At ShoreBread, we are gearing up for the holidays by drafting shopping lists, finalizing recipes, and making plans with family and friends; but what we are also focused on this year is making sure that we give thanks and give back. The unfortunate truth is that the holidays can be a time of stress and struggle for many local families, whether they are trying to put food on the table or have gifts under the tree. Giving back can be as simple or grand as you prefer, and can include donating money, items, or even just your time. Take a moment during the hustle and bustle this season to be grateful for what you do have while paying it forward to those that might not have as much. Give thanks and give back by supporting local charities and events:
Diakonia has been serving the Lower Shore and Worcester County for over 40 years, helping local families and individuals get back on their feet with support and assistance. The local shelter not only houses locals in need, but also provides food and clothing, as well as the resources needed to rebuild their lives. With a year-round need for volunteers and donations, Diakonia is an excellent option to consider this holiday season as you strive to give thanks and give back. A donation as small as $25 can provide shelter, three meals, counseling and support to a homeless person for one day. In-kind donations are another terrific option, including clothes and non-perishables. Contact Diakonia to learn more!
Each year, Worcester County G.O.L.D (Giving Other Lives Dignity) hosts their Helping Hands for the Holidays campaign, which calls upon volunteers to sponsor a child or vulnerable adult for the holiday season. Interested? Simply click here.
In addition, Worcester G.O.L.D assists with clothing, food, and shelter, as well as providing essential healthcare needs and normalizing life for foster children in Worcester County. Monetary donations are always accepted of course, as are new items to supply the Baby Pantry and Adult Care Pantry, school supplies, and gift cards to food, clothing and gifts.
Pay it Forward
Paying it forward is simple and incredibly rewarding. For example, have you ever paid extra when driving through a toll so that the person behind you gets a nice surprise? It seems incredibly simple but it will brighten your day (and the recipients) more than you imagine. Last year during the holiday season, our team took the time to drive around West Ocean City with a few gift cards and a couple envelopes of cash, handing them out at random. The looks on peoples’ faces were priceless. Another terrific option to consider as the holidays get closer is stopping in Walmart or Kmart to put money towards someone’s layaway items. Whether they are standing at the counter or if you just tell the clerks to put x-amount of money towards an account, it’s paying it forward at its finest.
As a non-profit organization, The Red Doors Community Center at St. Paul’s By-The-Sea relies entirely on donations, fundraising, and grants to provide an incredible array of enrichment opportunities for the community. Programs are available for ALL ages and range from dance and yoga to cooking and robotics. Your donations help The Red Doors continue to provide creative, enriching outlets for members of our community. For example, a $25 donation could purchase art supplies for a student to be able to participate in a painting class; $60 could offer a scholarship to a child in need that wants to participate in a program; or $150 could keep a child in the after school program at Red Doors for the entire school year. Learn more at reddoors.org!
Striving to end hunger locally, the Maryland Food Bank – Eastern Shore Branch serves some of our state’s most food-insecure counties, providing food to more than 200 soup kitchens, pantries, and community-based partners. What’s more, the School Pantry Program helps keep children and their families fed throughout the school year. According to their site, more than 47,000 individuals on the Eastern Shore are food insecure, 17,000 or which are children. Last year alone, the MFB –Eastern Shore distributed 4.5 million meals.
How can you help? Lots of ways; for starters by donating your time at any of the branch locations or partner farms. Funds are always needed as well; with every $1 you donate providing three meals to a hungry Marylander. Or donate food – any and all food donated goes directly to those in need.
As the holidays approach, we would be remiss if we did not include our annual soapbox moment where we stress to NOT give a dog or cat as a gift. Yes, it seems great in theory, but caring for a pet is a major commitment that lasts well beyond Christmas morning. Making sure that the intended recipient is ready to be a pet owner is of the utmost importance. Too many dogs or cats that started out as gifts end up in local shelters, which is precisely why the months following the holidays can be such a busy time for shelters.
If you are ready to make the commitment to being a pet owner this holiday season, we suggest adopting from your local shelter. The Worcester County Humane Society has SO many deserving pets waiting for their fur-ever homes. Can’t make the commitment just yet but want to show your love and support? How about volunteering or donating. At WCHS, the no-kill, non-profit organization is always accepting monetary and in-kind donations. Take a look at their full list here.
Looking for a way to give back each week to a local charity while having a little fun? That’s exactly what Burley Oak has in mind with their Monday night charity events. Each Monday throughout the month of December, the Berlin brewery will be hosting a different charity along with a team of guest bartenders. Charity nights aim to raise money for local charities by donating 10 percent of the bar ring from the evening (6pm-midnight) along with half of the bar tips. Expect plenty of auctions and raffles as well to help raise additional funding. First up is on December 1 (a Tuesday for this one) with our friends from Peppers Tavern slated to guest bartend for the United Christmas Spirit Campaign. The rest of the month includes: December 7 – bartenders from Johnny’s Pizza for Toys for Tots; December 14 – bartenders from Pizza Tugos for the Maryland Food Bank; December 21 – bartenders from Sunset Grille for Diakonia; December 28 – staff from AGH for the AGH Penguin Swim.
Let’s not forget about our furry friends this time of year either! Local shelters are always in need of supplies, and not just pet food and toys either. Towels, hand soap, trash bags, band-aids, brooms, bleach, laundry detergent…there are any number of cleaning supplies and items that the local shelters need in order to operate effectively. Pick up a few items during your holiday shopping this year and donate them to your local shelter.