Where to Make Meaningful Donations This Season

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Last year I was blown away by this community, and how you guys came together from near & far to fulfill over 100 holiday wishes of kids at a local shelter. It felt incredibly special to team up and make an impact together. This year, with the changing needs of our communities during the pandemic, I wanted to encourage supporting a cause that feels special to you, if you’re able.

While some organizations are still accepting in-person donations, many have new restrictions for Covid safety or are requesting gift cards instead, so be sure to confirm first. If you’re considering an organization that is new to you, you can look on Charity Navigator to get a better understanding of how donations are used. And if you’ll be making a monetary donation, don’t forget to check if your employer will match it!

I wanted to share a few suggestions below, and if you work with a charity doing great work this year, please share in the comments!

A Few Ideas for Giving Back Locally

  • Contributing to a local food bank – especially important this year with food insecurity on the rise
  • Donating gift cards (including grocery store gift cards) to a local women or kids shelter
  • Checking with local hospitals if they have an online wishlist for patients during the holidays
    • example benefiting MassGeneral Hospital for Children shared by a reader
  • Checking with local schools or low income daycares if they have classroom needs or online wishlists
    • example from a local daycare for homeless children shared by a reader

A few National & Boston-Specific Orgs

1. Feeding America

Millions of people were already struggling with hunger in the US, but with the ongoing pandemic there are more and more families now facing this reality. It’s estimated that 50 million people, including 17 million kids, may face food insecurity this year. Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization that works with a lot of local branches.

How to support: find your local food bank to contribute to, make a monetary donation ($1 can provide 10 meals to families in need), or volunteer (with Covid safety precautions).

2. Cradles to Crayons (Boston, Chicago & Philadelphia)

Cradles to Crayons provides essential items for children (from birth through age 12) living in homeless or low-income situations. This year, they also established an Emergency Essentials Fund to provide vulnerable families with diapers, hygiene products, school supplies and more during the pandemic. We were told that their families in need this winter have nearly doubled from what they were expecting.

How to support: Donate items from their Amazon wishlist, or drop off new or like-new children’s items to your local Giving Factory (find locations). Or, make a monetary gift to support their ongoing work – $33 supports 1 child. I also wanted to mention this charity has one of the highest ratings on Charity Navigator for financials & accountability / transparency.

3. Home for Little Wanderers

The Home supports Massachusetts children and families in at-risks situations through their various services, including housing and care for children in need, and helps prepare them to transition back to their families, on to their next home, or to independent living.
How to support: Adopt a family and fulfill their holiday wishes (via gift cards this year), or mail a gift card for one of the children on this list. Please read the fulfillment instructions linked under each page.

4. Boston Food Organizations

Greater Boston Food Bank, a local Feeding America branch, is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and works with a lot of smaller organizations within local neighborhoods and communities.

Food for Free, a Cambridge-based organization “rescues” food that would otherwise go to waste (i.e. from farms, universities, restaurants) and turns them into groceries and meals they distribute to in-need families, students, and people with disabilities.

Boston.com is keeping an updated running list of local organizations currently accepting food donations.

5. Room to Grow (Boston + NYC)

Room to Grow supports low-income families with babies from newborn to age three through a preventative three-year program, starting from the mother’s 3rd trimester of pregnancy throughout the baby’s first three years of life. Currently, some of their greatest needs are winter coats and accessories in baby & kids sizes up to 4T.

How to support: Purchase items from their Amazon wishlist, donate qualifying baby items via contactless drop-offs (more slots are being added for Boston this week) or via mail, or donate funds. I was told the NYC locations are currently accepting mail-in donations at their Bronx location only.

6. Casa Myrna

Casa Myrna is Boston’s largest provider of shelter and supportive services to survivors of domestic violence. In addition to their residential programs, their services provide over 1,600 survivors annually with tools to recover from the trauma of abuse and begin to build sustainable self-sufficiency. We were told the pandemic has made it an especially tumultuous year with a notable increase in those needing their services.

How to support: Gift cards (especially to Stop & Shop grocery stores) are their greatest need for distributing to those in their program, but you can also coordinate with Paola to donate new household & baby items for their residential programs or donate funds.

7. Rosie’s Place

Rosie’s Place is one of the first women’s shelters in the US, with a mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment to help women in need maintain their dignity, seek opportunity and find security in their lives. They assist approximate 12,000 women a year through wide-ranging support, housing and education services.

How to support: From their Support Our Work page – purchase items to stock their food pantry (items are purchased online and will be delivered directly to Rosie’s Place), donate & mail in a holiday gift cards, or put together a care package for Rosie’s Place guests.

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

When you purchase through the links on this blog, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!

