You've probably made some special purchases to donate to a local food bank for the holidays ... many school projects, libraries, service clubs and others organize a special display asking for "holiday dinner" items. If you've made a holiday donation already, thank you. Whether your donation is for a large holiday dinner at the community center or for baskets donated to individuals and families, all gifts are needed and appreciated.
As our community is digging out from the first big storm of the winter (and two snow days this week) as well as preparing for Christmas break, try to remember what happens at your house when the kids are home from school: they snack all day long, sometimes quite late into the evening. For the clients of the local food bank, this "growing kid with the hollow leg" syndrome can be a major source of stress.
So, if you have time, pick up a few "doubles" of whatever your kids munch on all day long, and drop it off at the food bank. The need is there, in every community across the country, and your contributions at this time of the year are especially appreciated.
Every community has different needs, so a phone call might be in order to determine the greatest needs in your community. Some food banks welcome pet food and other pet supplies like kitty litter; other food banks do not. As a rule, personal care items are very welcome: shampoo & conditioner, bath soap and hand soap, deodorant, shaving cream and razors, feminine hygiene supplies, hand and body lotion, as well as dental care items (toothpaste, denture cleaner, toothbrushes).
If you have the spare cash and time, laundry and cleaning supplies, paper goods like bathroom tissue and facial tissue, etc., are generally welcomed at most food banks. Again, if you are in doubt, a phone call to confirm specific needs only takes a minute.
Of course, a good deed is its own reward, but there may be tax benefits to you for your donations to food banks. Be sure to check with a tax professional, but charitable donations are "deductible" whether or not you itemize on your personal tax return; many states have extra state income tax considerations for food bank donations.
Besides, you're helping people in your community, children at your child's school, working families, out-of-work families, people who were donors last year who now line up for food assistance. It only takes a few minutes of your time, and a couple of dollars can go a long way.