30 ways to give back this holiday season

I suppose I should introduce myself to you readers.  I’m Rachel and I joined the Plum Sage team this fall.  My background in flowers is farm-y, I worked the last four years at a local flower and vegetable farm (Pastures of Plenty… you may be familiar as Erin purchases product here often). I feel so lucky to get to work with all the talented ladies at Plum Sage!

Can you believe it’s almost time to think about the holidays? I can’t.  Jeez, wasn’t it just peony season? Which happens to be my favorite season, BTW.  I guess if I can’t have a big bouquet of peonies on my coffee table, I can begin to think about the holiday season and what it means to me…  (delicious food, mostly!)  Erin asked me to think about ideas that we could suggest to our blog readers, friends and family that would help give back to our local community.  Below are a few suggestions. We’d obviously love to hear from you if there is a great program that we over-looked.

30 Ideas to Give Back this Holiday Season:

Consider joining, donating or volunteering at the Denver Botanic Gardens. A membership gets you 365 days of admission to the gardens! It it’s not in your budget to donate, think about volunteering. What better way to connect with nature than by getting a little dirty? The Denver Botanic Gardens has more than 1,900 volunteers annually- helping and learning with the experts.

Denver Urban Gardens has a great mission: Denver Urban Gardens comes alongside residents, and together, we grow community – one urban garden at a time. Help grow our community!  We think anyone that helps provide access to fresher and healthier food needs a shout-out! D.U.G. works with DeLaney Community farm to put together workshops for summer. I realize it’s November, but check their calendar in the spring for opportunities to become a master gardener.

Denver Parks and Recreation …volunteer with the organization that does it all; everything from keeping up city pools and after school programs, maintaining our parks. Denver is a beautiful city due to the numerous green patches around town. Let’s help maintain them!

Grow Local Colorado … volunteer with a group dedicated to promoting local food, local community, and local economy. This group connects food banks/pantries with school gardens, community gardens (or even your own home garden) to distribute healthy and locally grown food.

Again, I know, its November… BUT, this is the best time to think about joining a CSA for next summer. Local Harvest will help you find the right fit. Community Supported Agriculture is a great way to partner with a local farm.  You buy into a ‘share’ of a farms’ harvest for a pre-determined season length.  This share includes fresh, often organic, local produce and flowers. What could be better?! (PS signing up early helps your farmer buy seeds! Yay!)

Ample Harvest connects 40+ million Americans with excess food in their garden and local food pantries.  This organization will take donations both from your own garden (thinking ahead) or from your grocery shopping excursions.

Pay it forward… buy coffee for the under caffeinated person in line behind you at your LOCAL (small chain) coffee shop such as Common Grounds

Donate an old prom (or, ahem…bridesmaid dress) to  Donate My Dress or The Princess Project

Donate blood to Bonfils. This means you get to eat an extra cookie! 

Donate your old cell phone (yes, that old clunker you keep ‘just in case’) to help low income users in Latin America or battered women’s shelters.  You can drop them at your carriers store front or the Denver Zoo is running a collection and recycling program. Or donate to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence on December 5th. 

My friend just donated her old sewing machine to Mission Wear but any donation to Mission Wear is welcome. Your tax-deductible donations directly support the employment of women in rehabilitation, and help us to purchase materials for our shopping bags and other recycled products.

Help with flood relief In Colorado by restoring some of our precious recreation and outdoor spaces. Healing the land….building community.

The Humane Society of the South Platte Valley: Even if you can’t adopt a pet, you can volunteer at the shelter or just donate to sponsor one. Or donate online to the Animals Advocate Alliance to relocate an animal to a no-kills shelter and assist in the adoption process.

Toys for Tots: While the holidays are the big time for this organization, they do accept donations year round.

Random Acts of Flowers is a great organization recycle flower arrangements to hospitals, hospices and nursing homes. Although there is not a CO chapter, Plum Sage would be MORE than happy to do this for you after your event so consider this with all your beautiful holiday arrangements! Another example of this (unfortunately, also not local) Petals with a Purpose serves as a resource to people who wish to donate their flowers after weddings, special events, galas and corporate parties. Flowers are re-purposed and delivered. Again, Plum Sage can do this for you with our event strike services! 

Support Project Angel Heart, an organization that provides meals to individuals fighting a life-threatening illness, free of charge.

Adopt a US Soldier and send letters and packages to our troops who can’t get home for the holidays. Or, donate a teddy bear to the child of a deployed marine. For only $25, a teddy bear will be delivered with a recorded message from the parent when the paw is pressed. Awesome! 

Pay the parking meter for the next person (you know you love it when you pull up and there is time on the meter). 

Give some of your time (or hard goods) to your local soup kitchen. Try the Denver Rescue Mission or Grant Avenue Soup Kitchen.

Support the continuance of music education to our youth through the Fender Music Program. This program uses donations to provide instruments to school programs that are struggling due to budget cuts.

Give a gift to a small village abroad of a goat, chicken or cow through Heifer International  or think about Micro financing someone.  Small donations really go a long way here and these are gifts that really give back.  Try Project Have Hope, who “works with a group of 100 women in the Acholi Quarter of Uganda and helps them transform their lives and the lives of their families” through the sale of homemade beaded jewelry.

Volunteer or donate to Judi’s House (a Plum Sage local favorite). Judi’s House provides children and young adults support and group therapy during the bereavement process. Donations will fund their programming and house supplies, or you can sign up to bring a meal to feed the participating families one evening.

Volunteer or donate to the Denver Chapter of Girl’s Inc. (another Plum Sage local favorite). Girl’s Inc. is an organization that inspires young girls to be “Strong, smart and bold.” The lucky participants engage in after school activities and community outreach programs at our local chapter.

Donate on Colorado Gives Day, which will be December 10th this year. Pass on your cup of coffee and instead, donate the $3 to a local do-good!

Clean out your closet and donate any gently used coats to Coats for Colorado.

Help spread the word to prevent bullying! Stand For The Silent is traveling the country to spread the word to prevent tragedy and stop senseless “mean”.

Donate to the reforestation of Colorado. ReForest Colorado, which helps restore trees in communities affected by natural disasters and plants trees in areas that, in general, need tree cover; and Colorado Tree Trust (CTT), an endowment to secure funds for future tree planting and tree care projects.

Everyone shed a tear when we saw Facebook photos of Miles the “bat boy”, who’s wish was granted in San Francisco to be a super hero for a day. Support more of these amazing wishes via Make-A-Wish America.

Team up with Colorado’s Children’s Hospital on December 3rd for Giving Tuesday. Give to help kids “survive and thrive!”

Don’t like any of my suggestions? Try Volunteer Match. Volunteer match helps you find causes that you care about and matches you with organizations and people in need right in your area.  When I searched, there were 4188 listings!

I am headed to Thailand for two weeks… but when I get back I plan to put a few of these ideas in practice while I sing Christmas carols in the studio. Cheers to a joyous and generous holiday season! ~Rachel

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