Spreading Holiday Cheer

 Spreading Holiday Cheer

St. Vincent de Paul reminds Cincinnati that the best way to spread holiday cheer is helping the less fortunate
Cassie Lipp Just like there are many ways different ways to celebrate the holiday season, St. Vincent de Paul-Cincinnati provides many opportunities to help out those in need during the most wonderful time of the year.

The easiest way to get involved right now is to clean out coat closets and bring gently used coats, hats, gloves or scarves to your local Gold Star Chili or Kemba Credit Union. SVDP hopes to collect 2,000 coats now through Jan. 11.

Want to provide even more necessities to those who need our help? You can donate to SVDP’s Food from the Heart program, which provides meals to families in need throughout the holiday season. Drop off non-perishable food items in collection bins at Kroger locations across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. You may also donate food items directly to SVDP. The nonprofit’s Thanksgiving and Christmas food distributions feed about 1,200 families each.

“People think of the holidays as a time to spend with their family. We all take a moment to be thankful for the gifts that we have, our family and the people around us,” says Larry Shields, director of community relations for SVDP Cincinnati. “People think about folks that may not be as fortunate and want to do something to give them an experience that is similar to theirs or can help lift people up.”

SVDP’s holiday programs assist 3,500 families around the Cincinnati area. Other holiday programs include the Christmas Together program, in which donors work to fulfill wish lists put together by families in need. “These wish lists are not extravagant things. It’s very tangible items that the family can enjoy together. It’s that blanket, it’s those new sheets, the new pots and pans and dishes or something that makes a family whole and connects together,” says SVDP Cincinnati Outreach Center Program Manager Andy Levers. “It’s a great way for people who are looking for a way to think beyond themselves and be a part of something greater.”

SVDP also takes new toy donations for its Christmas Angel Toy Program. During this program parents can “shop” through donated toys while their kids make holiday crafts with SVDP volunteers. The organization also looks for individuals to volunteer over the holidays. Volunteer duties include a wide variety of jobs, all of which are based on the volunteers’ level of comfort. Volunteers can help sort donations and put together baskets, or work directly with clientele by handing out and delivering items or supervising the craft table during the Christmas Angel Toy Program. There is no shortage of opportunities to get involved—during the holidays nearly 500 volunteers provide over 2,000 hours of service to SVDP. Why not make an afternoon of volunteering a new family holiday tradition?

“The holiday season is a great time for people to help out in their community. We get a wide range of volunteers, from Fortune 500 companies to volunteers who might be struggling just like the people we are serving,” Levers says. “To me it’s a great snapshot of humanity because you have multimillionaires who are working alongside somebody who might not even have a dollar in their pocket, and you can’t tell the difference.”

Visit svdpcincinnati.org/give_help/holiday_opportunities/ to learn more about assisting SVDP this holiday season.