Attention: If you are planning to volunteer to lay veteran wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery on December 18th, 2021 for National Wreaths Across America Day, registration is required. You must register as a volunteer and will be required to show your email confirmation as proof of entry along with your photo identification. Thank you!
It’s kind to volunteer and to give money to charities, especially this time of year. But have you considered giving the gift of life?
The American Red Cross and other organizations have a critical need for blood donors right now. You can donate whole blood, which takes 1/2 hour or you can donate platelets or plasma or other blood products, which takes 2 to 3 hours. Both are needed. “As a result of low blood donor turnout in recent months, the Red Cross is heading into the holidays with its lowest blood supply in more than a decade at this time of year. The ongoing effects of COVID-19 and a summer spike in delta variant cases significantly challenged the nation’s blood supply heading into the fall. The pandemic also resulted in fewer blood drives at schools and colleges, contributing to a 34% drop in new blood donors from last year − one of the largest year-to-year decreases and one that could threaten essential medical care for patients.” (Red Cross website).
In the season of giving, spread holiday cheer, peace and good will in your community this holiday season by donating or volunteering. Here are some worthy causes…
Blood Donors Needed
Make an appointment to donate blood to the American Red Cross online. Volunteers are also needed. The McLean Community Center is hosting a blood drive in McLean, VA on December 17 and there are also other places you can give.
Wreaths Across America
Sponsor a “National Wreaths Across America” wreath to be placed at the grave of a departed member of the U.S. military services for $15 a wreath. November 1 – December 18. Volunteers also needed to place wreaths at Arlington Cemetery and other cemeteries on December 18.
One Warm Coat
Donate a gently used or new winter coat for a person in need to One Warm Coat. Cash donations also accepted. Drop off your donation at J. Crew store and receive $25 off a $125 purchase now through December 26.
Toys for Tots
Drop off a new, unwrapped toy at any Fairfax County Fire Station between now and December 12 or make a donation online. Volunteers also neeeded.
Salvation Army Angel Tree
Ask your workplace about bringing Christmas cheer to a family in need as an Angel Tree sponsor. You can also be an individual sponsor for a child by providing a donation online. Volunteers also needed. Read details here.
USPS Operation Santa
Register on this USPS site to read letters and select a child as an individual or a team to fulfill his or her Christmas wish. Not every child asks for a toy. Some ask for life’s essentials.
Northern Virginia Family Service
Donate funds, $25 gift cards to Target or Walmart, toys or volunteer for children and families experienciing homelessness, foster care, mental illness, poverty and other challenges. Learn more.
Nothing makes you feel like the spirit of Christmas like donating a toy to a child in need. But hurry! In just a day or two, it will be the last day to donate a new, unwrapped toy to the Marine Corps Reserves’ Toys for Tots.
Many of these toys are pricey but you don’t have to spend a fortune for a good gift. I think good quality basketballs make great gifts, too, as do larger plush animals and Tonka trucks for young children. Card games, like Uno, and electronic games, like Simon, are still popular and have retro appeal. Craft and science kits make great gifts for older children.
Don’t know what to buy? Visit the website for ideas or to donate cash so that toys may be bought.
The website also lists drop-off locations in your community. You can drop off your donation at any fire station in Fairfax County.
Every year, the Marine Toys for Tots program collects unwrapped toys to donate to economically disadvantaged children. Donations of toys, plush animals, bicycles, sports balls, board games, electronics and arts and crafts kits from individuals and companies are dropped off at fire stations, doctor’s offices, area businesses and other sites.
While the Postal Service began receiving letters addressed to Santa more than 108 years ago, it wasn’t until 1912 that Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock authorized local Postmasters to allow postal employees and citizens to respond to them. This became known as Operation Santa. The program has helped millions of less fortunate children and their families with Christmas gifts and is for every person of every belief, or non-belief.
The USPS Operation Santa program celebrates its 108th year in 2020 by opening up for nationwide participation. Now, more than ever, the program is needed to help less fortunate kids and families during the holidays.
This is how it works: Santa’s Elves open 100s of thousands of letters. For safety reasons, all personally identifiable information of the letter writer is removed (i.e. last names, addresses, ZIP Codes). The letters are then uploaded to USPSOperationSanta.com where they may be read and chosen for adoption by donating individuals and companies. The letters will be available this year beginning on December
Do you have a wish for Santa to know this year? To participate in the USPS Operation Santa program as a possible recipient of holiday gifts, all you have to do is write a letter, put it in a stamped envelope with a return address, and send it to Santa’s official workshop address as seen on the example envelope below. Letters will be accepted Nov. 16 – Dec. 15, 2020.
What should be included in the letter? The Postal Service is here to help with guides and tips to help kids write and send their best letters ever. All the information you could possibly need to write a letter, address an envelope, put on a stamp and send it on its way can be found on USPSOperationSanta.com and in our Holiday Newsroom.
If you have not already distributed presents and Christmas gifts to people who work for you, Boxing Day (December 26) is traditionally a time when servants were recognized with gifts of cash and is a perfect opportunity to do it.
Wondering how much to tip people who work for you?
The postman isn’t supposed to get cash. I wish I had known this, but you are not supposed to give postal workers cash, and they are not supposed to take it. It’s against their policies. They can accept presents with a value of less than $20. My postman took the money I gave him, but I’ll remember that next year. Continue reading →
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