If you’re surrounded by family, health, and love this holiday season, you’re one of the lucky ones. But what about those for whom the holidays are a dark reminder of what they lack, a time in which life’s misfortunes weigh most heavily? What if we looked to our community to help make a difference? Fortunately we can, thanks to Knoxville’s many charitable organizations.
No matter how large or small the gesture, there’s always a way to help our less fortunate neighbors.
Since launching three years ago, many of KMB’s contributors have written on the importance of teaching our children — and reminding ourselves — about being thankful. We’ve participated in a 30 days of thankful photo-a-day project, learned how to make a DIY thankful board perfect for Thanksgiving, taught our children to perform random acts of kindness that have a far and lasting reach into the hearts of strangers, and we’ve encouraged our children to note the things for which they are thankful using a thankful tree. So, it was no surprise that when I asked my fellow KMB contributors about their favorite local charitable organizations, the list was long; in fact, many of the KMB ladies and their families are actively involved in some wonderful charitable organizations in town.
So, with no further ado, here are some of our favorite charitable organizations:
Dear Santa – run through the Helen Ross McNabb Center, the Dear Santa program provides holiday gifts for children up to 18 years of age. Get involved by sponsoring a child or several children in a family by purchasing and wrapping toys, games, books and clothing.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) – ETCH leads the way to healthy children through exceptional, comprehensive family-centered care, wellness and education. Volunteer your time to hospitalized children and their families. ETCH offers year-round opportunities in Arts and Crafts, Child Life, Cuddlers, Pediatric Medical Library, and the Surgery Lounge to name a few. Click here to download their Adult Volunteer Application.
For The Kids at UTK – a UT student-run organization focusing on raising funds used to support ETCH’s families impacted by childhood cancer and blood disorders. Donate to help support the purchase of life-saving equipment for ETCH’s Hematology and Oncology Clinic.
Knoxville Area Rescue Missions (KARM) – offers rescue services of food and shelter to those in need. You can donate and/or volunteer through KARM’s various events year-round. I am happy to share that all 900 boxes of the 2016 Baskets of Hope were adopted on the first day, which leaves our community the opportunity to contribute to the “Bed in a Bag” program. You can find “Bed in a Bag” instructions here. You can also help out at the Thanksgiving Celebration and Coats for the Cold distribution days.
Mission of Hope – delivers hope to the families living in rural Appalachia through programs such as Back to School, the Annual Christmas Campaign & Blue Barrel Collections, and Scholarship program. If you’d like to make a donation, you may do so here.
News Sentinel Empty Stocking Fund – provides food and toys to disadvantaged East Tennesseans during the holidays. Volunteer to distribute toys and food baskets to families in need (distributions take place on December 19 – December 23, 2016 at Jacob Building, Chilhowee Park, 3301 Magnolia Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37914). You can also make a contribution to the Fund to help stock the food baskets.
Project Gabriel – founded by our very own Lauren, Project Gabriel gives support, encouragement, and community to the women and their families who have experienced perinatal and infant loss, including miscarriage and perinatal and infant death. For more information about Project Gabriel, you can get in touch with Lauren and if you’d like to make a donation you can do so here.
Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee – East Tennessee’s largest hunger-relief charity, operating programs in 18 counties. The Food Bank distributes 16+ million pounds of food and grocery products annually through food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and schools. Donate and/or get involved by participating in the Virtual Food Drive.
The Angel Tree – provides clothing items, gifts, and toys to Knox County’s (and surrounding metro area) neediest children during the holiday season. Donate and/or volunteer by becoming a tree staffer, gift processor, sorter/checker, or gift wrapper.
The Love Kitchen – serves over 3,000 meals each week to Knoxville’s needy, with more than 80% of those meals being delivered to home-bound recipients. Donate food items or money and/or volunteer your time.
The Pillow Project – in collaboration between churches, local organizations, and the Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC), the Pillow Project works to help homeless families, individuals, and seniors by providing basic household items to those in need.
United Way of Greater Knoxville – brings together resources to improve the lives of people in Knoxville by helping them achieve their potential for self-sufficiency. Donate and/or check out their volunteer opportunities.
Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC) – provides services to prevent and end homelessness through case management and permanent housing solutions. Donate and/or participate in the Holiday Store Program which enables those without Christmas shopping money to “earn” gifts for their loved ones by using their time and muscle to complete community service work which pays them in points, redeemable at the Holiday Store. Every year, VMC relies upon the community to “stock” the store with all new merchandise suitable for gift giving. Toys, baby dolls, small electronics, fragrance sets, household items, sports equipment, small tools, etc. are needed.
There are many, many more organizations which could use our help this holiday season and throughout the year. Volunteer Knoxville makes finding volunteer opportunities in Knoxville a breeze with their volunteer opportunities search engine and upcoming events calendar. Make sure to check them out too!