During a season of immense excitement and joy, it can be easy to forget there are so many who are hurting in our community. So many of our neighbors in the Ann Arbor area are facing the unimaginable: homelessness, addiction, hunger, domestic violence and other difficulties. But thankfully, there are many incredible organizations throughout Washtenaw County meeting those needs in tangible ways.
There are so many opportunities to give back this holiday season in the Ann Arbor area, from donating non-perishable food items and toys to volunteering to serve with a local organization. Read on to find out how you can get involved in these efforts!
Donate Winter Coats to the Annual Reinhart Coat Drive (Through November 30, 2022)
November is almost over — so there are only a few more days to contribute to the 26th Annual Reinhart Winter Coat Drive! Through November 30, you can bring your new or gently used coats to any of our Reinhart sales offices in Ann Arbor, Saline and Chelsea. Over the course of the coat drive’s 25-year history, Reinhart has collected more than 26,000 coats, all of which have been donated to agencies in our community. The need for winter coats, especially for children and plus-size adults, continues to be great — and our coat drive hopes to fill that need in our community as the weather gets colder. Click here to learn more about the Reinhart Coat Drive.
Food Gatherers is one of the largest and most well-known nonprofit organizations in Ann Arbor, working to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community. They distribute about 7.8 million pounds of food annually through 170 partners and programs serving Washtenaw County. Food Gatherers is always grateful for financial donations as it helps them continue their mission of feeding anyone and everyone in need in the area. And from November 29–December 3, they are hosting the Rockin’ for the Hungry Food Drive, their largest food and fund drive of the year. They will be broadcasting live on 107.1FM while collecting donations outside the Maple Road Kroger store. Your contributions of funds and/or non-perishable food will help Food Gatherers reach their goal of raising one million meals for Washtenaw County residents facing food insecurity!
Tuesday, November 29 is Giving Tuesday — and the perfect opportunity to get involved with Friends in Deed, which is hosting their Bed & Crib Drive on Tuesday to provide warm beds for struggling families. Some families are coming out of a homeless shelter or experiencing fires, floods or bedbug infestations — or resettling with their children after fleeing domestic violence. For every four beds donated through the program, Van Winkle Mattress Co. will give one bed! Click here for more information about the bed and crib drive.
Participate in Galens Tag Day (December 1–3, 2022)
Galens Tag Day is back for 2022! From December 1–3, about 100 medical students from the University of Michigan will be standing on street corners in downtown Ann Arbor to collect donations and give donors colored tags in exchange. Now in its 96th, the fundraiser is hosted by the Galens Medical Society, the largest and longest-running service and social organization for the university’s medical school. Funds raised during Tag Days will go towards a number of children’s charities, including the Children Literacy Network, Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation Program, and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Child & Family Life.
Getting in some exercise while supporting a wonderful cause? Count us in! The Holiday Hustle is a one-mile fun run and 5K in Dexter that has become one of our favorite family traditions in the area. Starting in Monument Park, the race allows participants to take in the neighborhood light displays and run in festive costumes while raising money for local organizations. $5 from each registration will be donated to local charities and race day participants can bring non-perishable food items to receive free raffle tickets. The 1-mile and 5K races start at 4 and 4:30 p.m., respectively, and there’s also a half marathon at 11 a.m. if you’re looking for more of a challenge! Click here for all the details about registration and pricing, including the new a la carte pricing model for 2022.
Hunger and food insecurity is one of the most pressing issues that needs to be addressed — and Meals on Wheels is actively meeting this need all throughout the country, including here in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels is a program of Community Health Services at Michigan Medicine bringing meals to the homebound in the area who are unable to shop and prepare complete, nutritious meals for themselves because of their health. And Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels delivers meals throughout Eastern Washtenaw County — with special holiday meals planned for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Volunteer to help provide this basic need in either Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti.
Hope Clinic does it all, including providing medical and dental services, free food, care and prayer to anyone who needs it throughout our county. Support their mission of providing free care for the whole person by contributing to their Hope for Tomorrow Campaign. This campaign aims to raise $5.5 million, which will more than double the number of clients served by 2025. The funds will be directed to the areas that constitute the greatest need, including dental care, behavioral and mental health care, and endowment. Learn more about the Hope for Tomorrow Campaign and get involved here!
We’ve all seen the jolly bell ringers stationed outside of grocery stores during the holiday season. Take part in the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign by volunteering to ring a bell at one of the many kettle locations in the area! Locations manned by volunteers always bring in the most money, so this is an excellent way to help the Salvation Army reach their fundraising goals for 2022. Speaking of, if you are unable to be a bell ringer, you can simply donate directly to the Salvation Army — it’s by far the best way to support their mission.
The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County at the Delonis Center provides temporary shelter and connections in a safe and caring environment. Since 1982, the organization has worked with a diverse range of people struggling with homelessness, including first-time homelessness, veterans, domestic violence survivors, and people battling substance abuse and/or mental health issues. The SAWC offers a variety of services, including shelter, a food kitchen, a free medical clinic, and more. And in the colder months, the SAWC serves an additional 550 people in their Warming Center. To help support their mission, you can donate to SAWC — or shop directly from their Amazon Wish List, for needed items such as bedding, gloves, socks, underwear, clothing, cleaning supplies, bath and body products, and more.
SOS Community Services is a community-based non-profit dedicated to preventing and ending family homelessness in Washtenaw County. They serve about 4,000 people annually, including families, individuals and children, using comprehensive services designed to take them from homelessness to self-sufficiency and permanent, stable housing. This holiday season, you can sponsor a family by purchasing gift cards so they can shop for holiday gifts this year. Purchase and donate gift cards ranging in value from $10-25 each from major retailers, such as Target, Meijer and Walmart. The goal is to provide 50 families in SOS programs with enough gift cards to buy $50 worth of gifts per family member! All gift cards should be turned in to SOS by the first week of December so they can be distributed in time for families to go shopping. Click here for more details — and other ways to get involved with SOS during the holiday season!
The Marine’s popular holiday charity, Toys for Tots, has a huge impact on Washtenaw County every year. In 2021, they distributed more than 18,000 toys throughout the area to more than 1,000 children, and they hope to distribute even more this year! Click here to learn about donating new, unwrapped toys to Toys for Tots in Ypsilanti.
Thank you for joining in the efforts of Reinhart and local organizations to support those in need this holiday season.
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