The holiday season is known as a time to celebrate, but, more importantly, it’s a time to give. Whether you donate school supplies to an after-school program, foster a dog until it finds a more permanent home or write letters of encouragement to someone in need, it’s easy to translate your personal interests into the volunteer world. Here’s a list of a few of the many wonderful local organizations that need your help this holiday season.
LITERACY: WordPlay Cincinnati
Mission: WordPlay represents an engaging “third place” for children outside of school and the home where they can explore their creativity, build character and gain confidence through literacy and artistic expression.
What makes it unique: Utilizing kinesthetic learning, WordPlay is a safe and inspiring place where kids can show their creative side. Children work with volunteers to engage in project-based work that they can take home and display with pride.
How you can help: Volunteer. WordPlay is always looking for reliable long-term volunteers that can commit to helping as little as two hours per month with after-school tutoring, workshops or weekend programs. Basic school and art supplies are much appreciated as donations.
Contact: 4041 Hamilton Ave., Northside. wordplaycincy.org.
CRISIS REHABILITATION: Cincinnati Union Bethel’s Off the Streets program
Mission: Off the Streets works to rehabilitate women involved in prostitution by promoting safe, healthy and empowered lifestyle choices.
What makes it unique: Cincinnati Union Bethel has been caring for women in Cincinnati since 1830.
In the Off the Streets program, each woman is paired with a facilitator who has survived the streets. Since they share the same experience, it is a judgment-free environment where the women can feel comfortable sharing their stories and working together to create a new way of life.
How you can help: Share their story. Spread the news about this incredible organization, host a benefit such as a potluck dinner, organize an activity for the women, write them letters of encouragement or donate an item to the Voices of the Heart dinner auction which benefits the program.
Contact: 300 Lytle St., Downtown. 513-768-6930, cinunionbethel.org.
ANIMALS: Recycled Doggies
Mission: Recycled Doggies believes that amazing dogs are abandoned in shelters and left to die too often. This foster-based organization focuses on saving death row dogs at shelters.
What makes it unique: The volunteers at Recycled Doggies give abandoned dogs a little more attention and love than in most animal shelters. They socialize them and clean them up after the shelters abandon them, giving them a second chance to be a wonderful pet and friend to you.
How you can help: Become a doggy foster parent. Recycled Doggies does not have a shelter or facility, so they are always looking to grow the list of committed, dependable foster homes. Since this organization relies completely on donations to pay vet bills and medical expenses, buy food and keep the doggies in the rescue happy and healthy, monetary donations are much appreciated. Finally, you can also help by adopting. Adoption fee is $160, which includes all vaccinations, deworming, spray/neuter and microchipping.
Contact: 513-275-5842, recycleddoggies.com.
HOMELESSNESS: Mary Magdalen House
Mission: Serving nearly 2,000 guests each year, the Mary Magdalen House provides a safe, hospitable facility for people to shower, shave, brush their teeth, access a restroom, wash clothes, use a phone and receive messages and mail.
What makes it unique: The staff at Mary Magdalen House believes that dignity is the beginning of hope and treats everyone with respect. Even though their guests may not have a dime, they want every visitor to not only be able to access the basic essentials that most people often take for granted, but they want their guests to leave feeling like a million bucks.
How you can help: Donate. Donations of toiletries such as spray deodorant, razors, shampoo, soap and toothpaste would be very appreciated by the staff and guests of Mary Magdalen House. As temperatures drop, the guests would also be very grateful for donations of warm clothes and undergarments.
Contact: 1223 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-721-4811, marymagdalenhouse.org.
PEACE AND NON-VIOLENCE: Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center
Mission: The IJPC is a network of faith-based organizations and individuals who work to solve local and international issues of nonviolence and injustice.
What makes it unique: Offering and promoting many educational events and information sessions, this organization encourages people to be informed and peacefully active in society.
How you can help: Write letters of encouragement. IJPC encourages people to write cards to those who may be incarcerated or on death row this holiday season. IJPC hosts a St. Nick sale on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the center and would encourage everyone to come. A wide selection of alternative gifts from around the world and socially conscious gifts will be sold.
Contact: 215 E. 14th St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-579-8547, ijpc-cincinnati.org.