Column: Ways students can give back this holiday season

Students can donate toys in Marrs Mclean Science building. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Mykah Briscoe | Reporter

The holiday season is known for bringing people together and reminding us of all we have to be grateful for. It is also the time of year when people feel the most generous.

However, with buying presents for family and friends and just trying to make it through the end of the school year in any way you can (usually frequent food or coffee runs), it is also the time of year when we are confronted by the fact that money can be a little tight.

As college students, we also often underestimate the difference we can make. Money and time feel tight and often leads us to neglect giving back because we feel we wouldn’t be able to do enough or anything that might actually make a difference. But whether it is $5 or $500, a difference can be made.

So, while we are thinking of what to put on our Christmas lists and ways to keep us up for optimal study time, let’s also take some time to think of some realistic ways we can give back. To help you, here is a brief list of local nonprofits and ways we can give back this holiday season.

Mission Waco’s Annual Christmas Toy Store

Mission Waco is accepting donations for their Annual Christmas Store that will run the first week of December. It provides a way for low-income families to buy new, high quality gifts at an 80% discount for Christmas. Mission Waco is accepting both monetary and item donations, with a list of item examples on the website, they only ask that you do not bring school supplies or stuffed animals. The Christmas Store is also volunteer run, so they are looking for volunteers to process the toys and work the store.

Sunshine Recovery House GoFundMe

The Sunshine Recovery House is hosting a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to raise money to pay for their house’s much needed window replacements. As the temperatures drop the new windows will help provide insulation crucial to the comfort and safety of the house. They can also be supported through their milkshake shop in Union Hall called Unshakeable Milkshakes. All profits made help support the house and the women living there.

Compassion Waco Christmas Store

Compassion Waco is accepting donations for their Christmas Store through Dec. 12 to provide families, both parents and children, the opportunity to get gifts for each other. Donation ideas can be found on their Facebook page as well as their website. You can also buy items directly from their Amazon Wish List, linked on their website, and the purchase will be automatically delivered to Compassion Waco.

General Donations

There are many nonprofits in Waco and beyond that accept general donations all year round. Caritas and the Waco Family Abuse Center are two local nonprofits that accept donations and have lists of what they are looking for on their websites. There are also international nonprofits that are accepting monetary donations. Compassion International is accepting donations of any amount and will send a Christmas gift to a child. There is also the option to buy a gift from their gift catalog that ranges in prices and what will be provided.

Go see Wild Lights at Cameron Park Zoo

If you’re looking for something to do that will also help a cause, the Cameron Park Zoo is hosting its Wild Lights event from Nov. 25 to Dec. 31. The times and exact schedule can be found on their website. The zoo will be decorated with many lights and attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a free scavenger hunt as they walk through. There will also be local food trucks and other treats, which will vary depending on the night.

Buy your gifts locally or from nonprofits

A great way to give back, while also getting things done, is to purchase gifts from small businesses or nonprofits. Jesus Said Love is a Waco nonprofit that sells apparel, candles, etc. or, for those with a green thumb, you can buy plants from Urban REAP.

You can also have a direct impact by purchasing your Christmas gifts from small businesses instead of Amazon. By keeping your money local, you can bear witness to the impact your money can make and meet those who are working to make that impact happen.