The economy has thrown volunteer organizations a harsh blow this year, and as Christmas barrels ahead, many organizations are at a loss, noticing that not only are they behind their projected quota, but their donations are less than last year. Red Cross, Salvation Army, Meals on Wheels, and Toys for Tots are just a few programs fighting to make Christmas seem a holiday for everyone, and their spirit and determination rages as holiday fervor pulsates across the nation, bringing people together and giving hope to thousands who had long felt forgotten.
Red Cross has formed a partnership with Pitney Bowes called Holiday Mail for Heroes. Their yearly goal is to send one million Christmas Cards to veterans, American service members, and families of our dedicated soldiers worldwide. Whether a card of laughter, inspiration, or thanks, Red Cross has taken it upon themselves to remind men and women willing to serve this country that their service is greatly appreciated. After all, you may not be able to find turkey and dressing in Zimbabwe, but a Christmas card could bring a smile and a taste of home to a soldier unable to enjoy Christmas with their loved ones.
On Saturday, December 8, First Lady Laura Bush worked at the American Red Cross national headquarters in Washington, D.C. signing and sorting holiday cards. She said there was something sweet about the “fellowship” and the knowledge that the cards she signed were on the way toward “wounded warriors, men and women in uniform, military families, and veterans.” But, she wasn’t alone in the signing. No, soldiers may get a surprise this Christmas from Murray Martin, President and CEO of Pitney Bowes; Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, American Red Cross Chairman, and Gail McGovern, American Red Cross President and CEO. If you want to join in the fun, visit http://www.groupcard.com/c/TeqOvxYOleS to sign Red Cross’ e-card or add to their page on facebook.
Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) has taken it upon themselves to provide meals to elderly men and women in need. Stretching across the United States, MOWAA is the largest organization in America willing to offer such help, and senior citizens are struggling now more than ever. Many have no health insurance, little education, and no financial padding, and with people living longer and the economy spiraling downward, many elderly have gone back to work attempting to scrape by.
Sadly, state funding for many Meals on Wheels services have lapsed and thousands across the globe have closed, leaving many seniors hungry and out in the cold. Make this Christmas one to remember, whether you donate your time through volunteerism or money by donation, Meals on Wheels needs your help. Named one of the top accredited charities of 2009 by Better Business Bureau, Meals on Wheels Association of America not only feeds the hungry, it changes lives.
Toys for Tots, a program sponsored by the Marines that distributes Christmas toys to children in need, is leaving our soldiers a bit downhearted this year as it heads toward the finish line thousands of toys behind their goal. Bill Grein, Toys for Tots vice president, says this is one of the toughest years he has ever worked, and in cities like Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, and especially Washington their program truly aches for donations. Last year, 16.6 million toys and books were donated through Toys for Tots, but with demand up and donations down, thousands of Christmas wishes will go unanswered if people don’t take the time to care.
This Christmas find a way to reach out. Whether by working in a soup kitchen, donating blankets and books to your local church, or simply dropping money into your dedicated Salvation Army bell ringer, Christmas is upon us. Don’t let it pass you by without making a difference. Experience the true joy of Christmas, change a life.