Ways to Make a Difference in Your Community this Holiday Season and Beyond


The holidays are often heralded as the most wonderful time of the year. However, for a lot of people and their families, it can be a challenge. Thurston County is no exception to the global struggle of poverty, whether it be severe destitution or simply living paycheck to paycheck. No matter your current financial status, anyone can give back this season. Below are ways to donate gifts, money and your time to spread hope and cheer throughout our community and make everyone’s holiday a little brighter.

Thurston County Food Bank

food bank
Both the Thurston County Food Bank and the Peace Center greatly appreciate non perishable, hearty food item donations.

Our local food bank accepts food donations year round, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. They are most in need of foods high in protein such as canned chili, peanut butter, beans or canned meat. Other great options are pasta, macaroni and cheese, canned fruit and vegetables, soup, baby food, baby cereal, formula, fresh fruits and vegetables. Food donations can be dropped off at the bank itself or to a drop box.

Monetary and stock donations are also received and enable the bank to continue their mission to end hunger by helping pay for the operational costs of their warehouse, including electricity and refrigeration. Financial donations can be given via check in the mail, debit/credit online, or cash in person or through the mail. The bank also partners with anyone wanting to lead their own outreach project by hosting a food drive. If you are interested in doing so, please call 360-754-5703 to set up a date and time or for any other volunteer questions.

Peace Center

food bank
The Peace Center works hard to inform and remind its church congregation to donate food items.

A new food pantry was recently established in Lacey by Capital Christian Center. The pantry is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Their most wanted food items are peanut butter, jelly, tuna, soup, chili, apples, oranges, pasta and cereal. They also accept basic hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant.

In addition to food and hygiene products, they also offer visitors resource counseling if they need help finding housing or a job. Volunteer positions available are as a receptionist answering questions any potential visitor might have or as a shopping assistant. To donate or volunteer, call 360-456-1140.

YWCA of Olympia

volunteer olympia
The Other Bank at the YWCA of Olympia provides necessary items not found at local food banks, but vitally important.

The YMCA of Olympia provides numerous services to girls and women throughout Thurston County. One service is the Other Bank which provides hygiene and household cleaning products to women and girls of low income who are unemployed, disabled or homeless. Products on their “Wish List” include dish soap, shampoo, laundry, detergent, razors, shaving cream, menstrual pads, tampons, toilet paper, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, conditioner, diapers, diaper wipes, pull-ups, liquid hand soap (no bar soap please), lotions/moisturizers, Q-Tips, Kleenex and paper towels. They prefer any of the aforementioned products to be unscented and they can be delivered Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monetary donations are also accepted via debit/credit on their website. In person volunteering is also offered for any of their programs by filling out their online form.


Over the last four years, Sidewalk has worked tirelessly to end homelessness in our community. They have helped over 800 people reach this goal so far. They use a method of providing small rent assistance while working with their clients to find house listings and any other aid they may need. They accept monetary donations on their website and offer a volunteer training in January for anyone who would like to assist the clients in the relocation process. To sign up for the training, visit their website and fill out the online form or call 360-515-5587.

Family Support Center

family support center
With the Family Support Center’s adopt a family program, many children will be getting presents this holiday thanks to individual’s generosity.

Serving as a 24/7 shelter, Family Support Center helps many homeless families every night. They rely purely on donations to assist people. They accept the following: diapers (especially large sizes 4, 5, 6 and pull ups), baby wipes, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, razors, deodorant, hand sanitizer, feminine hygiene products, coffee (ground), coffee filters, socks, underwear (boys, girls, and women; new in package only), sleeping bags, bed sheet sets (new or gently used, size twin), pillow cases, laundry soap, large bath towels (gently used is okay), dish soap, sponges, planners or day calendars, children’s clothing and coats (gently used is okay), bus passes (monthly or daily), gift cards to grocery/shopping centers, school supplies, backpacks, car seats, booster seats and plastic Ziploc bags (quart and gallon size).

Here is a bag I made myself. They are assembled and given out very easily and provide much needed items to those struggling this holiday.

Anything above can be donated at their main office, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. To volunteer, visit their website for opportunities to be a shelter greeter for an evening shift, an overnight host, organizer in the donation center or assisting in a wide range of ways at the shelter.

Do It Yourself

A simple DIY way to give back is to make and pass out homeless bags. Fill a gallon plastic bag with necessities such as a bottle of water, a toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, deodorant, wipes, socks, lotion, a first aid kit, a brush/comb and non perishable snacks. Whether you keep them in your car and give them away yourself or donate them, they are a great way to make a huge difference in someone’s life this holiday season

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