Christmas in July – a better time to help

Having worked with several human services agencies as both a volunteer and Board member, one of the challenges is the timing of cash flow and the need for more of it. Many agencies are funded through a combination of federal, state and local money and donations from the faith community, foundations, businesses and individuals.

During the holiday season, these agencies are blessed with an inflow of giving that would honor Christmas or Hanukkah. Those donations are greatly appreciated and are used judiciously throughout the year. But, the time of greatest need is during the summer months, when the kids are off from school.

Much of my effort has been around helping homeless families climb a ladder back to self-sufficiency. The families we help work, sometimes more than one job, but cannot make ends meet or an event has caused them to lose their home. The event could be the breakdown of a car, significant healthcare expenses, reduction in hours at work or the loss of a job.

During the summer months, the working parent(s) are finding and paying for ways to look after children. Also, their hours are cut back due to people being on vacation and shopping less. Or, they work in the school system and are not paid during the summer months. Yes, we have helped teachers and teacher assistants who are homeless.

Rather than waiting to give in December, look into places you normally give and donate during the summer months. Whether it is your money, clothing, books, goods or time, the donation will be greatly appreciated. In fact, small groups of people often can perform duties – stuffing envelopes, setting up crafts, providing day care, etc. that will be beneficial. Look at each organization’s website and see the best way to volunteer.

I have witnessed some wonderful organizations who take their stewardship roles very seriously. They do more with less, but sometimes it is hard. It should not have to be this hard. Thank you in advance for your consideration of helping them make it through.

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9 thoughts on “Christmas in July – a better time to help

  1. Good tip! If people wonder about how much of their money actually goes to help people, they can check out “Charity Navigator” a group that tries to weed out the phonies.

  2. Note to Readers: When people ask me about helping others, I encourage them to follow their passions. Opportunities exist to help the children, disabled folks, homeless, hungry, elderly, e.g. The local United Way websites are a good place to look. Some newspapers have online assistance to find organizations in need. One thing for certain, by helping others, you will be doing your own heart some good.

  3. Note to Readers: One of my favorite examples of how wonderful our social workers are occurred when one visited her client. When she asked the mom how she was coming with her bills, the mom said she does them on the dining room table, and often she just lays her head down on the papers and just cries. The social worker offered support and empathy, but then said we still have to do them, so let’s go through them and prioritize. This is what I call walking side by side with a client. The client must do the work, but the social worker is there.

    By helping people climb a ladder, the cycle of homelessness can be broken. We measure everything, so we know our model has helped over 80% of our clients leave our program with sustainable housing. And, we know that over 80% of those folks are still housed after two years on their own. When you give to programs ask them how they measure success. It is important for you to know.

    • Lisa, you are so right. They are begging for more, which is why the need for the post. Of course, one network is running Christmas movies in July, so that can get folks in the spirit. Keith

  4. Great reminder, Keith. Thanks. One of the few really great things the USPS does, thanks to prodding from, of all things, the National Association of Letter Carriers, is the nationwide food drive in May.

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