How to give back over the holidays

Matt Tadle, Staff Writer

The period between Thanksgiving and the New Year, dubbed the “Season of Giving,” is a time for donating and giving back to the community and those in need. Although the winter holidays are all about giving thanks to friends and family, it can be easy to forget that there are far less fortunate people in the world and in our community. Luckily, there are numerous organizations and local groups dedicated to making use of the season to give those in need a pleasant holiday.

“There’s a lot of people less fortunate than us. A small gesture of giving back can make such a big difference.” Ethan Morrow (’25) said. Morrow participates in local clothing drives and Peterson Lane Park cleanups.

Food for Others is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Fairfax, VA, specializing mainly in food and basic necessities distribution. The organization has been active since 1995, helping the unemployed and low-income families of Northern Virginia. Most of the organization’s food is acquired through food drives and general donations. This makes it perfect to donate during the holidays when Food for Others is most in need of contribution. The organization’s warehouse, located in Merrifield, VA, accepts food and non-food donations from Monday through Friday, between 9:30 A.M. and 5 P.M. More information can be found online at the Food for Others website.

Another well-known private nonprofit organization providing assistance in NOVA is Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS). NVFS also supports the City of Alexandria and Arlington, Loudoun and Prince William County with their many services such as homelessness and housing. The organization is continuing its Holiday Giving initiative, which includes “Operation Turkey,” providing Prince William County families with Thanksgiving meals. The initiative also includes “Gifting for Families,” which collects and distributes toys to thousands of children in Northern Virginia. during the holiday season. An easy way Virginians can get involved is by either donating funds, donating toys from a NVFS list, or donating gift cards.

More locally, Madison SGA began its annual Canned Food Drive in early November. Every year, the SGA partners with Food For Others with the sole purpose of collecting canned food and other essential non-food items for those who need assistance in the community.

“All cans the Madison SGA collects during the drive are donated to Food For Others,” SGA member Piper Boatwright (’24) said.

The drive runs until Dec. 13, with donations contributed through Advisory classes. Students are incentivized to donate by the point system created to award advisory classes that donate cans. Awards include Crumbl Cookie (150 points) and small and large Madison merchandise (300 and 450 points), as well as a pizza party for the Advisory class that collects the most cans. Each of Madison’s departments are competing in a March Madness-style bracket, with the department having collected the most cans winning the opportunity to make a music playlist which will play in the hallways.