Kate Atwood

By Kate Atwood

November and December are the months when people are looking to extend the joy of giving to those most in need.This month, I’m encouraging those who are already giving back to keep doing what you are doing, and for those looking for a good time to start, this is it. Not just because of the holidays, but because this year nonprofit organizations and charitable programs need your help more than ever.

Most Atlanta nonprofits throughout 2009 have seen an increase in demand for their services amid a decrease in funding support needed to deliver those services. This is certainly the case for Atlanta-based Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless. Thus far in 2009, HFTH has seen an astounding 35 percent drop in financial donations up against a 45 percent increase in calls for assistance to continue providing critical human services throughout our community and around the world.

Furthermore, the holiday season brings about a heightened need for help as nonprofits gear up to offer extra support to those in need. Here are 10 ways to make your holidays a charitable experience:

•Help the homeless enjoy Thanksgiving
Since its inception 40 years ago, Hosea Feed the Hungry has distributed more than 3 billion tons of food to the homeless. You can enjoy being a part of one of its most- celebrated events all year by volunteering at its annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Turner Field. To volunteer or donate, call (404) 755-3353 or visit online at HoseaFeedTheHungry.com.

•Donate a toy to a child in need

Atlanta’s Marine Corps personnel need toys and volunteers to ensure another successful Toys for Tots campaign.  For information on donations and volunteering visit online at atlantatoysfortots.com.

•Make your corporate gifts charitable

In lieu of the flavored popcorn tin, give a gift to clients and colleagues in the form of a donation to a special cause.  Send cards to your clients notifying them of the gift that was made in his or her name, along with information on the cause it supported.

•Volunteer with the Atlanta Red Cross

With the recent floods hitting our neighbors, we are reminded that all of us are vulnerable to such disasters. The Atlanta Red Cross is doing great work to assist these individuals and families restore their homes and lives in time for the holidays. They are in need of volunteers and donations. You can contact the organization at (404) 607-1207 or atlantaredcross.org.

Attend the Children’s Christmas Parade benefiting  Children’s Healthcare

This is a great event for a family. You can line the route or purchase bleacher seats for VIP viewing for $12. The parade is Saturday, Dec. 5, in Downtown Atlanta and kicks off at 10:30 a.m. To learn more about the event visit, CHOA at choa.org.

•Adopt a pet from the Humane Society

Puppies and pets are a common wish-list item around the holidays.  Check out the Atlanta Humane Society to provide a good home to an animal in need. Atlanta’s Humane Society is located at 981 Howell Mill Rd. NW. Visit it online at atlantahumane.org.

tzedakah box•Celebrate Hanukkah with a tzedakah box

Devote at least one of the eight ceremonial nights to giving back by placing money into the family’s tzedakah box for the charity of your choice.  Enjoy the family time of decorating your box and teaching little ones the importance of charity.

•Plant a tree in honor of a special person

Have an eco-focused friend or family member on your list?  You can dedicate a tree in his or her name at Trees Atlanta, a nonprofit organization that exists to protect and improve our urban environment by planting and conserving trees.  For $25, Trees Atlanta will plant a tree in honor or memory of someone you care about. Visit them online at treesatlanta.org for more information.

•Support U.S. soldiers

Thousands of troops will be away from home during the holidays. Can you imagine how big a gift it is to them to be able to call home?  Organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers make it easy for you to do this. They take donated cell phones and sell the phones to recyclers, then use the proceeds to buy calling cards for the troops. To learn more, visit them online at cellphonesforsoldiers.com.

•Support a good cause with friends

Check out your favorite charity’s Web site for holiday events and parties. Nonprofit organizations often use this time to encourage supporters to help raise awareness and funds through creative, fun events.  I personally suggest grabbing your friends and joining me at the second annual Kate’s Club Bowl-a-thon at Midtown Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 3. You can register a team or just come and enjoy the festivities.  All proceeds go to empower children and teens facing life after the death of a parent or sibling. Call Kate’s Club at (404) 347-7619 or visit katesclub.org for more information.

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Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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