NEW YORK CITY — It's time to give back.
In a holiday season marked by creeping commercialism, it's heartening to know that charitable donations remain a strong tradition.
Whether you feel like donating your time and energy, or some of your cash and possessions, let DNAinfo New York guide you through the season of giving.
► Donate arts and crafts materials — preferably in bulk — to Materials for the Arts.
With all the gifts New Yorkers give and receive during the holidays, Executive Director of Materials for the Arts Harriet Taub can think of a "zillion things" that school teachers, child service workers and after-school programs can use to make art.
"Ribbons, buttons, fabric, old crayons, rolls of wrapping paper," Taub said. "The kind of fancy bags you bring gifts in, you can reinvent them, turn them into puppets by turning them upside down."
Materials for the Arts, which is located on Northern Boulevard between 33rd and 34th Streets in Long Island City, accepts donations on a drop-in basis every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Givers are encouraged to call (718) 729-2065 before stopping by.
► Donate your old winter jackets to the New York Cares Coat Drive.
Help a New Yorker stay warm by donating your old winter coat to New York Cares, an organization that has been coordinating volunteer actions and donation drives since the late 1980s.
The holiday coat drive begins Nov. 17 and runs until the end of the year. During that period, charitable New Yorkers will be able to drop their winter jackets off at some 300 donation sites in all five boroughs, including at every police precinct in the city, according to New York Cares.
Last year, the holiday coat drive yielded over 75,000 coats, said Erica Plofsky, Media and Communications manager at New York Cares.
This year, shelters and non-profits around the city have submitted requests for up to 100,000 coats, Plofsky said.
If you want to donate before Nov. 17, coats are accepted Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the New York Cares loading dock, at 157 West 31st Street in Manhattan. That donation site will stay open until Dec. 31.
Financial donations are also accepted.
► Fulfill a child's wish by buying presents through the New York Cares Winter Wishes program.
For its Winter Wishes program, New York Cares partners with hundreds of nonprofits to provide holiday gifts for children, teens and seniors in New York.
Every year, New York Cares receives almost 40,000 letters containing wishes for holiday presents.
"It ranges from seniors asking for a new sweater for the holidays, to kids who will ask for the newest toy," said Erica Plofsky.
Volunteer wish-fulfillers will receive a stack of letters, and then strive toward making those wishes come true by buying presents and sending them out in the mail.
The recommended maximum cost of a present is $40, Plofsky said.
She also noted that the time for sending in wish-letters has passed for this holiday season.
Learn more about how to participate in the Winter Wishes program at New York Cares' website.
► Give warm winter clothing to Bridging the Gap NY.
The Tanger Hillel student group of Brooklyn College is collecting winter clothing through its organization Bridging the Gap NY.
"It's pretty simple," said Yelena Azriyel, Director of Jewish Student Life and Community Affairs. "People can drop off their scarves, sweaters, coats and other warm clothing at Hillel."
Bridging the Gap NY has a partnership with the NYC Department of Homeless Services, and the clothing received will go to homeless New Yorkers living in local shelters, Azriyel said.
Donations are accepted Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 2901 Campus Road at Brooklyn College in Flatbush.
► Donate swanky shoes for job-seeking women through Dress for Success.
Four years ago, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was branded as Giving Tuesday, a national rally for charitable donations.
Already, Giving Tuesday has been re-branded by the U.S.-wide philanthropic organization Dress for Success as "Giving Shoes Day."
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, New Yorkers are encouraged to donate dress shoes to be distributed to women in the city who are looking for employment.
Dress for Success also accepts general clothing donations the third Sunday of every month.
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