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Leave a Comment


  1. Christie wrote:

    What a great post! Thank you Jean for sharing and spreading awareness for these amazing organizations. Excited to learn about even more in the comments! With so many nonprofits out there, it can be overwhelming to find the right one to support.

    That’s actually why my brothers and I started a nonprofit called Simply Donating. We provide an easy and fun option for donors to support the cause(s) they care about, rather than an individual charity. Donations are shared evenly with the fully vetted featured nonprofits in each category so donors can be confident their gift will have a positive impact! You can learn more at https://simplydonating.org/

    Like you, we are based in the Boston area, so we’ll also give a shoutout to Family Reach and Partners In Health, great nonprofits that are currently featured on our website in the Health cause!

    Posted 12.3.20 Reply
  2. Thanks for the Toy Drive feature, Jean! We’re also accepting monetary donations to support the Child Life program at MGHfC through our website, preemietopremed.org!

    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  3. I work for a meal delivery service in the Boston area called Weco Hospitality, and we are inviting people to donate Weco gift cards to charitable organizations this holiday season to give meals to families in need and organization volunteers. Weco will add 20% of the value of your gift card and donate along with your purchase.


    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  4. Linna wrote:

    This is wonderful – thanks for highlighting philanthropy in a post. I think it’s so important that if we are able, to give to the community, whether through financial contributions or volunteer work. I’ve seen so many wonderful local organizations step up to fight food insecurity, which has worsened during the pandemic, and to provide food for neighbors in need, whether they are stocking community fridges, food pantries, or rescuing food. A few of the organizations I support are:

    — City Harvest (https://www.cityharvest.org/) (rescues food and delivers it to food pantries, kitchens, and community organizations)

    — City Meals-on-Wheels (https://www.citymeals.org/) (delivers meals to frail elderly New Yorkers)

    — Food Bank NYC (foodbanknyc.org) (distributes food through soup kitchens and pantries and directly to community members)

    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  5. Rose wrote:

    Thank you for doing this, Jean! It is heartwarming to see someone using her influence in such a kind, generous way.

    Just want to add to the conversation:

    For a limited time you can make a donation to the Ecosia organization in someone’s honor to plant trees to fight hunger, for habitat restoration for animals, and/or to fight climate change: https://plant.ecosia.org/

    And this is NY Times columnist’s Nicholas Kristof’s super well-researched list of charities. Two for education, one that restores blind people’s sight by removing cataracts:

    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  6. Michelle wrote:

    Again this year we are donating a transition bag for the Foster Love Project (https://www.fosterloveproject.org/) So often kids enter the foster system with a few meager belongs thrown into a black trash bag. These bags are provided to kids as they enter the foster care system and give them a bit of dignity back.

    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  7. Sue Yee wrote:

    I just joined the board of non-profit, Chinatown Youth Initiatives (cyinyc.org), which is a youth-led organization that empowers and equips Asian American high school and college students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address the needs of Chinatown, Asian Americans, and other underrepresented communities. By providing a safe and supportive environment, CYI works to build a legacy of leaders who strengthen awareness of self-identity and community issues through project initiatives. We are doing a Giving Tuesday campaign to raise funds for summer stipends for our young leaders so that we eliminate any barriers to being involved!

    Posted 12.2.20 Reply
  8. Hi! My 8 year old son is doing his part of making this world a better place.  Anaik started a donor book program on his birthday to help Covid patients in isolation help find solace.  Anaik felt first hand how lonely this disease can be when many of his family members had to be quarantined and hospitalized as they battled Covid back in April.  Anaik found comfort in reading books during this time and wanted to provide this comfort to others in need. He is truly inspiring.  You can learn more about him at the Facebook page link here:


    To donate to the Phoenix Loving Library, check out the wish list at:

    To donate to the Houston Loving Library, check out the wish list at  www.houstonlovinglibrary.org

    Posted 12.1.20 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    Cradles to Crayons is also matching donations 1-1 up to $100,000 through the end of December!

    Posted 12.1.20 Reply
  10. Yna wrote:

    Such a wonderful list of organizations to support! I work for PIH, a Boston-based organization that believes quality health care is a universal human right. During the pandemic, our work of building strong health systems in communities that need it most has continued, and we’ve also responded to COVID globally and domestically. In Massachusetts specifically, we’ve been deploying teams of contact tracers and consulting with other states on their contact tracing programs. We hope you’ll consider supporting our work: pih.org

    Posted 12.1.20 Reply
    • Christie wrote:

      We agree with Yna! PIH is currently featured in the Health cause on our nonprofit’s website (Simply Donating) through December and then again in 2021!

      Posted 12.3.20 Reply

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