We are living in celebratory limbo. T-minus three weeks until the turkeys are gone and it’s all things merry and mistletoe. In the meantime, we are discombobulated when it comes to decking our halls. 

Spend any amount of time on Instagram and you’ll be convinced you are already way below the holiday-decorating curve. Do we follow the social media trend of committing to Christmas as soon as the clock strikes midnight on Halloween, or should we camp out with hay bales and corn husks until November’s end?

 I have always been a staunch proponent of giving Thanksgiving its due, but the shorter Christmas season and never-ending holiday movies on the Hallmark Channel has me itching to unleash the evergreen and start walking in a winter wonderland.

While my adornment dilemma has me divided, we haven’t lost sight of what this month is truly about — thankfulness. And for our genetic gang, there is no better way of showing our grateful side than to find ways to give back to those around us. Philanthropy is a family affair best taught by example — we even include random acts of kindness on our kiddos’ daily to-dos — and this time of year has us searching for new and fun ways to volunteer. Consider these local do-good organizations if you are seeking a spot for your family to lend a helping hand this holiday season.

 

ANGELS AMONGST US

Bolstered by the hopes of improving foster care in Oklahoma, Angels Foster Family Network was founded in 2008 and provides foster child placement, and recruits, trains, and supports foster parents in the community with office locations in Edmond and Norman. Resources include trauma training, attachment support, initial necessities and supplies, and other means to ensure successful foster parenting scenarios for children in need of a secure home environment. 

Volunteers of all ages are welcome at Angels with the youngest working alongside adult volunteers. Tasks include everything from babysitting and hospital helpers, to donation organization and helping with special events throughout the year, including the Christmas party on Dec. 12. “We can tailor the volunteer experience to anyone interested in helping,” said Carla Dobbs, assistant director of Angels. The organization’s holiday gift sponsorship program gives families the opportunity to claim a wish list and shop for Christmas gifts or to sponsor a toy, clothing, or diaper drive — all easy ways for younger family members to be active givers. (Lists available now and all gifts are due by Dec. 5.) More details are available at angelsfosterokc.org or call 405-285-6193.

 

GET KICKS AT PROJECT 66

Founded in 2010 and named for its original location off Route 66 in Arcadia, Project 66 is a food and resource center serving Edmond, Arcadia, Jones and Luther. Fighting hunger is the main goal of the nonprofit that distributes food to undernourished community members, including the elderly, children, the disabled, and families in economic distress. The organization also provides resources for learning English, community clinics, and rent and utility assistance. 

After completing an application, volunteers 14 and older can help out with a variety of Project 66 tasks, including greeting clients, assisting clients with shopping at the facility’s pantry, bagging and loading groceries, or warehouse work like stocking, organizing, and sorting incoming food donated from area grocery stores and individuals. Younger children can be a part of a group service time on a limited basis and help sort food. 

“One of the best service projects they can do as a group or family is a food drive,” said Kim Shirley with Project 66. Sign up online at project66.org or call 405-341-1353.

 

GIVING HOPE

A long-established Edmond resource, the HOPE Center has been meeting the needs of the Edmond community since 1984 through social services including food, clothing, and financial assistance. More than 180 volunteers keep the organization running each week and children—age 12 with a parent or guardian; 15 and older without—can help out with many of the integral tasks like receiving food pantry donations, stocking pantry shelves, accepting and sorting incoming donations, assisting clients, and in the resale store HOPEfully Yours (908 North Broadway, Edmond). Kids of all ages can give by sponsoring a family for the HOPE Center’s yearly Christmas sponsorship drive. Last year, 346 families were adopted through the program that provides toys, clothing, food, and gift cards to area families in need. Details on volunteering and family holiday sponsorship can be found on the HOPE Center website at hopecenterofedmond.com or 405-341-6849.

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