For most of us, the holidays bring happy memories, wonderful traditions, indulgent warm meals, and much-needed time spent with family and loved ones. But for some Louisvillians, these things are luxuries, not realities. There are many ways the community can help those who are less fortunate. Louisville Distilled identified ten for this year’s Give-Back Guide.

#1 Fight Homelessness with Five Bucks a Month Club

Join the Coalition for the Homeless‘ “Five Bucks A Month Club” to get one person off of the streets and into shelter for one night each month during extreme weather. This helps fund the city’s White Flag Program, which provides funding to local shelters to open their doors and make space for everyone during the coldest winter nights. Just visit and click “Make a Gift.”

  1. #2 Plan Compassionate Team Building Experience
  2. Want to volunteer your time or plan a compassionate team building experience for staff or friends? Contact Metro United Way to find out what volunteer opportunities are available around the city. Call (502) 583-2821 to see how you can help.
  3. #3 Hand Out Sandwiches
  4. Volunteer to join a local group like The Forgotten Louisville to hand out sandwiches and help the homeless. For details see their facebook page here.

#4 Donate Leftover Food

An unfortunate side effect of all the holiday parties is food waste. Instead of throwing away leftover food after a holiday gathering, call Kentucky Harvest at(502) 894-9999 and schedule a pick-up of the left-over perishable and non-perishable food. The donated food is then delivered to more than 120 missions, shelters and food pantries.

  1. #5 Buy Gifts for Newly-Housed 
  2. Donate gifts to local homeless youth and home goods for newly-housed young people through YMCA Safe Place Services. Contact Ariel Brooks at (502) 381-0140for more information.

#6 Donate Used Cell Phones

The Center for Women and Families  accepts donations of used cell phones so that their clients always have a way to make a call in an unsafe situation. They can be dropped off at any of their locations. For more information call (502) 581-7200. The Center for Women and Families also hosts a Holiday Gift Card Drive through December 12, so that the organization’s clients are empowered to do their own holiday shopping.

  1. #7 Shop Online With AmazonSmile
  2. Shopping online? Consider ordering through AmazonSmile, a free web site operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as The difference is that when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates a portion of the item’s purchase price to the charity of your choice.

#8 Sort Gifts for Children, Make Care Packages for Seniors

  1. Jewish Career and Family Services has two upcoming events for families and young adults. The Hanukkah Helpers Family Mitzvah Event on Sunday, December 3 from 12-2 p.m. at JCFS headquarters (2821 Klempner Way) is a free family-friendly event. Guests will help unload the truck of gifts for children who are in need of help during the holiday. Attendees will also enjoy pizza, play Hanukkah Bingo, and make crafts and goodie bags for seniors. RSVP to Kim Toebbe. Cocktails & Care Packages is a VIALou (Volunteers in Action-Louisville) Event on December 4 from 6:30-9 p.m. at JCFS headquarters (2821 Klempner Way). Join other young professionals, to help collect, package and distribute items for Louisville’s homeless. The goal is to make 200 care packages! RSVP to  Lisa Sobel-Berlow by December 1.

#9 Host a Hygiene Product Drive

Host a hygiene product drive amongst your friends or co-workers and collect things like lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes, chapstick and other personal care products to donate to a local shelter.

#10 Help Homeless Pets

  1. Don’t forget about pets this holiday season. Consider helping our homeless pet population by donating a much-needed item, or by asking friends and family to donate items in lieu of Christmas or Hannukah gifts to the Kentucky Humane Society. Wish List donations are accepted at the KHS Main Campus, East Campus, Eastpoint Pet Resort and Fern Creek Pet Resort. View locations and hours.

One More Suggestion

Finally, it is always great to get the community’s support during the holidays, but gifts are needed all year and many service providers especially struggle to meet the needs of our community during the summer and other times of the year. So, while you are acting compassionately this holiday season, mark your calendars for six months from now and try another one of these ideas then.

A Cleveland native turned Louisville resident by way of Chicago, Melanie brings 20 years publishing experience to Louisville Distilled. After graduating from Indiana University Bloomington with degrees in English and Journalism, Melanie has worked as an editor on staffs at national magazines based in Chicago and Los Angeles. She moved to Louisville in 2004 where she launched a successful freelance editing and writing career. Her award-winning articles have appeared in Draft, Chef, The National Culinary Review, Pizza Today, Complete Woman, Louisville Magazine, Business First, Her Scene, Medical News and more. She lives in the East End with her husband, Sean, two children and dog. Passionate about the arts (and an adventurous foodie) Melanie loves eating her way through Louisville’s food scene and supporting the local arts and music scene.


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