Local organizations share ways to give back for holidays

As the final month of the year begins, there still are an abundance of opportunities to give back to the community and those in need this year.

Leaders of local organizations say this is the time of year when they see an increase in financial donations and people searching for ways to give.

“We have people who generously give without being asked at this time of year,” said Theresa Caldwell, director of Dubuque Food Pantry.

People are interested in opening their wallets and their schedules, noted United Way of Dubuque Area Tri-States President and CEO Danielle Peterson.

Here are some ways that local leaders say those interested in giving back during the holiday season can do so.

Buy a holiday gift for someone who needs it. Showering friends and family with presents during the holidays is common, but what about supplying gifts for strangers?

“Some people really like to get holiday gifts for young children or household needs for parents,” Peterson said.

The Salvation Army Angel Tree program and Marine Corps Toys For Tots are among organizations providing presents for families who otherwise might not be able to secure gifts for children on Christmas.

Salvation Army Maj. Judy Mills said the organization still is accepting toy donations. Participants can pick up a wish-list and return donations to bins at Dubuque Bank & Trust by Tuesday, Dec. 7, or at the Salvation Army office, 1099 Iowa St., until the group begins distributing toys on Dec. 13.

Share your time. Some families look for ways to volunteer together at the end of the year, Peterson said.

United Way and Resources Unite both have websites outlining local volunteer opportunities and nonprofit organizations.

“It’s like a matching system to find a meaningful opportunity,” Peterson said of the joint City of Dubuque/United Way database at volunteerdbq.com.

Launch a drive. Another thing that people can do if they have the funds or the time is launch a drive, Peterson said.

“Within the family or at work, you might want to do a canned food drive for a local food pantry or a book drive,” she said.

Peterson said people can hold drives for just about anything. There are needs across the community for food, books, diapers, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, clothes or toys.

Those interested in hosting a drive can see what items local organizations need by connecting with them directly or reaching out to United Way, she said.

Give a monetary donation. Those interested in making a donation can take advantage of the Endow Iowa tax credit, an annual offering, or the charitable giving clause of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which expires this year, said Jeff Danna, communications manager at Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque.

The community foundation hosts endowed funds for a variety of local causes and organizations. Donations to those can be made online at dbqfoundation.org/donors/giving-center.

Danna also pointed to the foundation’s Forever Fund to help meet future community needs.

“The Forever Fund is the way people can give now to help address whatever needs come up in the future,” Danna said.

Support a food pantry. Food banks and pantries help feed the hungry with the help of community members who give time, food or funds.

Caldwell said organizations often can stretch cash further, but if people want to give items, they might consider donating the types of food that they themselves enjoy around the holidays.

Each year, the Dubuque Food Bank offers Christmas baskets, including a holiday meal, as well as additional snacks and sometimes gifts for children. Donations for Christmas baskets must be collected by Dec. 17.

“We will get it and use it to bless people,” Caldwell said.