As the holiday season gets underway, most of us are gearing up for a flurry of parties, festivities and cheer. We purchase gifts, outfits and prepare menus for meals. It is a time for all things cozy and merry. In the midst of all the holiday cheer, we can often lose sight of those in our community in need. The holiday season can also be a time to take a step back, take a deep breath and gain some fresh perspective and give back.
There are many ways to give back to our community during this holiday season. Many nonprofit organizations, too many to count, work year-round to serve people on the Eastside and the greater Seattle area to meet their needs. And they not only need but depend on the help of volunteers as well as donors to keep their organizations running and to continue helping people every day.
When considering getting involved with a charity, there are several factors to consider, from finding an organization that pairs with your passions to determining what kind of time commitment you are able to make and how you can make the most impact. Many organizations offer both one-time and recurring volunteer opportunities, as well as opportunities for families to participate together. If your schedule does not allow for volunteering, a financial contribution can make a huge impact. Nonprofits rely on donors and fundraising to keep their doors open, whether it’s a one-time donation, a recurring gift or a fundraising event.
We’ve highlighted a few organizations that serve a variety of needs in our community and offer a wide range of volunteer and giving opportunities. From working with animals to providing for foster children, we hope you will take advantage of this holiday season to get in touch with one of them and give back by getting involved.
MORELove is a local nonprofit organization founded by Kristine Moreland that began by collecting winter coats for the Union Gospel Mission. The mission is “to connect the community to those in greatest need while teaching love and compassion through all things MORELove,” and they provide transitional services to the people who need them most. There are three ways to volunteer: “Blessed Bags” are bags put together by volunteers that include special notes and are handed out to the homeless; “Event Volunteers” for events that are held three to four times a year; and “Street Outreach,” where volunteers walk the streets of Seattle with the Union Gospel Mission on Tuesdays. @MORELoveProject
The Beyond Project
The Beyond Project launched in the fall of 2015 with two events that served people facing homelessness, domestic violence and sex trafficking, among other challenging life circumstances. More than 400 beauty services were offered by volunteers from the beauty industry. Since that launch, they have partnered with local organizations to bring monthly haircut services to those in need. The mission of The Beyond Project is to mobilize the beauty industry to give them an outlet for volunteerism. Since September 2015, more than 6,000 people have been served with haircuts and other beauty services. The Beyond Project hopes to be the bridge that closes the gap between nonprofits and beauty professionals so more individuals in our community can be served. @TheBeyondProject
Humble Design was founded in 2009 in Detroit and has opened four locations around the country since then, including Seattle. It works to restore dignity to people who have been homeless and create a warm and welcoming home for them. Humble Design has partnered with Mary’s Place to identify people and families who are transitioning out of shelters into permanent housing. An interior designer meets with the family in order to determine their needs, style and likes. The designer returns to the warehouse to curate items for the home, and on Fridays, volunteers participate in “deco days.” They load up and unload the trucks and decorate the home within three hours. Humble Designs serves as a jump-start to a new life and a home to live it in. @HumbleDesignSeattle
Eastside Baby Corner
Eastside Baby Corner was founded in 1990 by Karen Ridlon, a local pediatric nurse practitioner who became concerned about how many babies began life in need. For 50 weeks each year, volunteers and staff collect donations and purchase and distribute children’s and maternity items to families in our community. Eastside Baby Corner serves as a diaper bank, clothing bank and food source for more than 800 children each week. Its passion is to provide the absolute essentials for the most vulnerable children in our area and providing parents the basic items needed to better care for their children. Donations and volunteers keep the organization running. @EastsideBabyCorner | Photos provided by Merrill Images
Pet Partners is a national organization with a location in Bellevue that promotes the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted interventions. Its mission is to improve human health and well-being through the human-animal bond. Pet Partners teams visit with patients in recovery, people with intellectual disabilities, seniors living with Alzheimer’s, students, veterans with PTSD and those approaching end of life. Pet Partners is committed to sharing a meaningful bond with everyone who can benefit from time spent with an animal. While dogs make up 94% of the teams in the Therapy Animal Program, cats, horses, birds, pigs, llamas, rabbits and guinea pigs are also welcome. Pet Partners is always looking for volunteer therapy animal teams to make visits to hospitals and retirement homes, as well as schools. @PetPartners
Bellevue Lifespring was formed originally as the Overlake Service League in 1911 by a group of women in support of neighbors in need. The organization continues its tradition of providing children’s basic needs, allowing them to focus on breaking the cycle of poverty and on their education. Early on, the organization delivered foods baskets, goats for milk and seeds and farm equipment to plant and harvest food. In 1939, the group opened a thrift shop, which is the current Thrift Culture located in Bellevue Square. Bellevue Lifespring’s mission is to foster stability and self-sufficiency for Bellevue’s children and their families through programs that provide food, clothing, education and emergency assistance. @bellevuelifespring
Treehouse was founded in 1988 by a group of social workers who believed that kids in foster care deserve a community committed to their success. The mission is to give foster kids a childhood and a future. They strive to create a world where every child who has experienced foster care has the opportunities and support needed to pursue their dreams and launch successfully into adulthood. Treehouse is our state’s leading organization addressing the academic and other essential supports of more than 7,000 youth in foster care. The Treehouse Store is a place that foster care children and their caregivers can shop for clothing, shoes, school supplies, toys and books, among other items. @TreehouseForKids