Happy #givingtuesday! I have so much great information to share! This blog post has been in the making for quite a while. I have long desired to passionately choose a charity each year for my family and I to support, especially around the holidays. But I often get overwhelmed with all the choices (I am already terrible at making decisions), so I dream...and help nobody. But this year, I dug my heels in and did some research. This is by no means an exhaustive list of local charities; it is simply an idea board to give you some direction in ways you can help your community. You're going to want to read all the way to the end...
It doesn't take much for me to get in the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving; Christmas tree lights always improve my mood! I asked around for personal recommendations of local charities that other people are a part of, are passionate for, and with whom people love to work. Here is a short list of local charities from my brief inquiry and their needs that you can give to in this, the season of giving. There are so many ways to help from where you sit now, or if you are more of a get up and go type, you can involve your family in serving as well!
The Organization: Completely Kids (Omaha)
What do they do? An Omaha organization that addresses "the challenges of more than 2,000 Omaha kids and families living in poverty." Read more about what they do here.
What do they need this season? Completely Kids has an end-of-year campaign with a goal of $100,000. To learn more about it or to donate, click here.
The Organization: COPE (Elkhorn)
What do they do? "The vision of COPE is to build relationships with families and individuals in Western Douglas County so they may keep their dignity during difficult times in their lives by providing resources for both short-term and long-term support that increases self-sufficiency of our neighbors."
What do they need this season? Diapers and bigger sizes of underwear are a big need; for specific sizes, please contact Nancy here. COPE helps families and individuals with rent/utility assistance but this is not possible when funds get low; if you can give a monetary gift, that is their greatest need and you can do so without even getting up right here! If you aren't able to help in those ways, read about alternate options here.
The Organization: GracePoint Institute (Elkhorn)
What do they do? GracePoint is a locally owned counseling practice, specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy, that has begun to grow a fund to further its reach with ministerial care. While the shepherd seeks to care for its flock, GracePoint seeks to provide care for the shepherd and the shepherd's family.
What do they need this season? You can donate to this mission by choosing them as your charitable organization when you shop on Amazon here or by donating monetary gifts on their website here.
The Organization: Embrace Grace (Bellevue Christian Center and Wildewood Christian Church)
What do they do? Embrace Grace offers programs that provide spiritual, emotional and physical support to girls with an unplanned pregnancy. This is a program that is offered nationwide but it is up to local individuals and churches to provide the manpower (or womanpower), space and assistance to meet needs here in Omaha.
What do they need this season? Both Embrace Grace programs in Omaha (linked above) are in need of monetary funds to provide care and invest in relationships with those that come to their door. Click here to donate to the Bellevue Embrace Grace program and contact Kristina Siebrandt to donate to the Wildewood Christian Church Embrace Grace program. Both programs are also thankful for donations in the form of clothing, furniture, formula and other mom/baby items; to coordinate these donations, please contact Erin Anthony (Bellevue) and Kristina Siebrandt (Wildewood).
The Organization: Open Door Mission (Omaha)
What do they do? Just about everything; they literally have over 40 programs available for individuals and groups to get involved with! Click here to read about them!
What do they need this season? Check out their donate page here to give a monetary gift - every $2.15 provides a hot meal for an individual and, as the website points out, hope for someone who needs it. Also on their donate page, you will see a link to a list of donations they could use, as well as an Urgent Needs list.
The Organization: Small Voices (Lincoln)
What do they do? Small Voices is a child advocacy center, whose workers come alongside children and families who have been affected by child abuse. Their services begin with an initial evaluation of each case's needs and continue with ongoing support, education and care. To read about the many services they offer, click here.
What do they need this season? Click here for their Wish List, click here to donate, and click here to read about ways you can get involved by volunteering your time.
The Organization: Casting for Recovering Nebraska
What do they do? Provide "outdoor, healing retreats for women with breast cancer at no cost to the participants."
What do they need this season? You can give in three separate ways: click here to donate toward the cost of these retreats, click here to get information on how to volunteer with this effort, and click here for ways to shop while supporting Casting for Recovery Nebraska!
The Organization: AMVETS Nebraska
What do they do? I can't write it any better: "To enhance and safeguard the entitlements for all American Veterans who have served honorably and to improve the quality of life for them, their families, and the communities where they live through leadership, advocacy and services."
What do they need this season? Monetary support for the many services they provide our veterans. Click here to give your gift online and make sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to see a status update on reaching their monetary goal!
The Organization: Project Wee Care (Millard)
What do they do? Run by volunteers and the Millard Business Community Foundation, "Project Wee Care" was formed to provide food, clothing and gifts for families in the area who for whatever reason may not have a Merry Christmas." Check out their Impact information here.
What do they need this season? Food, clothing, shoes, blankets, books and school supplies. To get involved, contact Project Wee Care here.
The Organization: Food Bank for the Heartland (Omaha)
What do they do? This organization has a beautiful vision: "To eliminate hunger in our community." To understand how they are going about it, read here.
What do they need this season? Your participation. This flier is what sparked this great big blog post in my mind and inspired me to contact a bunch of local organizations. The Shine the Light on Hunger campaign is an exciting collaboration of giving between the Food Bank for the Heartland, the Conagra Brands Foundation, and you in hopes to raise the equivalent of 1.5 million meals this season! Conagra is matching up to $100,000 from a portion of admission fees ($10 each) to the Capitol District Ice Rink at 10th and Capitol Avenue - read more about it on the flier. In addition, Baker's Supermarkets is matching donations made at their stores up to $50,000. On top of all that, WoodmenLife is matching donations made to the Food Bank on Giving Tuesday (11/20/18 - that's today).
I hope you grab hold of these opportunities to give into our community. I want my kids to see me using my talents to serve others, to think outside of myself. So here is that brilliant special I promised...
Next Friday, November, 30th, I will be hosting a limited number of Holiday Lights Mini Sessions in the Old Market near the Gene Leahy Mall, with a goal of contributing all profit proceeds to the Shine the Light on Hunger campaign. I have wanted to do this for so long and I'm banking on you wanting to help me!
I will be releasing more information about booking later today, so email me to reserve your session! You probably had your family photos already taken this year and if so, I am still talking to you (also, good job)! Book a session knowing that you are supporting those in need this holiday season and have some beautiful memories captured at the same time! Afterwards, walk around the Old Market and enjoy the sights, tastes and atmosphere of Omaha, Nebraska, home of the good life. Until then, happy giving!