If your family is looking to pay it forward this holiday season, look no further. Here’s a list of local organizations that could benefit from your generosity. Whether you give your time, money, or offer your voice, the individuals and families that use these services will be grateful. Spread some goodness and feel good, too! Gather your family, friends, and coworkers, and make holiday giving a tradition.

Catholic Charities Giving Tree
Give the gift of essential clothing, housewares, and personal items through Catholic Charities Giving Tree. For nearly 30 years, Catholic Charities has partnered with the Mall of America to collect donations.  You can shop from the wish list posted online, and then drop off the unwrapped item in person. Collection points include: Warming House, Mall of America, North Parking Lot, December 10 & 11, 2021, 4pm – 8pm or Catholic Charities Distribution Center, 341 Chester Street, St. Paul, Monday – Friday, 9am – 4pm. If you prefer to shop online and have the gift mailed directly to Catholic Charities, you can shop the curated Amazon list. The mission of Catholic Charities is to serve those most in need and to advocate for justice in the community.


People Reaching Out to People (PROP)

People Reaching Out to People (PROP) is collecting $30 gift cards to Target to give to their clients. The gift card may be used for gifts or food, and seniors and families with kids will benefit from your donation. Who doesn’t appreciate a trip to Target? Gift cards may be mailed or dropped off in person at PROP, 14700 Martin Drive, Eden Prairie. PROP was founded on the principle of neighbors helping neighbors. Your gift card donation will go to one of the 1,100 clients that use PROP services.


St. Anne’s Place
Bring cheer to the residents at St. Anne’s Place, a family shelter, by donating gifts for women and children. St. Anne’s Place sets up a holiday shop where children can pick out gifts for mom, and mom can pick out gifts for her child or children. Gifts should be new and unwrapped, and can be dropped off on December 12 and December 13 at 2634 Russell Ave N. You’ll need to schedule a drop off time online. Can’t shop in person or arrange to drop off your gifts? You’re in luck – you can shop from their Target wishlist and have items directly sent to St. Anne’s Place.


Gifts for Seniors
Seniors are one of the most isolated groups. Help brighten the lives of our older population through the Gifts for Seniors holiday drive. Gifts for Seniors serves over 7,000 socially isolated seniors with year round support and services. Gifts that are donated are hand selected by agency partners, and personally delivered to the seniors they serve. This personal visit is a gift in itself! The organization also is requesting Christmas and New Year’s cards. Put your creative talents to use, or share your photography skills with handmade cards to show you care. Write a positive message inside, and the staff will pass them out to their senior friends. Have a collection of unused cards sitting at home? Donate those to Gifts for Seniors, so seniors can use them to mail their own notes to their friends and family. Drop off items at the operations center in Minneapolis. Email the organization to arrange a socially distanced donation appointment. If shopping online and having it directly sent to Gifts for Seniors is more your thing, the website has links to registries via Amazon, Best Buy, and Target. Gifts are appreciated year round.


Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota
Bring a sense of hope and connection to the homeless youth of the Twin Cities. A holiday gift drive is happening now through Lutheran Social Services. They are in need of clothing, gift cards, grooming items, bus passes, and more. A detailed gift list is posted online.  Gifts need to be dropped off by December 10, at a St. Paul LSS site. Specific dates, times, and locations will be provided to you after sign up.


With an increased number of families struggling to make ends meet, PRISM needs the community’s assistance to fill their Holiday Toy Shoppe. Your donations will allow parents and caregivers the opportunity to “shop” for new gifts for their children. Wrapping paper and bows are supplied so that parents can have a dignified gift-giving experience. PRISM was established in 1970, as a way to provide food to local homeless or hungry families. Since then, it has expanded to offer children’s programs, a thrift shop, a homeless prevention program, and individualized services with a case manager. You can purchase from several online wish lists including Target and Amazon. Wish lists can be found on the organization’s website.


If you don’t know where to donate your dollars to, check out GiveMN and search through their database. They have over 13,000 nonprofits and schools registered on their site. You can search by zip code, cause, and even filters like BIPOC community and donation matching. Great site if you’re looking for causes to volunteer with, or events to support, too! Bookmark this site to use yearlong!


Spending time as a family giving to others helps teach the importance of kindness and generosity. Gifts don’t need to be large to make an impact. As a giver, the act of putting thought into your intentions has several feel good benefits. It helps you appreciate what you have. It also fosters empathy and encourages new perspectives. With our family, we have appreciated learning about new causes near and far – we’ve sponsored an animal gift across the globe! We’ve also discovered conservation groups that needed financial support. However you are driven to spread holiday cheer, thank you! Sometimes the best gift is to be able to give to others!

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Carolyn Wieland

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