If anyone knows where 2013 went, please let me know! The holiday season is already here. As mothers, we’re all busy with our families, holiday cards, cleaning, travel plans, meal planning, parties, work…did I say cleaning, and holiday shopping? If there’s one important thing that’s left off of that list, it’s making it a point to do something, even just one small thing, to help other mothers who are in need this holiday season.
There are many ways to help. Here are three that caught my eye.
Alpha House of Tampa is a nonprofit organization that provides housing to pregnant women and their children. It’s mission is to offer “homeless pregnant women and mothers with young children safe housing and the tools they need to become self-sufficient and effective responsible parents.” It’s what we all strive to be, isn’t it?
How to Help:
When I first read about Alpha Angels Holiday Gift Giving Program, I immediately felt compelled to help. It’s a way to donate gifts to children and mothers, but the program also focuses on the true spirit of giving and family during the holiday season.
“Our moms can learn how to manage a budget, set priorities and establish reasonable expectations for their children during the holidays,” according to the Alpha House website. “Besides requesting donations towards holiday gifts, we encourage volunteers to help our families decorate, bake cookies, make ornaments or a number of other fun projects.”
Also, Alpha House will give anyone who wants to help a wish list for the mothers it serves. For children, Alpha House asks donors for a small gift and a $50 gift card so that the child’s mother can shop for him or her.
Alpha House is in need of donations throughout the year. It has compiled two wish lists. The first list is of basic items, such as instant food and snacks, bed linens, diapers, pacifiers, gently used car seats, and new infant clothing, just to name a few. The second list is of small gifts Alpha Houses gives to its teen girls as rewards for good behavior. This list includes items that make all of us ladies feel good! Jewelry, makeup, purses, lotion sets, and shower gels are among the feel good items on the list. Alpha House says their reward system helps its teens moms develop responsibility.
Alpha House also accepts cash donations and gift cards. For more information or to offer help, call (813) 875-2024.
Metropolitan Ministries serves homeless and poor families in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, and Polk Counties. And if you weren’t aware, the organization says the rate of homelessness per capita in the Tampa Bay area is one of the nation’s highest. Families are feeling it the most. Metro Ministries, also a nonprofit, says they’ve seen the need for services grow threefold, by an incredible 325 percent over the past five years. And the holidays are the busiest time of year for the faith-based charitable organization.
Metro recently opened MiraclePlace. It allows them to help twice as many people, many of them homeless mothers and children. MiraclePlace is also to home to the Partnership School, which addresses the needs of elementary students who would otherwise be homeless. There’s also a state-of-the-art daycare center and Education Center that accommodates 154 children. The new transitional housing facility also includes 1,300 square feet of indoor play space for the kids. I got the chance to visit MiraclePlace when it was under construction and even then, I could feel the hope and promise.
There are several simple ways to help the struggling women and children, and many times men, who are helped by Metropolitan Ministries. You can donate food, host a holiday donation drive, or volunteer.
You can bring donations of food and/or toys to one of Metro Ministries’ holiday tents. Donations are also accepted at several churches in the area.
Host a Food Drive:
Get your co-workers involved and use your connections to collect donations that can help put a delicious holiday meal on the table for Tampa Bay area families in need of assistance. Metro Ministries is receiving more requests for help this year! Consider holding the drive at your place of worship, as well.
Your time and service are priceless!! Call (813) 209-1200 to offer your volunteer time.
Operation Christmas Child:
The non-profit organization Samaritan’s Purse sponsors Operation Christmas Child. The holiday fundraiser collects donations to send to children all over the world in 130 countries.
Volunteers here in the Tampa Bay area are packing shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, and hygiene items to send to mothers and children internationally. The local goal is to pack 36,000 shoe boxes this holiday season. Seventeen locations across the Tampa Bay area are accepting donations. Operation Christmas Child has helped more than 100 million boys and girls over the past 10 years. Operation Christmas Child can be reached at (828) 262-1980.
However you decide to help can mean the world for a family in need … There’s a beautiful poem by Maya Angelou titled “Woman Work.” It’s about the daily stresses of being a mother and taking care of a household. Halfway through the poem, the busied mother reveals that the beauty of nature is her relief. I believe that giving of ourselves to help others can give us that same feeling of solace, especially during the holidays.
“Woman Work,” by Maya Angelou
I’ve got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I’ve got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.
Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.
Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
‘Til I can rest again.
Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.
Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You’re all that I can call my own.