It may be far more useful, to both the soul and to those in need, to consider giving to charity this Christmas instead of giving gifts.

By Marissa Lee.

Time spent inside this year has given many a consumer ample time to ruminate on many wants. From new clothing to home appliances and just about anything else someone could want, the 2020 quarantine season saw an e-commerce surge as people took to shopping to fill their time.

Now, just weeks from Christmas, it’s high time we reflect on just how much we may have accumulated during these past few months, and just how much more we actually need. And perhaps more importantly, ask how can we be of service to those in need? As consumers, we’re always looking for ways to do better, whether it be shopping sustainably, shopping from small businesses, or even making gifts ourselves. However, need and want are vastly different things, and while it can be quite the excitement to make a wish list and eye out the must-have new gadget to covet over the coming months, it may be far more useful, to both the soul and to those in need, to consider giving back this Christmas instead of giving gifts.

One way in which consumers can offer their support to those in need this Holiday season is through a number of charities, based both in the U.S. and abroad. One is The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or the NYSPCC. New York City is a metropolis filled with life spanning five boroughs, and with such a vast population comes a vast amount of children that need guidance and protection. The NYSPCC is the oldest child protection agency in the world whose services are more important than ever, as quarantine and stay-at-home measures have increased rates of domestic and child violence. The NYSPCC looks out for children in need and offers them the tools to survive and overcome their situations. Donations can be made here to support the organization in their mission to protect New York City’s youth.

Another key organization relevant especially to NYC is Publicolor, a stay-in-school youth development program that engages in high-risk students’ education 3 days a week for a 4 to 6 year continuum of support and skill development. This charity is especially relevant to students of color, as 51% of their student population is Black and 30% is Hispanic or Latinx. Publicolor is a hands-on community initiative that cares immensely for its students and engages them in programs such as arts development, SAT/college application prep, and college enrichment classes, as well as providing scholarships to certain students. Individuals can donate here to Publicolor, and see their money go towards a number of causes, including the scholarship, ending food insecurity among the participants, and other expenses required in keeping the program running.

A final charity which can help families across the United States and the world is World Central Kitchen. Founded in 2010, WCK seeks to fight food insecurity and global hunger, especially in the wake of the growing amounts of natural disasters that are impacting developing nations. WCK has overseen food provision programs in countries such as Indonesia and Mexico, and even oversees a ‘Plow to Plate’ program which helps citizens of developing countries create farming and food infrastructure and creates resiliency against food insecurity. WCK has a COVID-19-specific food provision program called #ChefsForAmerica, where they safely distribute individually packaged fresh meals in communities that need support. To date, they have carried out this project in over 400 American cities. Individuals can donate here.