Get Involved: Making Spirits Bright

By Mary Kate Murray
In Feature, Style

Spread holiday cheer with the traditions you love most.

 

We all have our fair share of holiday traditions that make the season special. This year, why not help those in need while enjoying the festive activities you love most? Project ARK, Gateway Homeless Services and the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association are just three of several charitable organizations you can join in bringing cheer to the lives of underprivileged St. Louisans. Heres how to get started.

Play Santa

This season, as you spend day after day shopping for the perfect gifts, keep in mind the thousands of St. Louis children who wont receive any presents during the holidays. Then, join Project ARK, a local organization that helps families affected by HIV/ AIDS, in its quest to provide presents to the children of these families during the holidays. You can donate toys or money to the organizations citywide Holiday Gold for Kids Toy Drive, which collects gifts for children from newborns up to age 14. Last year, more than 1,100 kids received gifts from the toy drive. “The gifts provided through this program are typically the only toys these children receive during the holiday season,” says the toy drives coordinator, Stacey Slovacek. “It makes a world of difference in providing hope and happiness during the holidays.” Those whod like to make an even bigger impact can host a “Party with Purpose” and have friends bring toys to donate. When the partys over, bring those toys to Project ARK and feel good knowing youve just made a childs holiday wish come true.

Click here for more info.

Bake for Good

For many, the holidays wouldnt be complete without adorning baked goodies with festive decorations. If youre passionate about giving backand have a sweet tooth you cant ignorejoin Gateway Homeless Services in its popular cookie-decorating parties as part of the organization’s 12 Days of Hope for Homeless Families initiative. Taking place in the weeks leading up to Christmas, the program was designed to alleviate the stress of homelessness during the holiday season. Gateway is the largest shelter for women and children in Missouri, so this party will be one for the books. Simply bring cookies and decorating supplies and have a blast decorating treats with the kids at the shelter. “Anything we can do to help ease the burden of homelessness for the kids we serve is a plus,” says Jenn Gauthier-Lyke, Gateways Resource Development Director. “We want to help the kids feel loved and special.” Seeing these kids faces light up as they enjoy the festive cookies is sure to brighten your day.

Click here to volunteer and get more info.

Carol for a Cause

Caroling is a quintessential holiday pastime. This year, consider teaming up with the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association to spread holiday cheer while supporting a good cause. First, recruit friends and family to join your caroling posse. Then, contact SLCCA to register your group, and youre good to go. Throughout November and December, carolers sing for donations and send that money back to SLCCA, which in turn, donates it to 41 St. Louis metro area childrens agencies, including Girls, Inc. of St. Louis, the American Youth Foundation, Every Childs Hope and more. Last year, more than 400 caroling groups raised money for SLCCAmost of them were families caroling around their own neighborhoods. Executive Director Joan Koontz is enthusiastic about SLCCA, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. “There is no other organization like this in the country,” she says. “Christmas caroling is a nice thing for families to do; it brings together all generations, and it makes the best family memories.” If youre nervous about singing in front of a crowd, Koontz is quick to calm your fears. “You dont have to be a fabulous singer. The most important part is that its coming from your heart.”

Click here to volunteer and get more info.

 

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St. Louis Christmas Carols Association

St. Louis Christmas Carols Association

 

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Christmas Carols Association

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