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How You Can Give Back This Holiday Seaosn

2020 will soon be coming to a close. While many of us will be celebrating the end of this unprecedented year, not everyone will be taking part in the holiday festivities. Across the United States, communities are suffering from lack of access to medical care, lack of food, lost job wages, and more thanks to the coronavirus pandemic — as well as our country's systemic racism and other structural inequities. This holiday season presents the perfect opportunity for us to practice KROST’s mission of giving back to those who need it the most. Instead of simply getting gifts for your loved ones, you can also donate, provide aid, and help support charities who are directly helping some of the most important causes across the country. Check out the following organizations and funds to find some of the best places to give back this holiday season.

How we can give back right now:

Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Santa from children and families arrive at Post Offices around the country. Most letters ask for toys and games. Some ask for basic necessities. Some ask for help for themselves and their loved ones. USPS Operation Santa makes it possible for individuals and organizations to acquire these letters and send responses and thoughtful gifts in Santa’s place. Simply visit the Operation Santa site, find a letter that speaks to you, shop for the right gift, and package it according to the site’s guidelines. One simple gift can make all the difference in a child’s or family’s Christmas.

Many COVID-19 relief funds are still in need of donations right now, but two of the biggest populations at risk and on the frontlines are restaurant workers and migrant farm workers. The Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation is operated by restaurant workers and distributes funds directly to individual restaurant workers as well as to keep restaurants up and running. You can also donate to WeCount!, which established the first COVID-19 rapid response fund for undocumented and immigrant workers. They’ve given nearly $200,000 in direct financial payments to hundreds of families since the beginning of the pandemic, and have provided medical support, food access, and housing for undocumented people.

One Warm Coat is a national nonprofit that works to create awareness of the vital need for warm coats across the country. This is an issue that is especially timely for the season, and One Warm Coat is the only national organization supporting coat drives. The organization accepts financial contributions in addition to collecting coats, and boasts that each dollar donated warms one child or adult. No one should be cold this winter -- when you can make such a huge difference with such a small contribution, there’s no reason not to give back.

If you’re specifically interested in helping LGBTQ+ people in need of disaster relief, you can donate to The Trans Disaster Relief Fund, created by the Transgender Foundation of America. This fund helps transgender and nonbinary people recover from catastrophic events, including natural disasters and diseases like COVID-19.

This is a cause that is especially close to KROST’s heart. Our friends at Food Bank For New York City have been working to end food poverty in the five boroughs for over 36 years. As the city’s largest hunger-relief organization, they employ a multifaceted approach centered on helping low-income New Yorkers overcome their circumstances and achieve greater independence. The organization accepts contributions in numerous ways, but even monetary donations as little as $1 can help provide 5 meals to New York City’s most vulnerable.

Incarcerated people in jails and prisons have faced the most devastating health disparities during the pandemic and have continued to be some of the most vulnerable to the disease. Restore Justice is among the organizations looking to help incarcerated people right now and is accepting donations to purchase N95 masks for people behind bars. In addition, Black and Pink, a prison justice organization advocating for LGBTQ+ incarcerated people, is providing funding to incarcerated queer and transgender people who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Donations go toward hygienic supplies, food, medical supplies, and phone and video calls with loved ones.

The holidays are typically a joyful time spent with friends and family, giving thanks and looking forward to another year. But this holiday season will be noticeably different from years past. It can be hard to confront the uncomfortable inequities in our society. But rather than ignore the hardships faced by our community, we can instead take joy in helping those in need.