How to give back to the community

As the end of November rolls around, the season of holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas is fast approaching.  Plans for feasts and festivities are set in place and presents are bought. On the other hand, with the holidays, there is an added stress on families whose incomes cannot support the additional monetary burdens of the holiday season. However, there are ways to take part in the giving spirit of the holidays to help out these families.

Way 1 – Food Banks: Donating to your local food bank is a great option to help out your community both year long and during the holiday season. Organizations such as FeedMore also provide food to children around Central Virginia. Many food banks ask for food that is non-perishable or with a long shelf life, including whole grain snacks, peanut butter, and canned or dry beans.

Way 2 – Henrico Christmas Mother: With the Christmas Mother, families have the opportunity to sponsor a family or senior citizen. Through sponsorship, you will have the opportunity to speak with your sponsored family or senior and provide them with gifts during the holiday season.  However, if sponsorship is not an option for you or your family, donations can be made on the Christmas Mother website:

Way 3 – Family Lifeline, Friendly Baskets of Cheer: During the holiday season, many older people experience sadness or isolation due to distance from loved ones. In order to bring some joy to the lives of older citizens with disabilities during the holidays, Family Lifeline is accepting boxes made up of stationary, toiletries, sewing kits, non-perishable food items, or other objects that could bring a splash of joy into an older person’s life. For more information on donating boxes visit:

Way 4 – Peter Paul Development Center, Thanksgiving Box Program, and Christmas Angel Program: For Thanksgiving, the Peter Paul Development Center is accepting non-perishable food items that could help a family have a nice Thanksgiving dinner. With the Christmas Angel program, a family can “adopt” a child to buy unwrapped gifts for and drop those off at the Peter Paul Development Center. More information and a place for monetary donations can be found at:


How to give back through family and friends: Holidays are also a great time to show a family member or friend who has influenced your life how much they mean to you. By putting in effort to do a few simple acts throughout the winter months, your appreciation to your loved ones can be kindly displayed.

Way 1 – Bake a dessert: Food and desserts take on a deeper meaning during the holiday season. Share some of that love by baking a dessert for your family or friends. Here is a great recipe to try during the season:

Triple Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies


3/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup baking cocoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped

2 teaspoons canola oil, divided

3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

¼ cup crushed candy canes (about 10 miniature)

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a small bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture.
  2. Shape dough into 1-in. balls; place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten to 2-in. rounds with the bottom of a glass. Bake 6-8 minutes or until set (do not overbake). Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
  3. In a microwave, melt white chocolate with 1 teaspoon oil; stir until smooth. Drizzle over cookies. Repeat with semisweet chocolate and remaining oil. Sprinkle tops with crushed candy canes; let stand until set. Yield: about 3 dozen.

Recipe found from:

Way 2 – Help out where it is needed: If you have a friend who is stressing with college essays or a mom or dad trying to put together the perfect holiday for you and your family, ask what you can do to help them out. Take on a chore you normally avoid for your sibling. Help your parents out with the planning. You can even offer to edit your friend’s essay or help him or her study for an upcoming test.


illustrations Alysse Stephens

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