Here, we highlight a few of the ways you can help local folks in need this holiday season.
Love Your Mother
What they do: Heal the Planet is a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring people to live a more abundant and sustainable life—and teach them about the power of their daily choices. “Children are the hope for our future,” says executive director Noelia Suarez. “Our flagship program, the SEED [Sustainable Energy Education] Project, provides youths with life tools for living a more mindful and just life.”
How you can help: Join gardening projects and beach, reef, and waterway cleanups. You also can teach kids about the benefits and tools of a sustainable life and be a tour guide at Snyder Park’s organic edible garden, butterfly garden, and wetland boardwalk.
When and where: Garden tours, food demos, mindfulness lessons, and yoga are held at Snyder Park. Beach Sweeps are held from 8 to 11 a.m. on the second Saturday each month, starting at 300 S. Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
What they do: The Pantry of Broward serves nearly 600 seniors and child-raising grandparents on low and fixed incomes in Broward County. Each month, the organization receives fresh produce, dairy, and bread, plus canned veggies and fruit, potatoes, pasta, sauce, and rice, then packages everything up into 55-pound nutritional food parcels for distribution. “The pantry also assists clients applying for affordable housing and applying for legal custody of their grandchildren,” says Ashlie Rolfe, director of community relations.
How you can help: Volunteers ages 16 and up receive, weigh, inventory, and pack the parcels of food donations for delivery. “Volunteers are the heart of our operation,” Rolfe says. “They get a sense of pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment from working with a team of passionate people who want to make their community a better place.”
When and where: Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 610 N.W. 3rd Ave. in Fort Lauderdale. Those interested in volunteering can sign up for shifts online.
An Inspiring Tail
What they do: Four-legged counselors serve this nonprofit, which offers horse-assisted psychotherapy. The horses give kids ages 3-18 and their caregivers free and judgment-free support for grief, loss, depression, PTSD, and other traumas. In the process, participants can learn to laugh and commune with others experiencing the same trials.
How you can help: Raise bales, clean stables, and groom miniature horses at the farm of Tomorrow’s Rainbow in Coconut Creek. You also can set up or clean up after special events; run concessions, crafts, or games; paint faces; play music; and play with and comfort kids. All volunteers are trained beforehand, by Zoom and in person. “You learn effective communication skills to prepare you for a crucial, supportive role in providing hope and healing to grieving families,” says Mary Jo Vandervoort, volunteer and special projects administrator. “It’s so fulfilling to help a child through the process.”
When and where: 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and at special events at Tomorrow’s Rainbow, located at 4341 N.W. 39th Ave. in Coconut Creek.
Goods That Give Back
Make a difference with your dollars when you put these locally produced wise buys in your cart. Every purchase made gives back to the Fort Lauderdale community.
Why: Young and fellow hairstylists help the homeless, one haircut and backpack of hygiene supplies at a time. “That haircut and conversation can mean the world to someone who has no home, no faith, no self-esteem, nothing,” says Young, who was once homeless and is now the owner of downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Noblemen’s Cut & Shave.
How: Direct donations and part of paste proceeds benefit the Backpack Barber Foundation, which provides haircuts, clothes, food, and hygiene needs.
Buy: $20 for 3.4 oz.
Why: Your buzz can help budding performers make sweet music. A percentage of net profits goes toward Harmonies of Hope, a nonprofit that enables youngsters to tap into their talent, regardless of income level.
How: Proceeds grant access to after-school programs for youth ages 7 and up and also provide scholarships to future musicians, singers, dancers, actors, and other performers.
Buy: Shots, 12 bottles, 2.5 oz. each, $16; Jazzy Keys ground coffee beans, 16 oz., $11; and Jazzy Keys Box of Brews, 10 mini-drip individual packets, $10.