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United Way of Southwest Alabama / Uncategorized  / Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

The holidays are a time of giving and giving back to the community is a rewarding way to get the family involved in holiday activities.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of charitable activities that can bring abundance to your family:


Volunteer individually or as a family to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama, a UWSWA partner agency. Simply sign up for a date, time and location that’s convenient for you. Then, start ringing with a smile. Wish shoppers a “Merry Christmas” and thank people for their donation.

Children under 14 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and teens younger than 16 must have permission to volunteer from a parent or guardian. To schedule your time to ring a bell, contact the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama at 251-438-1625.


Our partner Feeding the Gulf Coast distributes food to families across the Gulf Coast region. Facilitate your own food drive or gather cash and nonperishable food donations to contribute to the food bank.

Or volunteer to sort food donations – either as a family or larger group! Volunteers are needed to help inspect and sort food donations to get them ready for distribution to those in need. This includes checking expiration dates, making sure cans are not rusty or missing labels and boxing similar items together to put on our shelves for our partner organizations to stock their pantries. Volunteers age 12 and up.


Donate your time and volunteer at a shelter. Visiting a shelter to meet the people you serve one-on-one can be a gratifying experience for the entire family.

There are several shelters in the area, for more information please contact the United Way 2-1-1 Helpline by dialing 2-1-1 or toll-free 1-888-421-1266.


If your family has gently used clothes, coats, sheets, or other textiles, donate them to UWSWA partner Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast. Coats are items that the homeless and low-income families need during the cold winter months.

Find a Goodwill Easter Seals location near you by visiting their website.


Pull together a group of families or friends and prepare a meal to feed families who cannot be home for the holidays because they have a child in the hospital. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mobile provides meals around the clock for the families staying there.

For more information, contact Janice Dute-Hatchett at 251-694-6873 or


In existence since 1979, the Salvation Army of Coastal Alabama Angel Tree Program serves over 2,500 children in our area. Sponsoring a child (or more) is a great way to teach the importance of philanthropy and giving back to members of your family.

For more information about the location of the Angel Trees in our area, please visit the Coastal Alabama Angel Tree website.


Help less fortunate children experience the magic and wonder of Christmas by donating a toy to the Toys for Tots. Every year they strive to “deliver a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.” For a list of toy drop-off locations, please visit the local Toys for Tots website.

Or volunteer to help sort and/or distribute the collected toys. For more information, email


There are several animal shelters in our area that are in need of helping hands and plenty of furry friends in need of love. This is a great opportunity to get the warm fuzzies of volunteering while loving on and caring for our furry friends.

For a full list of opportunities to walk a dog, pet a cat, or help in other ways, visit Volunteer Connect.


If none of these activities tickle your fancy, there are still many ways to get involved in the community and give back. Visit Volunteer Connect for a list of needs.

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