The year 2020 has been called many things and most have been negative. It has been a hard year for millions of people around the nation who have struggled to pay rent and afford food.
There is no better time than the holiday season to want to help those who are less fortunate. This is the season to give and whether it is through action or donation, there are many ways to help others who are in need.
Big companies especially should harness their ability to give back during the holidays. According to Vince Thompson, the founder, and CEO of the marketing agency MELT, companies could give back in several ways while still making money and it is one of the most vital things for them to take part in.
“Good will is good business,” Thompson explained. “To whom much has been given, much is expected. As we are all dealing with the many effects of COVID-19, working from home, and enduring the mental strain of these stressful, uncertain times, seeking to do good right now is one of the most important things a person or a company can do.”
Businesses globally, including American multinational clothing company Hanes, big-box retailer Wal-Mart, shipping giant DHL, e-commerce titan Amazon, and major airline Delta, are all acting on this philosophy and have given back to their community.
Socks are one of the most desired items at homeless shelters across the nation and Hanes is donating 200,000 pairs of socks to the Salvation Army this holiday season. The company has donated socks each year since 2009 and to this date has contributed 1.9 million socks to the less fortunate.
This year Hanes has expanded their efforts by placing collection bins in its 160 Hanesbrands outlet stores across the country which allow customers to donate socks they have bought. Store employees will distribute these socks to local nonprofit organizations.
“Walking a mile in someone’s shoes takes on a much different meaning when that person is homeless,” said Hanes chief branding officer, Sidney Falken. “Access to something as basic as a clean, dry pair of socks can literally save lives within our country’s homeless population.”
Wal-Mart, which has a history of honoring military servicemen and women, is running two initiatives this season that is aimed at helping veterans. Many of the company’s associates are veterans or are part of a military family.
“We feel it is the right thing to do,” said Blair Cromwell, a spokeswoman for the company. “It is something that benefits our company and community.”
Wal-Mart has a partnership with Wreaths Across America since 2007, which delivers wreaths to be laid on veteran graves across the nation each December. Wreaths Across America sponsors about 40,000 wreaths each year and donates the services of more than a dozen tractor-trailers to deliver the wreaths around the country. The company has given over $1.5 million in wreaths and almost $1 million in transportation to this day.
Wal-Mart also has a partnership with Operation Homefront, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to build strong and secure military families so they can thrive. The nonprofit has Holiday Meals for Military program that Wal-Mart supports by creating and transporting packaged meal kits. This year the big-box retailer will provide about 8,500 meals at 27 distribution centers nationwide.
Global logistics company DHL is also honoring the military through its Operation Holiday Cheer program which launched in 2004. On December 5th, DHL began delivering holiday spirit to American troops serving abroad by delivering about 500 Christmas trees, decorated with lights and ornaments. This year they sent the trees to soldiers in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Bahrain. DHL also delivers holiday letters, gifts, and menorahs.
“Operation Holiday Cheer is a chance for DHL to show our gratitude to our troops in a big way during this country’s most important holiday season,” said DHL Express U.S. CEO Greg Hewitt. “It is an important tradition for all of us in DHL — the chance to work with community partners and deploy our global shipping network — and one we look forward to every year. For me personally, it’s one of the best presents I receive, because it’s a chance to give the gift of thanks to our soldiers.“
Amazon has joined the giving festivities this year with a new initiative called Trucks Across America. As part of the program, 17 Amazon trucks will deliver items to families in need across the U.S. Items include winter clothing, household essentials, and toys for children and will be sent to over a dozen hyper-local nonprofits near Amazon fulfillment centers in cities across the nation. Some destinations include local children’s hospitals and local chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs.
Major airline Delta realizes how difficult it is for the homeless to sleep on the streets. Executives of the company have started The Executive Sleep Out to help raise awareness and raise funds for nonprofit organization Covenant House, which helps rescue homeless and trafficked youth and give them a second chance. Delta has given over $1 million to Covenant House since their partnership began.
Since 2013, Delta leaders spend a night on the street in the U.S. and Canada, using cardboard and sleeping bags as their beds, to show solidarity with homeless children. This year 13 executives slept outside on November 17th. They raised nearly $100,000 through sleep-outs in New York City, Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
The holidays are the time of year for celebration, family, friends, gratitude, and generosity. If you are wondering how you can also give back this year but can’t afford to make a donation, there are plenty of ways to help out that don’t cost a thing.
For example, cooking or baking food to be handed out to your local fire department, police station, or even elderly neighbors who are compromised because of COVID-19 is an easy way to give back.
You can also buy the cheap stockings and fill them for homeless people with items you have at home including water bottles, granola bars, toothpaste, and warm socks. Keep the stockings in your car and hand them out to homeless people you may encounter.
Now is also a great time to look over things you have at home that you may not need, including clothing and toys. This allows you to de-clutter and you can donate the items to a local shelter. You can also donate food you will not use such as canned foods, and non-perishable items, to a local ministry or food bank. These places are always in need of extra food around the holidays.
No matter how tough you think your life is, there is always someone who faces challenges that are even tougher than yours. Giving back is one of the most valuable things a person can do, especially around the holidays.