There are so many wonderful things about this time of the year; special treats and opportunities to feast, beautiful sights and sounds, crisp air and the promise of snow, and time to spend with loved ones. Another very special source of joy during this season is the spirit of giving – when we think of the holidays, we often equate them with buying presents for our favorite people.
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However, the holidays also offer the perfect time to think about charitable giving to those in need, and where better to give than within your own community? With your contribution, you can help give a meal to a shelter pet, heat the home of a neighbor, or give the gift of literacy to someone who has been struggling to learn. We’ve rounded up some of our area’s most reputable organizations for your consideration this year.
The Warm Center
The Warm Center is a comprehensive shelter service provider for adults in South County, RI and Southeastern CT, open all day, every day. They have a soup kitchen that serves lunch and dinner to the public every day of the year and provide a children’s summer lunch program, and they also help find their visitors find permanent housing, manage crises, and prepare for employment through job training.
They try each day to fulfill their mission, which is to “provide a continuum of care and service to the homeless and needy by providing affordable housing and assuring supportive services, and to help the homeless and needy build self-esteem and move toward independent and responsible living.”
By donating, you will be helping to provide meals, support critical needs for low income families, maintain emergency shelter, and help a homeless family move one day closer to independence.
The Jonnycake Center
The mission of the Jonnycake Center of Westerly is to provide a continuum of services in cooperation with other agencies in the area to assist people through crisis situations and work with each individual to find a path out of dependency toward self-sufficiency.
Hunger and food insecurity are life-threatening conditions caused by unemployment, underemployment, sickness, disability, and other factors. The Jonnycake Center helps to alleviate this issue by feeding nearly 3000 local people each year. The center also provides job training to help clients find and maintain jobs, and affordable clothing and furnishings through their thrift store to help improve everyone’s quality of life.
Your financial donation goes directly to providing services to those in need, and your donation of food or gently-used, sellable goods such as clothing, furniture, and household items helps the center maintain their overhead so that they may continue to provide these same services.
Monetary donations may be made online or in person, and material donations may be dropped off during hours listed on the website.
Stand Up for Animals
Furry friends spending the holidays in an animal shelter and the people who care for them could certainly use some love and comfort. Most shelters and clinics will have wish-lists on their website with suggested items that they are typically in need of, such as paper towels and cotton balls, but monetary donations and gift cards to nearby pet supply stores are always welcome.
And who knows, perhaps one of those furry friends could become your newest family member someday soon! But remember, please don’t give pets as gifts – they’re a lifetime commitment and the holidays are often too hectic for a new pet to get really acclimated to their environment. Everyone should have the chance to start off on the right foot together – or paw, as the case may be!
By now, we should all know that public libraries are for more than just books. They’re community centers, most of which offer some variety of early childhood learning, teen recreation, adult education, and programs for the elderly. They’re resource centers that help everyone improve their lives, whether by providing tax forms, help with your resume, a quiet place to study, or a chance to meet new friends and learn a knew skill or hobby. And they’re the free alternative to costly cable or streaming services by letting you borrow seasons of your favorite shows for weeks at a time!
They manage to do all of this on a shoestring budget, yet that shoestring is almost always at risk of being shortened or cut entirely. You can help ensure that free programs and materials will continue to be available at your local library by donating money, or your own gently-used books or DVDs when you’re done with them.
The Westerly Library is always accepting donations and gifts; they help to supplement their budget and your donation is an investment in the community which will be used to enhance the library’s collections and services.
The Ashaway Free Library is currently running a Capital Campaign to improve their building by creating an entrance that is fully ADA compliant and adding a community room to give patrons more space to work alone or in groups, to hold lectures, films, and performances, and for the library to host book groups, craft groups, and homework assistance.
Literacy Volunteers of Washington County
Literacy Volunteers of Washington County is an accredited affiliate of ProLiteracy America and assists local adults interested in improving their literacy skills through free programs based on a participant’s individual goals. These programs, offered through tutors or in small groups, include adult basic literacy, English as a second language, citizenship preparation, financial literacy, workforce literacy, and GED or external diploma preparation.
Illiteracy is rarely an obvious affliction, but it is one that may affect many of the over 7000 individuals in Washington County identified in the 2010 Census as never having received a high school diploma. It also affects recent immigrants who are still trying to learn a new language. Your donation will help to strengthen our local workforce and elevate these individuals into a world of literacy.