As the holiday season quickly approaches, many local humanist groups are gearing up to actively give back to their local communities. Throughout the next month, humanist groups are participating in group volunteering events, hosting charitable fundraisers for local non-profits and collecting food items to support their local food banks.
At their holiday party in December, the End of the Line Humanists in Oak Park, Illinois, will collect canned and packaged food, toiletries and funds for the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry. The local group even developed a helpful document of acceptable items for donation.
The Central New York Humanists in Syracuse, New York, have been asking their members to bring non-perishable food items to all of their events from October through December. They are also running a virtual food drive for those who would rather give online. They have already collected seventy-two pounds of food so far! And on December 13, members will meet at their local mall to help run a gift wrapping station. The money collected supports Vera House, a local domestic abuse shelter and advocacy center.
The American University Humanist Community & Chaplaincy are working with the George Mason University Secular Student Alliance this coming weekend to prepare and distribute meals to homeless people in Washington, DC.
Humanists Doing Good in Grand Junction, Colorado, will once again be celebrating the HumanLight holiday by asking their members to bake treats at home. Then all the baked treats will be brought to their HumanLight and Treat Packaging Party. They have teams of volunteers who go out on Christmas day to look for people who are stuck working (hotel staff, snow crews, gas station attendants, taxi drivers, etc.) or who are otherwise away from their families for the holidays and deliver the packaged treats to them. While Christmas Day may not have the same meaning to us as it does to some religious people, members of Humanists Doing Good like to take time out to thank and surprise people who are keeping our society functioning or who are simply not getting to spend their time with their friends and family. Sometimes members donate things like handmade slippers and hats that we also deliver to the homeless.
Another good deed that Humanists Doing Good do every fall around Thanksgiving time is raking leaves for strangers and people who need assistance. They begin by posting flyers in a neighborhood to let people in the area know that they will be coming. The flyers also encourage those who know of people who could use assistance, such as the elderly or disabled, to contact Humanists Doing Good to add them to our priority list for free raking. They select a neighborhood that their city will be vacuuming up leaves from the street on soon and then they have their volunteers enter the neighborhood and rake leaves for free and with no strings attached. This has proven to be a great way for this local group to get out and meet people in their community and it has even led to them to finding future members of their board of directors. People always seem to appreciate the help and their volunteers have a great time raking together for a few hours.
On Christmas Day, Lehigh Valley Humanists (LVH) in Allentown, Pennsylvania, plan to host a Christmas dinner for needy and elderly people in the area. Last year, Giovanni Landi, a member of the Lehigh Valley Humanists, had the wonderful idea to host this dinner, and he cooked over twenty whole turkeys and two dozen hams in his pizzeria’s pizza ovens. Over 300 dinners were served by forty volunteers through delivery or at his restaurant, Pies On Pizzeria. This year, LVH members will help assemble and deliver dinners, serve walk-ins, work in the kitchen and help wherever they are needed. Meals are offered free of charge as a thank you to the community.
The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago’s Sunday School is again sponsoring a Holiday Toy and Gift Card Drive to benefit Between Friends Chicago, a local domestic violence prevention and support group. Their clients are women, often with young children, who are rebuilding their lives after abusive relationships. Members collect new toys for kids and grocery and department store gift cards for the moms. Along with the toys, the group collected about $300 in store cards last year.
Have you or your local humanist group given back to your local community during the holiday season and would like to share it with others? Leave a comment below!