This time of year is traditionally a time of gratitude and time spent with family. Perhaps, now more than ever, we are collectively thankful for being able to gather together safely to enjoy each other's company and a good meal.
However, this holiday season will be more challenging for many Minnesotans than those of the pre-pandemic past. With COVID-19 cases rising with the cooler weather in Minnesota and around the country, it's a reminder that we're not out of the woods yet. And for those struggling with housing insecurity, children trying to overcome educational challenges, and families wondering what will be on their Thanksgiving table, this season could be challenging indeed.
One way to show your gratitude is to share what you can beyond the scope of family and friends and donate to worthy causes right here in Minnesota. To help you find a local nonprofit, we've put together a shortlist of organizations working to improve the lives of Minnesotans. If you are able, we encourage you to consider a contribution that will brighten your neighbors' holiday season.
Hunger Solutions Minnesota
Founded in and serving the entire state of Minnesota, Hunger Solutions works to address hunger on a large scale. They work to advance policy at the state and federal level and coordinate with food banks and shelves across Minnesota to get food to those that need it. They also offer a call-in line to connect those in need with resources that can help.
Hunger Solutions is the only anti-hunger organization that serves every county in Minnesota, so they make a significant impact statewide. And they leverage data to bring food and resources to the areas that need it most. Their Hunger Data program helps to tell the story of hunger experienced in Minnesota by tracking food shelf visitor data. Using this information, they can see where food insecurity is getting worse or better across the state.
According to recent data, in 2020, Minnesotans visited food shelves or banks 3,831,293 times. It marks an increase of 7% from 2019, which illustrates just how challenging the pandemic has been in our state. And, unfortunately, 2020 was also the tenth year in a row that food bank visits totaled over 3 million in Minnesota.
A donation now may not come in time to change someone's Thanksgiving table. Still, it could certainly create a happier holiday season by taking hunger off the table.
Kids in Need Foundation operates not just in Minnesota but nationwide. However, their mission "to provide every child with equal opportunity and access to a quality education" means as much here as it does anywhere. Children across the state have had to transition to distance learning and back to being in the classroom again. Both of those transitions impacted kids socially, emotionally, and educationally.
Kids in Need provides resources and materials to underserved schools to help teachers teach and help children learn. They recognize that quality education matters. It is the path toward opportunity and is necessary for the next generation to meet their potential. They know that consistent attendance is required for student participation and engagement, leading to higher graduation rates. And, they believe that ensuring the human dignity of students and teachers is possible through the distribution of school supplies. They know that having the right tools for education bolsters confidence in students and teachers alike.
Kids in Need Foundation accepts monetary donations as well as donations of school supplies like:
People Serving People is the most comprehensive shelter for families experiencing homelessness in Minnesota. Their mission, "...to see families thrive," has made them a leader in tackling the issue of housing insecurity and homelessness prevention. Their mission has become more complicated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, they remain dedicated to helping families across Minnesota find emergency shelter. They also offer three meals every day in their cafeteria and provide basic necessities to those in need.
Rather than just giving families a place to rest their heads, People Serving People offers a variety of programs designed to help families bond and find community, assist in early childhood and K-12 education, and learn how to manage money better.
With a focus on serving families, People Serving People's 2020 Annual Report indicates that 61% of their guests were children. And, to bring the disparities that Minnesota is facing into perspective, 93% of the families they housed identified as people of color. As they state, "racial equity and family empowerment has remained at the center of our work."
People Serving People accepts financial donations, item donations and has volunteer opportunities. The most needed items right now are baby supplies, bedding, and household supplies.
Of course, there are many more nonprofit organizations helping Minnesotans across the state. Here are a few more nonprofits working to battle food insecurity, housing and
Second Harvest Heartland
Second Harvest Heartland, the second-largest food bank in the country, serves Minnesota and the surrounding area. They distribute food to food shelves as well as provide prepared meals to those in need. They accept monetary donations and have volunteering opportunities available.
House Of Charity/St. Stephens
House of Charity is merging with St. Stephens to help homeless and housing insecure individuals and families across the Twin Cities metro area. The additional sanitation needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic have hit housing nonprofits hard. They accept monetary and in-kind donations as well as volunteers.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is hard at work creating affordable housing across the metro area. They also assist in housing repairs, offer mortgage counseling, and sell the homes they build to families in need. They have many volunteering opportunities available but also accept monetary donations.
Memorial Blood Center
Did you know that donating blood can save up to three lives an hour? Memorial Blood Center is accepting blood donations to help offset the national blood supply shortage. Donations are accepted from most people. If you have questions about whether you qualify, they have an extensive FAQs page on their website.
Church of Gitchitwaa Kateri
The Catholic Church of Gitchitwaa Kateri focuses its efforts on serving the Indigenous populations in the Twin Cities metro area. They are currently seeking baby supplies such as formula and diapers as well as warm-weather clothing for adults.
Give Thanks, and Just Give
We hope that this list of nonprofit organizations helping the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota is helpful. And that it has served as a reminder that there are plenty of ways you can help close to home.