Giving gifts to children

Have you felt disconnected during the pandemic? With scheduled social gatherings and even casual catch-ups with neighbors being so different this year, it can be hard to know how you can — or should — reach out to people over the holiday season.

Charitable giving is such a special and important part of the holidays, and it can give us the happiness boost we need during this time of social distancing. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ideas for how to spread holiday cheer safely during the pandemic.

1. Take advantage of rewards programs

You don’t have to write a check to give much-needed charitable donations. Many businesses make giving easy with matching or rewards programs.

The amount you end up donating may be small, but every single dollar counts. Businesses like Smith’s, Amazon Smile and Macey’s donate a portion of your purchase to a charity of your choice.

2. Try out some ideas on the Do Good Calendar

The November Do Good Calendar, created by Giving Tuesday, has an idea for doing good in the community every day of November.

Some of them are simple — like telling a coworker why you appreciate them — but some require a little more planning — like hosting a scarf and coat drive for your local shelter.

There aren’t many days left in November, so consider choosing just a couple to add to your calendar to help you get into the giving spirit.

3. Donate cash through our website

Our website has a safe and secure portal for giving cash donations, making it easy for you to give without having to leave your house.

Thanks to our community partnerships and grocery rescue program, we can stretch every dollar. For example, $1 can feed a family of four for a day, $36 can help a struggling senior for a month, and $96 can feed three children for nearly two months.

4. Host a Food Drive at Your School

It’s not too late to host a COVID-adapted food drive. We’re expecting an increase in requests for food assistance over the holidays, so any and all donations are much appreciated at this time.

Check out our tips for food drive success, and please note that we quarantine all donated food before it is sorted and distributed in order to keep our volunteers and clients safe.

5. Volunteer work

We rely on our incredible volunteers to operate our four food pantries.

We have many volunteer opportunities available, suitable for any schedule or situation.

Some of our long-term opportunities include being a Circles Ally, helping out with one of our community gardens in the spring, or assisting in the food bank. Some of our one-time opportunities include donating a meal for a Circles meeting, creating specialty kits, or offering financial coaching.

6. Participate in community events

Some of our favorite charitable giving opportunities might not be happening this year, but you can still create a fun event around your donations with your family.

There are plenty of community events to add to your calendar to help your family spread some holiday cheer:

  • through Nov, 23. This year, the effort is putting together kindness kits. Volunteers can do things like help tie quilts, fold and cut plastic grocery bags for sleeping mat weaving, and cut out fabric for others to make into clothing.
  • The annual Valley United Against Hunger Food Drive, a joint BYU–UVU effort, is still going on this year. You can donate

throughout November. Visit

to learn more about participating through BYU and

  • to learn more about participating through UVU.
  • Giving Tuesday is on Dec. 1, and the website has amazing ideas for giving as an

or as an

  • . Make a plan for you and your family to do something generous as part of the worldwide kindness movement on Dec. 1.

Charitable giving always makes the holidays special, and this year is no exception. Try a couple of our ideas for the season of giving to increase the sense of community and camaraderie in your family and community.

Happy holidays!

Karen McCandless is the executive director of Community Action Services and Food Bank in Provo. CASFB is located at 815 S. Freedom Blvd., Ste. 100.