Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

5 ways to help families in need this holiday season

Extend the great spirit of giving beyond your home this month and donate or volunteer together as a family

Parents are operating at full throttle in December, rushing through stores to find the items on their kids' holiday wish lists and planning for elaborate family dinners. For those who are struggling to make ends meet, however, the holidays are one of the most difficult times of year.

Extend the great spirit of giving beyond your home this month and donate or volunteer together as a family; there’s no better way to impart altruism to your kids. From easy tasks such as donating food, toys and clothes to more in-depth volunteering such as adopting a family, here are five ideas that will help make the holidays a little brighter for families in our community.

1.     Adopt a Family in Need
Adopting a family is a powerful way to give, as kids see the variety of ways that others need help. The YWCA has a robust Adopt-a-Family program; toys, gift cards and grocery gift cards go directly to families who have faced poverty, violence or homelessness. Drop off items between Dec. 8 and 15 at YWCA sites in Seattle, Issaquah, Redmond, Everett, Lynnwood or Renton (specific dates and times vary by location).

2.     Donate Cookie Dough and Hot Cocoa
Calling all bakers! If you have an annual tradition of making cookies, purchase a few extra rolls of refrigerator cookie dough — or bag up some of your unbaked homemade dough — to donate to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. The women and children who use their shelters will be able to do some holiday baking. Hot cocoa is also in need; the rescue van takes it out on the streets to help homeless people endure the elements.

3.     Contribute to Hopelink’s Giving Rooms 
Take an opportunity to help thousands of local children who receive gifts through Hopelink’s Giving Rooms, where parents hand-select donated toys and other items they know their children will love (Seahawks gear, anyone?). Host a drive among family and friends, or purchase some gifts from the online wish list and deliver them by Dec. 15 to your nearest Hopelink center (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Shoreline and Carnation).

4.     Volunteer at the Holiday Carousel
The Holiday Carousel in Westlake Plaza runs through Jan. 1 and volunteers of all ages are needed to greet riders, collect donations and sell tickets. The money benefits Treehouse, which provides education and enrichment for foster kids. Bundle up and enjoy a magic evening downtown for a good cause.

5.     Collect Food for Your Neighborhood Food Bank

Visit the website of your neighborhood food bank for their most-needed donation list and take the family out grocery shopping. There are lots of sales to be had around the holidays for nonperishable food items; your kids can help find what you need. The Food Bank @ St. Mary's, in Seattle's Central District, seeks food donations and groups of families to help sort contributions and distribute food to customers.

Visit for more family holiday giving ideas.

About the Author

Taryn Zier