Give back to the community during the holidays

By Aleta Donald

The holiday season is full of time spent with family and loved ones. However, it is also important to give back to the community during this special time. The ECHO has compiled a list of ways for you to give back this year over the holiday season.

Volunteer to help the homeless and the hungry in Chapel Hill. The Inter-Faith Council/Chapel Hill (IFC) relies on volunteers to provide service for the underprivileged in the community. Volunteer at their community kitchen, food pantry, or community houses. View their full list of services and sign up to volunteer at

Organize a gift-wrapping service in your neighborhood, and charge affordable prices to wrap presents. Alternatively to gift wrapping, try watching a neighbor’s children while they go holiday shopping or raking leaves. Donate the money you make to a local charity, like Extraordinary Ventures, which employs young people with autism, Orange County Rape Crisis Center, which offers support and services to victims of sexual assualt and educates young people about it, or TABLE, which provides food aid to children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

Donate to shelters by cleaning out your house of things that you don’t need. The Chapel Hill men’s shelter (Community House) is currently in need of padlocks, backpacks, bath towels, washcloths, twin size sheets, pillowcases, coats, hats, gloves, and personal care items such as toothbrushes, soap, and feminine products. For a complete list of the shelter’s needs, visit

Promote local businesses. Instead of continually visiting chain restaurants, like Waffle House or Panera, try some local alternatives like Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe or Sandwich that are just as good. Instead of Chipotle, try Bandido’s, and instead of McDonald’s, go to Buns.

Participate in holiday food drives. Collect cans and boxes of food around your house and then donate to food drives in Chapel Hill. Among TABLE’s current needs are spaghetti with meatballs, tomato sauce, low-sodium chicken, vegetable or tomato Soup, canned tuna or chicken, boxed mac & cheese, canned veggies, peanut butter, and any produce items. Find a complete list at Drop the food off at 205 W Weaver St in Carrboro, or call (919) 636-4860 to schedule a drop off time. IFC’s Food Pantry currently needs canned meats/tuna, pasta and pasta sauce, soup, rice, cereal, canned fruit and other non-perishables. See their complete list at To donate food items, bring them to 100 W. Main Street in Carrboro. Bulk items and prepared food can be brought to the Community Kitchen, 100 W. Rosemary Street.

Mail letters of appreciation to the troops. Write creative, kind, and uplifting messages to soldiers, and then mail them to the following address:

A Million Thanks

17853 Santiago Blvd.


Villa Park, CA 92861

Appreciate your teachers. Write a note to a someone that had a positive influence on you, or just thank your teachers with small gifts, such as school supplies, coffee mugs, or even chocolate. If you can’t afford to spend a lot, keep in mind that the best gift of all is just saying thank you.

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