Amazing Kids! Magazine

A Time of Giving

By Stella Prince, AK Adventures Editor and Nonfiction Editor

The December holiday season can be thought of as a time not only of receiving but of giving. Many donations are given in the month of December. It is a wonderful time to give back to the community, to donate time or money. There are so many wonderful projects like Toys for Tots, food pantry drives and clothing and coat drives. There are fundraising holiday benefits happening all over. There is also the opportunity to create a project in a do-it-yourself kind of way.

For the past four years, I have been donating gifts to the Children’s Cancer Wing at Albany Medical Center. They are always so thrilled to see all of the toys I have for them, and I really enjoy doing it. I phone, email or go to local stores and talk to them about what I am doing, and show them some photos of my previous annual donation days at the hospital. Usually I collect over sixty or seventy toys to donate. Our community is very generous, and people really seem inspired to give and seem so happy to be included in this kind of project. So since the age of eleven, I have been fortunate to be able to experience giving back for the holidays.

But one doesn’t have to go all the way to Albany in order to give back– you can always volunteer and donate in the Rondout Valley area. One of my all-time favorite spots to visit over the holiday season is the Animals For Adoption dog shelter in Accord. They love visitors, and the work is easy. You can give treats to the dogs, walk them, or just play with them indoors. It makes one feel good and the shelter and the dogs benefit from it, too. Animals For Adoption is a no-kill shelter, and they get most of their animals from the South (Arkansas and the Carolinas). My family and I have adopted three dogs from them so far, and we will always come back for more. You can visit them here at: www.animalsforadoption.org, or call them at: 845-687-7619.

One lovely place to visit is Diana’s Cat Shelter, also conveniently located in Accord. They have dozens of adult cats that are well taken care of, but are constantly in need of food and litter donations. Diana keeps the cats in a cute back room with toys and climbing structures, and it is a nice organization to visit. You can call her here at: 845-626-0221.

Kingston is also a good place to volunteer. There is Caring Hands– a soup kitchen and food pantry located in the Clinton Avenue United Methodist Church– and Family of Woodstock, which is always looking for donations. Family of Woodstock is a Social Services agency, but they also accept donations. It is one of my favorite places to donate. Last winter I actually put together care packages for the homeless and dropped them off there. I put a sandwich, a pair of socks, and a hat in each bag– a helpful winter necessities kit. Gloves, scarves and protein bars could also be good to include. It is a very helpful, yet easy project. You can also donate to Family of Woodstock online, by phone, or by mail. You can call Caring Hands at: 845-331-7188, and visit Family of Woodstock here: www.familyofwoodstockinc.org.

Another place to visit in the Hudson Valley is an old-age home or retirement community. Woodland Pond in New Paltz is a wonderful place where you can volunteer. And if you play an instrument, it might be nice to perform around the Hudson Valley. Many retirement communities love to have people come. I actually had the opportunity to sing with friends this past summer at different old-age homes in the area. We sang ten different songs at Arbor Ridge in Rhinebeck, Woodland Pond in New Paltz, The New Paltz Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, and a few other local spots. All you have to do is call them and ask to speak to a director or manager. Then, set a date and you have a concert lined up!

So whether you want to help animals or humans or both, you very easily can. Any time over your winter break, you can stop by an animal shelter or a soup kitchen and donate whatever you can to help others have a good holiday. You can really help make a difference.

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