A giving tree, sometimes called an angel tree, is a meaningful way to personalize holiday giving. Start by contacting local charities or social service agencies. Depending on the agency, you might be provided with a list of children’s first names, ages, and desired gifts, which you write out on a paper tag and place on the tree. (For example, your tag might say “John, age 7, Star Wars Legos; Sarah, age 5, puzzles.”) Publicize the tree in your newsletter and on your Facebook page and encourage families to take a tag. Arrange both a central location for gift drop-off and for volunteers to deliver the gifts to the agency.
Winter Coat/Clothing Drive
Many closets contain outgrown coats and other winter wear. Give them new life by organizing a winter coat and clothing drive. This can be as simple as placing large boxes in the school foyer or outside classrooms. Donate the clothing to a local shelter, or search “winter coat drive” online for other suggestions of where to donate the items.
Gift Baskets for a Shelter
Collect money or supplies to assemble baskets for a women’s or homeless shelter: blankets, socks, games for children, books, personal hygiene supplies, etc.
Toy or Other Donation Drive
Contact a local agency or a national organization such as Toys for Tots to arrange a toy donation. Get the word out to parents and place a bin in your school lobby. Some families might prefer to give a non-toy gift. As a variation, school supplies for some kids could be running low. Ask parents to donate backpacks and school supplies.
Cards or Crafts for Seniors
The holidays can be a lonely time for senior citizens in nursing homes. Have students make simple crafts (easy ornaments, paper placemats, magnets) or cards. If possible, arrange a visit to a local nursing home or senior center to deliver the gifts and spread some cheer.
Candy Cane Cheer for Teachers
Sometimes, “giving back” can be as simple as making someone smile. Attach a candy cane to a note and give it to a teacher. Include in the note the suggestion that she do the same for someone else.