3 Simple, Impactful Ways You Can Help Fellow Philadelphians This Fall
Thanksgiving is all about food and friendship, and there’s no better way to give back to the Greater Philadelphia area this season than by offering both. Nearly one in five city residents live in food-insecure households. Social isolation and loneliness — especially amongst the elderly — are linked with adverse health effects like high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression and cognitive decline, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Caring for Friends, formerly known as Aid for Friends, is tackling both of these issues head-on in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. “No one should be hungry or alone in a world with so many caring people,” says founder Rita Ungaro-Schiavone. The local nonprofit supports nearly 2,000 individuals through volunteer-provided meals and visits, serving homebound, disabled seniors as well as families and people experiencing homelessness. Getting involved is simpler than you think. Here are three ways you can make a difference this season:
Feeding community members in need can easily start right at home. Many volunteers commit to making one extra portion at dinner each week, packing the meals in containers provided by Caring for Friends. The nonprofit also hosts cooking and food assembly events at its commercial kitchen and preferred volunteer locations, enabling companies or groups to prepare food together as a team-building activity. Thanks to a variety of helping hands, Caring for Friends provides close to 500,000 free-of-charge meals to its clients each year and more than 10,000 pounds of food to community organizations serving people in need.
Whether you’ve made the meal yourself or not, anyone can sign up to spend quality time with program participants. Each hour-or-so weekly visit offers the chance to form a caring, meaningful friendship. (Seriously, when was the last time you had the opportunity to just sit down and get to know someone?) If you prefer not to cook, you can stop at a nearby freezer location to pick up some prepared food on the way. Providing companionship is a cost-free way to counteract some of the adverse health effects of isolation.
While giving your time can make a big difference, other types of gifts can also have a large impact. For every $1 donated, Caring for Friends generates more than $6 in free meals and services for clients. You can send a one-time monetary donation or set up a recurring gift to provide assistance on a regular basis. Another simple way to help: Add a few extra items to your grocery list. Non-perishable snacks, frozen protein, fresh fruit, canned goods and everyday pantry items like spices, herbs and cooking oils will all go to good use. No matter which way you decide to pitch in, your efforts will support your neighbors’ independence while improving their health and quality of life.This is a paid partnership between Caring for Friends and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio