Four Simple Ways to Give Back During the Holidays

Looking for ways to give back? There's still plenty you can do
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No matter your schedule, resources or budget, there are Seattle organizations in need of your service.

It’s proven: being kind to others makes us happier.

Giving of your time and resources can be an investment in your well-being, and more importantly, the well-being of others. No matter your budget, schedule or resources, there are ways you can help.

It’s not too late to give back to local organizations that are in need of a hand— or two—for the holidays. Here are four easy ways to give back (and end your year on a good note!)

1. Volunteer

Providence Hospice of Seattle offers grief counseling and bereavement support for local residents. There are many volunteer opportunities available, including animal-assisted activities and therapy, administrative aid, pediatric hospice help and more.

Treehouse is a Seattle organization that helps to provide support for youth in foster care. Donate your time by hosting a donation drive or event; by helping to collect monetary donations, new clothes, gifts, toys, shoes, and more, you help Treehouse by providing essential items for children.

Got a talent for knitting? Provide hats for Little Hats, Big Hearts in their efforts to help babies during American Heart Month; yarn donations are also accepted.

Help the elderly and disabled in the community by training to be a long-term care ombudsman through the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. Volunteers are trained, certified and authorized to advocate for residents of long-term care facilities.

2. Feed the Hungry

You’re probably doing last-minute grocery shopping for your holiday party, so why not purchase a little extra for hungry bellies? The Food Driving Box Program helps feed hungry people in the area by allowing people to pick up free boxes that they fill up and donate. Boxes can be picked up at all 27 Seattle area food banks or Satsuma Kids Shop in Wedgwood.

Only Serving Love (OSL) provides millions of hot, no-cost meals and sack lunches three times a day, seven days a week to those in the greater Seattle area. Help the cause by joining their monthly club ($31+ each month) or offering a one-time donation. You can also contribute to special projects, like donating to their GoFundMe for a Mobile Kitchen or by providing needed supplies.

Give $25 to Bellevue LifeSpring to purchase a Breaktime-Mealtime™ box, an Adopt-a-Box initiative that helps children get nourishing meals during school holidays.

Aid Food Lifeline by helping to inspect and repack food in their Volunteer Action Center. Volunteers are also needed for a Ride Along in a Food Lifeline truck on November 28, December 27 or January 3.

Got a green thumb? Donate your surplus produce to the University District Food Bank.

3. Donate Used Goods

The Seattle chapter of World Relief helps refugees acclimate to their new environments. Since you’re already shopping on Amazon for last-minute holiday gifts, why not help fulfill needed items from the organization’s Wish List, by supplying Welcome Kits, or by donating your gently-used furniture and household goods? You can also volunteer by acting as a cultural companion, offering a host home and assisting in ESL classes.

Mary’s Place helps homeless women, children and families by providing shelter, resources and community to needing individuals. You can help by donating a variety of needed goods, like clothing, kitchen items and even your professional services.

Help the local YMCA by donating work-appropriate clothing for Dress for Success Seattle and Working Wardrobe in Seattle, Everett and Redmond.

Give of your clothing, furnishings, or vehicles to help Hope Link, a nonprofit seeking to end poverty.

4. Share Your Spare Change

Art With Heart helps local children overcome trauma. You can donate any amount of money, buy theurapeutic art kits that benefit the organization or even art supplies. You can also volunteer.

We know you need coffee, so why not sip for a cause? Callie’s Coffee purchases help support pediatric cancer research through Ben Towne Center. (And can perhaps serve as a last-minute gift idea?)

Get tickets to Bike Works’ Bikecitement 2017, an annual fundraising dinner that aids in the organization’s mission of empowering youth and building communities. You can also donate to the organization (including your old wheels) or volunteer your time.

Childhaven helps to treat childhood trauma and end the cycle of child abuse. Consider sponsoring a child’s birthday, purchasing birthday gifts  or donating to help furnish supplies and fund field trips. You can also attend or sponsor related events, volunteer or make traditional donations.

Solid Ground helps end poverty by provide educational resources and working to improve the systems and institutions that serve vulnerable individuals and groups in local communities. You can supply items from the organization’s wish listprovide a tribute giftdonate your carattend an event, or even donate stocks and securities.

Seattle Milk Fund helps local families by empowering parents to pursue higher education opportunities. Donate and help meet the needs of local families, like providing a tank of gas, a trip to the grocery store, books, school supplies and school tuition.

Send a holiday card to a loved one while helping support the abused, abandoned and neglected children at Olive Crest, an organization dedicated to preventing child abuse.

Watch the last games of the Seahawks season while supporting a good cause: Touchdowns Against Childhood Cancer and quarterback Russell Wilson are teaming up, and you can pledge a donation for every touchdown he makes during games. Alaska Airlines is matching all donations made by supporters up to $50,000.

GoCstudio’s Floating Sauna Sends Winter Blues Adrift

GoCstudio’s Floating Sauna Sends Winter Blues Adrift

GoCstudio’s floating sauna is a one-of-a-kind space for blowing off steam
Architect Jon Gentry climbs the custom aluminum ladder of the ‘wa_sauna’, goCstudio’s outdoor floating sauna, as Tony Kim back flips off the upper diving deck. Inside, Lydia Ramsey enjoys the heat of the sauna which makes that icy water feel sensational

Restrictions imposed by permits, budgets and difficult building sites can make it tough for designers to create something truly innovative, but Seattle-based architecture firm GoCstudio ( doesn’t shy away from a challenge. That’s what prompted founders Jon Gentry and Aimée O’Carroll to try their hand at building Wa_sauna: a floating sauna currently docked on Lake Union just below the University Bridge.

Clad with spruce wood planks, the interior of the ‘wa_sauna’ features an upper and lower bench for reclining and a wood stove


The project—built with crowdfunding from more than 500 donations and in partnership with design/build students in the University of Washington’s Master of Architecture program—is a 12-foot-tall, 4,500-pound shed with an interior wood-burning stove, spruce-finished interior, an electric trolling motor and ebony-stained wooden exterior. The team was challenged to balance aesthetics with the utilitarian requirements of boatbuilding. “We quickly discovered that our initial concept—having the sauna anchored in the middle of the lake—wasn’t possible because of permitting,” explains Gentry. Instead, he and O’Carroll shifted their focus toward building a barge-type boat powered by an electric motor. “This allowed us so much flexibility in terms of location, use and interaction with other boats and kayaks on the water,” Gentry says. 

The ebony-stained plywood exteriors frame slot windows, so users enjoy outdoor views while sweating their blues away inside the sauna

Completed in 2015, Wa_sauna spent the summer of 2016 cruising between Portage Bay and Union Bay, and hosting events at Westward restaurant on the north side of Lake Union. GoCstudio will offer more public events this year to give more people the chance to experience the sauna. And while it’s not for sale, Gentry says you could certainly commission one as the experience of using the sauna is unlike any other. “The best part is being out on the water,” Gentry says. “It’s a very active experience; climb up to the roof deck, cold plunge into the lake and have a swim. Then climb back inside to warm up.” And how does it fare in one of Seattle’s storms? “We tie Wa_sauna up to the dock if it’s really stormy. It’s meant for calm, slow outings, not really for fighting the wind and wake from a big storm. Rain isn’t a problem, though.” Rain or shine, he says, “It’s quite nice.” 

A marine-grade plywood deck surrounds the sauna box, propelled by an electric trolling motor on the bow

See where the Wa_sauna’s next port will be at