“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” What a charming sentiment, and for most of us, it rings true. However, the holiday season is full of sadness, poor health, disappointment, poverty, and hunger for too many people. You never know who may be struggling in your community. Donating to the many organizations that support those in need is essential this time of year. Who you chose to support with your charitable contribution is the question.
In the past six weeks, my mailbox has been full of hundreds of requests for donations from various charities and nonprofit organizations. Every one of the organizations does terrific things for people in need, They provide food, shelter, clothing, warm coats and shoes, and gifts for children and aging adults to open on Christmas. Every request comes with a compelling story that pulls at the heartstrings and would benefit from any donation.
How do You Choose Who to Support?
For years I sent $10 to every organization until I decided to rethink my charitable contributions. Specifically, whether they resonated with my values. As a health and wellness expert, the organizations that resonate with me must provide food, nourishment and promote health and healing. In some ways, all of the organizations fit into one of those categories.
I decided to support the needs of the people in my community and one international organization. I did my research and chose three organizations. One that I personally support and two others to support professionally. My friend Diane McClay and I will discuss in detail how you can choose organizations that align with you on the December 1st episode of The Wonder Series
Gift of Life Transplant House
One of those organizations that I chose actually chose me. Years ago, when I moved to Rochester, MN, I started volunteering at Gift of Life Transplant House for a few hours a week. After a few months, the then Executive Director, Sister Margeen Hoffman, asked if I’d be interested in a part-time job. I declined twice. However, at her third request, I thought it was not in my best interest to say no to a nun a third time. It was one of the best decisions that I ever made! I loved working at GOL and fell in love with the sisters wh Margeen, Jane Francic, Rogene, Coleen, and Pat, who were the foundation of this fantastic house that helps and heals.
Each guest ( Mayo Clinic Patient) and their caregiver stayed as needed throughout their transplant process. Some for a night or two, others for weeks, and in a few instances a year or more. I may not remember all of their names, but I do recall their strength and courage. I learned something from each guest and even made some dear friends, and I hope that I gave them a fraction of what they gave me in return.
The Legacy Continues
It has been ten years since I worked at GOL, then nuns have passed on, and a new generation of staff continues their legacy by providing for transplant patients. Mary Wilder is now the Executive Director. She is kind, loving, generous, and perfect at the helm of GOL. You’ll get to meet her on the December 8th episode of The Wonder Series, which you can find at 12 pm CST every Wednesday live on FB or Youtube.
In honor of past guests and those who will stay in the future, I support Gift of Life Transplant House. Learn more about “The House” here. You can also support patients in need of transplantation by registering as an organ donor or by joining the stem cell registry at Be the Match.org
Food and Nutrition is more than my job
My experience in food and nutrition is more than a job; it is part of my everyday life. Beginning with the healthy food choices I make for myself, planning meals for my family, and helping people who want guidance about what they should eat for optimal health.
Real food, healthy foods should not be a luxury; everyone should have access to fruits and vegetables. Yet, in the United States, 54 million people do not have access to healthy food. Urban planning is partly to blame as some neighborhoods are void of stores that sell fruits and vegetables.
Hunger and food insecurity are not evenly spread throughout the US or even within our cities. The number of people in the US who do not have enough food to eat has increased. According to the USDA, 15% of households with children were classified as food insecure ( difficulty to meet the basic food needs in one year) in 2020. Schools and business closures may have led to some of the increase, but one thing is clear. The face of hunger does not necessarily look like you think it does.
Channel One Food Bank and Feeding America
As citizens of our communities, we must help our neighbors in need. I recently spoke to Jessica Sund, Director of Development and Communications at Channel One Food Bank in Rochester, MN. Jessica and I discussed the changing needs of the community and how they had to pivot during the pandemic. Teh food bank is more than a depository and warehouse for canned goods; it is the lifeblood of many struggling families.
Through the years I have donated hundreds of canned goods, either through a food drive or through donating at my local supermarket. Teh food bank relies heavily on volunteers to sort through donations. During the pandemic, volunteers were in short supply. Channel One ended physical food drives and replaced them with virtual ones. They are now able to raise money to purchase foods their customers requested. Items like eggs and milk, which they had never been able to accept. With their partnership with Feeding America, Channel One and other food banks have the buying power to purchase needed items at discounted rates.
I urge you to locate your local food bank and donate your time or money their what better way to give this holiday season than to provide healthy foods to your neighbors so they can celebrate together.
Cooks Who Feed
If you want to donate to a socially responsible company, check out Cooks Who Feed. Seema Sanghavi and her charity partners are fighting hunger and helping marginalized women to work.
Did you know that thousands of pounds of food go to waste globally, yet millions of people worldwide go hungry? In the US alone, 40 percent of food gets thrown away.
In the past year Cooks Who Feed and partners Rescue Leftover Cuisine in the USA, Second Harvest in Canada, and Feeding India have provided 361,300 meals and 7227 Fairtrade work hours.
Cooks Who Feed fights hunger through the sale of eco-friendly aprons. They use locally sourced, recycled, and natural materials to make the aprons in various colors and sizes for adults and kids. Each apron you buy provides 100 meals! Please visit their website and consider purchasing an apron ( or two) by visiting Cooks Who Feed by clicking here.
As the season of giving begins up can make a difference in the lives of your neighbors in many ways. Your donation of time and or money helps service your neighbor’s needs in a thoughtful and respectful way. You have the power to make this holiday season the most wonderful time of year for others. Don’t forget to enjoy them yourself!