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During this divisive political era it sometimes seems like everyone has taken sides in a never-ending fight. That’s why preparing for the upcoming winter holidays can feel like the perfect way to try to temporarily forget about online and personal political arguments. And while this attempt to spend time with loved ones in a non-judgemental way doesn’t always work out, it’s valuable and necessary to take time to decompress. However, it’s vital to bear in mind that not everyone has the ability to do so. For those experiencing homelessness or poverty, the holidays aren’t a respite. In fact, they can pose an added financial or mental burden. The Human Rights Campaign reported in 2017 that the LGBTQ community experiences homelessness at a rate 120 percent higher than those who are heterosexual and cisgender.
“LGBTQ youth aren’t the only population thata disproportionately experience homelessness,” said a recent HRC report. “Other young adult populations experiencing disproportionate rates of homelessness include Black and African-American youth, Hispanic non-white youth, unmarried parenting youth, youth with less than a high school diploma or GED certificate and youth reporting annual household income of less than $24,000.”
That’s why it’s imperative for everyone who is able to take the time during this year’s holiday rush to pause for a moment and give back. A small gesture like donating canned food, an afternoon at a soup kitchen or even decorating a community center can do wonders for the morale and well-being of many in Southeast Michigan and beyond. For those who don’t know where to start, here’s a list of 6 ways, big and small, that you can spread holiday cheer to those in need around the community.
1. Start a fundraiser for a local charity.
Collecting charity donations via a quick yard sale or even knocking on a few doors in the community doesn’t have to take longer than an afternoon, and it could ensure that someone has a hot meal this holiday season. There are also a myriad of online options to raise much-needed funds.
2. Donate canned goods.
If fundraisers aren’t your thing, consider cleaning out the cabinets of extra canned goods or picking up a few extra boxes of your regular non-perishables items while on a grocery run to donate.
3. Spend time at a senior center.
A University of California, San Francisco study found that 40 percent of seniors regularly experience loneliness. Help to combat that by spending time at your local senior center.
4. Donate gently worn clothing.
Studies show that not only do most people not wear most of their clothes but they aren’t aware of how much space those unworn items are taking up in their closets. On your next laundry day do yourself a favor, and take a few minutes to separate out those shirts and pants you only wore once. Donating it to someone who needs clothing will not only make you feel good but you’ll make space for the items you actually like to wear.
5. Tutor a student.
For the 2.5 million homeless children in America school can be a last priority. However, a great avenue to breaking the cycle of homelessness can be education. Take an hour or two out of your week to help out kids in need at your local school or library.
6. Volunteer at a hospital.
Hospitals are constantly flooded with patients and can use any and every able-bodied person’s help to make hospital stays better.
In this issue of BTL we highlight four LGBTQ-specific organizations that need volunteer support. There are hundreds more listed in the Pride Source Magazine in print and online at https://www.pridesource.com/psyp. We encourage readers to consider donating some time and energy to any one of these groups. Giving time, talent or treasure is a rewarding way to connect and support others who may be in more need than ourselves. It is also the true essence of the holiday season.