How to Give Back this Holiday Season
Brighten the holidays for moms in need in your community
For many of us, the holidays are a time to celebrate and gather with loved ones. We travel, indulge in delicious food and exchange gifts. But for some moms, this season isn’t so merry and bright. Illness, job loss, lack of family support and so many other challenges can make day-to-day life tough. These challenges are then highlighted further when contrasted with all the celebrations and abundance during the holidays. That’s why we hope to make this holiday season a little brighter for moms in need—and we want to encourage you to do the same within your community and beyond. Here are some simple ways to give back.
Donate breast milk
If you’re pumping and have an oversupply, consider giving that extra breast milk to a milk bank or another mom in need. Medically fragile or premature babies, as well as adoptive parents, moms who have an undersupply or those may not be able to breastfeed due to health issues, would greatly appreciate this incredible gift. Find a milk bank near you or contact a nearby hospital and learn about their donation requirements. You’ll likely have to go through a screening interview and submit bloodwork, as well as follow specific cleaning and milk storage guidelines. If you choose to go the route of informal, mom-to-mom donations, check the Facebook pages “Human Milk for Human Babies” and “Eats on Feets” (add your state to the name when searching to connect with local moms).
Give baby clothes
Especially if you live in an area that gets frigid temps and snow, baby clothing provides warmth in the winter months. Flip through the clothes your baby has outgrown, discard anything with holes or stains and organize by size before donating. You could also pick up a few new outfits for donation while you’re browsing holiday sales. Winter gear like coats, hats, mittens and boots, as well as warm sleep sacks, are also much-needed and much-appreciated.
Share baby items
Think about the basics you use every day: diapers, wipes, bottles, perhaps formula if you’re supplementing. Donating those necessities relieves so much stress for moms who are facing a tight budget this holiday season. If you don’t plan to save your baby gear for another child, pass along your strollers, cribs, pack-n-plays and car seats. Items will have to be clean, in good working order and not expired. Before donating, always check with the organization to make sure they accept a certain type of item, as some have specific guidelines.
Donate unused supplies
A great way to directly support breastfeeding moms? Donate your unused breast pump supplies, like extra parts, storage bags and other breastfeeding must-haves. While we swear by the convenience of having tons of extra storage bags and containers, if you have an oversupply or you’re no longer using them, give them to a mom who could benefit from your generosity. You could also consider buying a new manual pump if the organization confirms it would be helpful to the moms it serves.
Serve a meal
Holidays and comfort food seem to go hand in hand. Sign up to provide a warm meal for families in need. A local shelter or community space for moms will often welcome volunteers to bring in groceries, prepare food and serve a meal. Go a step beyond and spend some time around the table with these fellow moms. Some mom-to-mom support and good conversation go a long way in building connections and making the holidays seem a little more special. If you have older children, call ahead and ask if they can join you. It will be a great way to get your kids involved and teach them about the importance of giving back.
Where to find organizations that serve moms and children
Dropping off used clothes and items at Goodwill is fine, but your giving can have a more direct impact when done through specific charities that work with moms and children. Look for a local organization, such as a pregnancy center, shelter or hospital, that is accepting donations. If a quick Google search doesn’t yield great results, ask friends or post in your local social media moms group for suggestions on where to donate. Many churches, daycares and schools also have collection bins, drives or service projects at this time of year and might be looking for baby items. Or perhaps you would like to head up your own collection with friends or a moms group!
Here are a few national organizations that support moms and have connections with local nonprofits in many major cities:
- National Diaper Bank Network, which includes Help a Mother Out: provides diapers for families in need
- Good+Foundation: gives essential goods and services to low-income families
- Toys for Tots: spreads holiday joy by gifting toys to less fortunate children
- Project Night Night: provides blankets, books and stuffed animals to homeless children (new items only)
- Newborns in Need: gives care necessities to agencies and hospitals serving premature, ill or impoverished babies
- Ronald McDonald House: keeps families together while their children are hospitalized by providing housing, home-cooked meals, toys and resources
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: accepts used cell phones and electronics, which are refurbished and sold to generate funds for programming
If you don’t have physical items to donate, monetary donations and volunteer time are also impactful ways to contribute to a nonprofit’s mission and help those in need.
Having support is a necessary part of this journey called motherhood. Whether it’s through lending a helping hand, giving a thoughtful gift or simply being there for a fellow mom, your generosity will have a much bigger impact than you realize. At the heart of it, we are all moms and we all want what’s best for our children. Our team at The Lactation Network works to help as many moms as possible, this season and every season.