Holiday Giving

Give Charitably

The season of giving gifts is also a time for giving back


December is a time filled with holidays, presents, feasts and joy (despite the onset of cold winter weather). But there are many Rhode Islanders who are unable to enjoy these blissful traditions due to everyday struggles that are economic, physical or social. This year, be a Saint Nicholas to someone in need by giving time, money or goods to these excellent organizations.

The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale has a name befitting its provisions to local people; the mission of the Jonnycake Center is to provide basic necessities to those in need. On December 14-15 from 9:30am-3pm and ‘til 2:30pm on the 16th, volunteers will be needed for “Santa’s Workshop.” After receiving donations of unwrapped toys, volunteers will sort the donations and escort clients to gifts that are of their children’s age range. Volunteers will work in three-hour shifts. Also on December 16, volunteers are needs to deliver holiday meals to seniors from 9am-1pm.

Another local Jonnycake Center is the Bradford Jonnycake Center of Westerly. This nonprofit provides food, clothing, household goods and emergency financial assistance to qualified residents in the South County area, and they have exciting volunteer opportunities for the holiday season. Volunteers are needed in their food pantry to prepare and distribute Christmas food baskets. The Thrift Store needs help processing gifts and moving them to a staging area. Volunteers will be “Santa’s Elves” and are needed to prepare the gifts for distribution to families. Also, the Jonnycake Center is looking for those who would like to be matched with a family in need of help buying gifts for their children under 18. For details and dates on the Food Pantry or Thrift Store, contact Steve at 377-8069 ext. 3 or email For family matches, contact Jennifer at 377-8069 ext. 1.

Easter Seals Rhode Island is an exceptional service for people with disabilities or special needs. Their goal is to ensure that the people they serve and their families have equal opportunities within their communities. Donations are always needed in an effort to provide these services.

South County Habitat for Humanity builds affordable, simple and decent housing for those in need. These homes are produced almost entirely by volunteers. Currently four new houses are being constructed on Old North Road in Kingston. Volunteers are always needed and no construction experience is required. Habitat’s annual Gingerbread Blitz-Build is back and it’s another great way to get involved. Build a gingerbread house to be displayed in various shops on Main Street in Wakefield throughout December and vote on your favorite. Voting costs only $1 and ballot stuffing is encouraged. Give to Habitat for Humanity in this fun and creative way. The Habitat ReStore and offices are located at 1555 Shannock Road, Shannock.

The Rhode Island Center Assisting those in Need is an all-encompassing service organization. The center helps those in the Washington County area with food and emergency outreach in crisis situations or hardships in an effort to stabilize their lives. The center believes that every volunteer has a talent that can be used.

Cornerstone Adult Services provides care and day services to frail elders and adults with disabilities. They offer socialization, therapeutic activities, personal care, meals and more, optimizing the quality of life for the participants. By visiting with your pet, reading to residents, baking for one of the fundraisers or participating in other volunteer tasks, you can help make a difference – especially at the holidays.

The Literacy Volunteers of Kent County, an affiliate of ProLiteracy America, provide free English tutoring for adults to improve their lives in their homes, workplaces and as citizens. On December 10, LVKC will be staffing a giftwrapping table at Barnes & Noble on Bald Hill Road in Warwick from 3pm-9pm. Volunteers will be needed for one- to two-hour shifts and the event will be a fun way to show your support, meet the tutors and students, and raise funds.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank is a staple in our state. Their effort to end hunger by providing nutritious food to those in need has helped many Rhode Islanders throughout the years. A holiday meal drive is coming up at the open house on December 3 from 9am-noon. It is a great opportunity to see the food bank, make donations and enjoy some hot chocolate and cookies. Then on December 10, Bill Harley & Friends will be playing a benefit concert at the Lincoln School for the Food Bank. For more information on items needed for donation, or on purchasing tickets for the concert, go to their website.

The Rainbow Fund was created after John and Cindy Duncan’s daughter, Cassandra Grace Duncan, took her own life the day after Christmas. The fund helps generate money for NAMI of Rhode Island (National Alliance on Mental Illness), spreading the word of their effort to replace the fear and shame of mental illness with hope. This December, on the sixth anniversary of Cassie’s death, donate to a cause that will help so many of our friends and neighbors. Visit John and Cindy’s Harvest Acre Farm located at 425 Kingstown Road, West Kingston or call 789-8752.