Charity organizations offer advice on volunteering


Gracie Warda, Assistant Online Editor

While many people picture the holiday season as a time of prosperity with gifts clustered around a Christmas tree and a massive Thanksgiving dinner, 43.1 million Americans living in poverty will picture it very differently.

To help those in need, thousands of volunteers step up to support charities during the holiday season. Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, Shoes that Fit and Adopt-a-Family are well-known (and proven to be reliable) organizations that become even more prominent during the holiday season.

“I’d encourage others to participate because there’s a tremendous feeling of satisfaction in helping America’s less fortunate children experience the joy of Christmas,” said Kelley Hardison, Deputy Vice President of Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. “It gives them hope and a reason to believe in their futures.”

This feeling of satisfaction may tempt some people to donate, however, according to Very Well Health, “There are tens of thousands of charities that ask you for money, but some are only set up to take your money and not to truly help your cause. Therefore, it’s important to confirm that you are donating to a bona fide charity, one that is authentic and will use your money well.”

There are several different ways to give to organizations: from volunteering, donating gifts and shoes, to making a cash donation. There are also different demographics that organizations target, such as military personnel, children and veterans.

Shoes that Fit tackles one of the most visible signs of poverty in America by giving children in need new sneakers to attend school with dignity and joy,” Director of Operations Karen McMillen said.

Aside from statewide and nationwide charities, local events can bring a more personalized and communal aspect to volunteering. The Warda Foundation (based in Fenton) sponsors the various events hosted by The Barn; which include buying gifts for foster children and the Thanksgiving CommUNITY lunch.

“A profitable business can’t accept charitable donations, so I established the Warda Foundation as a way to fund the Thanksgiving CommUNITY Dinner and the Christmas projects,” founder Jason Warda said. “In the past we’ve done a bike drive for children at the Whaley home for Christmas, but this year we’re hoping to get letters from them and get them specifically what they want.”

Eighty percent of students plan on volunteering or donating during this holiday season, according to a Fenton InPrint Twitter Poll, but in many cases, don’t know how or where to go. With a less than ten percent of residents below the poverty line, “It’s different in Fenton,” Warda said.

He added, “There are a lot of people in Fenton that are very comfortable, financially, and they want to help those people who are struggling, but they don’t necessarily have an avenue to give that help.”

Anyone interested in getting involved in their community can visit to find more charities in their area. 

Jason Warda, founder of The Warda Foundation, is a relative of the author of this story.