Help is On the Way

Ah, the holidays. Leave it to the cold weather and large meals to bring out the do-gooder (or guilt) in our hearts. Many local charities will start to see an influx of donations and volunteers as the days grow colder, and often struggle to organize the masses. Instead of making a half-hearted attempt or going full turkey into volunteering, here are a few options that can make a huge impact.

The opportunity Zone (Oz)

The OZ is a drop-in facility located at 1157 N Emporia and is exclusively for homeless teens and youth in crisis in Wichita. Youth who visit are able to have access to food, hygiene supplies, clothing, showers, laundry, computers and most importantly, a place of safety—anything to help make their situation less desperate. Youth can meet with street outreach workers and mentors to help navigate their personal situation and receive resources.

The OZ is always in need of volunteers to prepare and deliver meals for approximately 20 staff and youth. They even say you can order take-out if you are not the cooking type! This is an ongoing need and they have many Friday lunch opportunities between now and the end of the year.

Thrifting local

The Assistance League of Wichita operates a small thrift shop on the corner of Douglas Avenue and Poplar Street. The shop is run completely by volunteers and collects, processes, cleans and organizes donations as well as operates a storefront. They have multiple shifts each day (read more about the store here).

Don’t have time to volunteer? Donate some unwanted or unused items in your home. The Assistance League partners with many other local organizations to ensure items get a good home; one example is the Sedgwick County Zoo. When bedding donations are received that are unable to be resold, the Assistance League sends them to be reused for the animal residents of the SCZ.

Another small local thrift store is The Treehouse. The Treehouse offers mothers and babies basic necessities, education and personal care. Located at 151 N. Volutsia, the Treehouse accepts donations of gently used clothing and items for children birth to child-size eight. Clothes, car seats, bouncers, cribs and other infant necessities are commonly needed as well as new layette items, diapers and formula donations.

Dillons Community Rewards

Do you grocery shop at Dillons? If you have a Dillons Rewards card then you can easily give back to local organizations just by buying groceries! Log in to your Dillons account (the same one for Clicklist or Digital Coupons) and go to the Explore Tab (or just type Community Rewards in the search box). After a few simple clicks, you can start having a portion of your purchases donated to your favorite local charity.

Amazon Smile

Just like Dillons, Amazon has a similar program called Amazon Smile. Simply go to smile.amazon.com or log into your Amazon account and find Amazon Smile.

Through a similar process, you can select a charity and know that all that holiday shopping (or normal shopping) will go to help your favorite organization. Don’t forget many organizations will accept direct-shipped donations as well.

Blanket Drive

Most people think of donating warm winter items like coats, hats and gloves, but many overlook a common need: blankets and comforters. Last year Inter-Faith Ministries ran out of blankets on their first distribution date, giving out more than 1,000 in one day.

Blankets are collected through their Operation Holiday drive each year but they never have enough to fill the demand, even when limiting to one blanket per family.

Get Social

Have you ever met your child or grandchild’s school social worker or nurse? This time of year can be a filled with sickness, cold temperatures and other challenges and there are easy ways to help. Most neighborhood schools keep extra clothes on hand for accidents, sick kids or those that may need assistance. Not only do they need donations to meet this demand, they can often use extra help sorting, organizing or washing donated or returned items. Think of the impact that could be made by doing one extra load of laundry! This is also a great time to round up summer and fall items children have already grown out of. Good condition shoes, coats, and outerwear will always be put to good use.

There are so many ways to make a huge impact this season for our city.

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