teen Center could use your time. Donate and encourage your company to match your contribution. Alternately, donate an item on the STC's wishlist, including furniture, electronic equipment, stage lighting and more. See the full list at the website.
- Help make a young girl's prom dreams come true by donating new or gently worn prom or bridesmaid dresses to Operation PROM. There are many girls who cannot afford prom expenses. Operation PROM helps hundreds of female teens in Westchester who live in shelters, group homes or very low-income households attend their prom at little-to-no cost. Operation PROM also accepts tuxedos, evening bags, jewelry and shawls.
- Donate to the 's gift drive for local children, toddlers to 21-years-old living in foster homes or residential centers. Gift cards are also accepted. You can also sponsor a child by filling a specific request on a child's wish list. Collections boxes open to the public are located in county offices. Contact Barbara Sabater at (914) 995-5545 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- The Hastings-on-Hudson chapter of Family-to-Family (F-to-F) is collecting new unwrapped toys and books for children ages two to 18-years-old. They are also collecting wrapping paper, tape and ribbon for struggling families. Your generosity helps the parents give gifts to their children this holiday season.
- Purchase gifts from the 2010 Holiday Giving catalogue for our troops and families in need. Some popular items include the Military Comfort Kits for wounded soldiers, Full Day of Emergency Shelter for Disaster Victims, Infant Care Kits, Cleanup Kit for Victims of Floods and Hurricanes, Shelter and Food for House Fire Victims and Vaccinate Children. The costs of these gifts start at $20. For more items and to learn more, visit the website.
Although this list features many worthwhile local charitable endeavors, do not let it limit your volunteer options this holiday season. Research other organizations in Westchester that need your help, or get creative and do something on your own to spread holiday cheer. Gather your family and friends and go caroling at a hospital or shelter. Make holiday ornaments with residents at a local retirement home. No matter what you do, the help is appreciated, and giving gifts to the less-fortunate is rewarding and fulfilling.