Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward

Janell Braxtoncourtney

It’s that time of year again when families and friends gather to celebrate the holidays. Traditions continue down generations and new ones begin. People sitting at a table pass food to one another with jingles playing softly in the background, while others speak to relatives they haven’t seen for a while. However, to some, this holiday season isn’t going to be quite the same. While the holidays can be a dismal time for some foster youth and homeless young people, there are ways to restore some cheer through community volunteering, donating, and spreading resources.

First, in the spirit of giving back via community volunteering, Treehouse, located in Seattle, is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “strive to create a world where every child that has experienced a crisis of parenting has the opportunities and supports they need to pursue their dreams and become productive members of our community.”

At Treehouse there are plenty of options to volunteer such as being a Wearhouse Holiday Helper, where you can choose to do a onetime volunteer experience or continue to come consistently. The great part about it is that you can come alone or bring friends, family, or co-workers to join in on giving back. Another option Treehouse offers is hosting a donation drive. By being active in volunteering for these young people, it shows that people care and that the holidays don’t always have to be a bitter time.

Another service that helps homeless and at-risk young people is YouthCare. YouthCare offers a few different ways that you can give back not only during the holiday season, but year round. They offer volunteer experiences for individuals and groups to help in a few different ways which include cooking and/or serving a meal at one of YouthCare’s housing programs or helping sort items donated for the young people. For those of you who like to get dirty and use your hands, you can even volunteer to help care for the gardens and grounds around their different properties. I hope that from this article, you feel inspired to make a difference and volunteer in your local communities.

Additionally, there are resources for gifts and food for homeless young people and low-income families that can be easily accessible. Using 211, via phone or website, people are able to find resources for both food and gifts for low income families. These are just a small sample of resources out there. I ask that we all continue to spread the news of available resources that can help these young people get connected and create a network of support for the upcoming new year.

Indeed, the holiday season is different to everyone, but we can all make small steps to ensure some holiday cheer. So, as you enjoy your holidays with friends and family, don’t forget to give a little, either by volunteering some of your time, donating goods, or bringing awareness to great resources.

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We welcome submissions of articles, poetry, artwork, and photography from our young readers who have experience in the foster care system and/ or homelessness. If you want to be, or have been, published in the Mockingbird Times visit, call us at (206) 407-2134 or email us at youthprograms@ Note: Incoming letters to the editor and correspondence to youth under 18 years should be addressed to the Mockingbird Times and will be opened first by adult editorial staff.