Year-end traditions are likely to look quite different this year. COVID-19 means scaling back family gatherings, worshipping from a distance, avoiding mad dashes on Black Friday, and canceling that wild New Year’s Eve party. One custom that shouldn’t change: digging deep to support our neighbors. We’re fortunate in Rhode Island, with many exceptional organizations serving those in need across our state. And they could use our support now more than ever.
The Jonnycake Center for Hope serves people in South Kingstown and Narragansett who are struggling with poverty and hunger.
How you can help: Donate gift cards for seniors, or toys for kids; commit to volunteering for six months, and contribute to their capital campaign to renovate the former Peace Dale Grammar School into a headquarters for food and support services.
In Newport, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center fights hunger, promotes health, educates kids, supports families, and engages seniors.
How you can help: Make a donation in honor of someone special, or do a food or toiletry drive to benefit MLK Center clients.
The Genesis Center educates and trains 1,000 adults each year and offers a 5-Star BrightStars Early Learning program in Providence.
How you can help: Check out Genesis Center’s online wish list, which includes everything from Chromebooks to crayons, and volunteering with remote classes.
“Flowers bring solace and joy” says the organizers behind What Cheer Flower Farm. The urban farm gives their flowers to local organizations like food pantries, hospitals, and recovery centers.
How you can help: Volunteer in the fields, arrange flowers, or deliver bouquets.
The Avenue Concept is behind many of Providence’s stunning public art pieces, including the new VOTE mural at 1 Ship Street.
How you can help: Become a member, donate supplies, or partner to install public art at your place of business.
Our state has a deep connection with slavery. Rhode Island Slave History Medallions raise awareness of the ways enslaved people shaped our economic and cultural development.
How you can help: Make a contribution to help RISHM install medallions across the state.
One Thing Helps encourages everyone to do just one thing for someone else (although more are encouraged!) to combat
loneliness and social isolation.
How you can help: Download the Kindness Kit, and share on Instagram with #onethinghelps.
In Northern Rhode Island, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley is creating affordable homes and nurturing strong communities.
How you can help: Contribute financially.
The Women’s Resource Center works to prevent domestic violence and serves as the backbone of the Newport Health Equity Zone, a city-wide coalition mobilizing residents and resources of the Broadway and North End neighborhood.
How you can help: Check out the online wishlist, or donate gift cards for families for the holidays.
At the holidays and throughout the year, there are many actions we can take to support our neighbors. Adopt an organization for the holidays in lieu of gifts. Follow these groups on social media, and when you see something that you’re proud to say exists in your community, take a moment to share it within your own networks. Consider ways to stretch the impact of your charitable giving, perhaps by making a monthly recurring donation. Patronize local merchants as much as possible. Your money will support your neighbors and stay local longer, a win-win. And subscribe to a local news outlet to support the important work they do. (Nonprofit news organizations like ecoRI News or The Public’s Radio accept charitable contributions.)
Editor’s Note: This year #GivingTuesday falls on December 1, 2020.