As we enter the holiday season, we’ve decided to do our part to spread cheer and do some good in the world. Want to join us? Here are 10 ways to spread cheer in San Antonio this holiday season. It’s not as hard as it sounds and once you get going, the good vibes ripple through other parts of your life.
I’m not afraid to admit that this isn’t easy for me. I had an awful experience in college and I’ve stayed away from donating since then. But donated blood literally keeps people alive. There is a national shortage, and the same is true in San Antonio and across Texas. And honestly, there’s never excess. Blood is not just for accidents or disasters. It’s needed for cancer patients, patients with chronic diseases, burn patients, and more.
So I went to my South Texas Blood & Tissue blood drive and not only survived, but also felt good doing something that will help others. The staff was amazing and it took absolutely no time—I was done in less than 30 minutes.
There are donor centers across San Antonio, including New Braunfels and Boerne, and it’s easy to make an online appointment at any of the centers. I’ve already marked my calendar to do it again when I’m eligible.
Have a stack of books your kids have outgrown? You can support the San Antonio Independent School District Foundation’s Book Buddies program by donating your books so that other children, ages kinder through 8th grade, can use those books. Gently used or new books appropriate for preschool, elementary, and middle school-aged students, as well as culturally relevant books and books in Spanish are greatly needed. You can even organize a book drive with friends and drop off donations through a pre-arranged appointment by calling (210) 554-2235. And, even better: you can also volunteer as a family to sort donated books!
Did you know that one in three families doesn’t have access to an adequate supply of diapers? The Texas Diaper Bank has been working since 2013 to change the lives of babies, children with disabilities, and seniors in the Greater San Antonio Area and 12 surrounding counties. You can help by donating diapers at their warehouse or donating funds. Volunteers are also needed to help package diapers for distribution. Baby wipes and incontinence supplies are also accepted, so donate to help families in need.
Get Moving for a Fun Run/Walk
There are a number of charitable fun runs/walks around San Antonio. Sign up your family to support a cause and get some exercise at the same time. We’re not runners, but we had so much fun at the Turkey Trot that we’re trying to do one run a month this year. Hint: no one is judging your time, and your kids will have a blast running in the street, especially as you often run by San Antonio landmarks and fun locations. You can explore a schedule of upcoming events (or here) online and check sites that list races (also here and here) to see updated options throughout the year.
Sponsor an Animal
Not ready to add a furry family member but want to help one find a home? Sponsor one through the Animal Defense League. Every single pet at ADL is heartworm tested, spayed/neutered, microchipped, de-wormed, and treated for additional medical care they may need. Your sponsorship will go toward your sponsored pet’s care and includes your photo and notification of your sponsorship on your chosen pet’s website profile. Sponsorships can be made in honor or in memory of a special person or pet, as well.
You can also help a senior in need feed their pet through Meals on Wheels’ AniMeals program. Founded after Meals on Wheels discovered that many clients receiving their services were sharing their meals with their pets because they couldn’t afford pet food, your support allows clients to keep their furry family members fed while they receive healthy meals through Meals on Wheels.
The San Antonio Food Bank always needs more support to help meet the needs of families across 29 counties, serving more than 90,000 individuals each week. Donate funds or let your kids shop for other kids and donate food. All San Antonio area Goodwill stores and donation centers have a San Antonio Food Bank red barrel for your non-perishable food donations, making it easy to drop off your donation.
You and your family can help keep our rivers and creeks, and our city, clean by participating in the annual Basura Bash in February, or by helping year-round through River Aid SA, or by simply keeping San Antonio clean because trash that hits the ground ultimately makes it into our waterways.
Sponsor a Senior
While children are often the focus of community programs, there are fewer programs that target the senior population. Ascension DePaul Services does both. Dedicated to establishing and maintaining community-based programs that increase accessibility to need services in south San Antonio and Bexar County, ADS provides medical, dental, and wellness support, as well as social services. You can donate to support their annual Senior Christmas project, where they distribute bags of food, hygiene items, and special Christmas gifts to seniors. If you’d like to support their efforts for children, they hold an annual back-to-school drive, too.
Another way to help seniors in our community is to support Meals on Wheels.
Donate Clothes and Shoes
Support Christian Assistance Ministry’s Soles4Souls shoe drive (February and March) or donate new and gently used items throughout the year. How do you know what qualifies as “gently used”? If it’s something you’d wear or use for yourself or your children, with no stains, tears, or damage, it qualifies. You can also donate items to Haven for Hope, including household goods.
Volunteer as a Family
Volunteering as a family is a great way to give back. We’ve sorted food at the food bank, sorted and boxed books at Book Buddies, helped with a park clean-up, delivered food and supplies to seniors, and yes, we ran the Turkey Trot last year and recently fostered an animal in need. Volunteering together has become something we enjoy and look forward to. It’s also teaching our son the importance of giving back and how even a small act can help others.
What other ways have you found to give back? How are you and your family spreading some good this holiday season?