Holiday Nonprofit Photo

As the holiday season rolls around, not only is it a time for shopping and celebrating, but it is also a time to give back to the community. Knoxville and the broader East Tennessee area is home to a number of nonprofit organizations that take care of everything ranging from animal welfare to arts and culture. 

JLS Photography - Alaska / Creative Commons

As the holiday season rolls around, not only is it a time for shopping and celebrating, but it is also a time to give back to the community. Knoxville and the broader East Tennessee area are home to a number of nonprofit organizations that take care of everything ranging from animal welfare to arts and culture.

It can be difficult to discern what charities and causes to donate to, especially when trying to find one that aligns with all of one’s values. Some popular charities, such as the Salvation Army, have come under fire in recent years for discriminatory practices. It can be important to do research into an organization before handing over any money.

For the cash-strapped college student, an alternative way of giving is through volunteer work. Most organizations accept volunteers year-round, but some do see an increased need during the holiday season.

Another popular method is through Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile is no different from the regular Amazon website, except shoppers may designate a charitable organization to benefit. Amazon then donates a small portion from eligible purchases. Many local nonprofits participate in the program, and it is a good option to help out while doing holiday shopping.

Feral Feline Friends

For almost two decades, Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee (FFF) has worked to control the stray cat situation in the area. In addition to their trap-neuter-release program, FFF also maintains a network of feline foster homes and hosts adoption events at local PetSmarts. The organization is 100% funded by donations and is always looking for volunteers and foster homes. Applications can be found on their website.

Mountain Access Brigade

This network of volunteer doulas helps patients across East Tennessee access reproductive health care, including emergency contraception and abortion care. With the ban on abortion in Tennessee and the loss of vital reproductive health clinics in Knoxville, it is becoming harder for patients to find affordable, supportive care. Mountain Access Brigade steps in and fills in those gaps, and donations go directly to clients’ needs. At present, they do not have the capacity to coordinate volunteers full-time, but those interested are encouraged to follow their social media for more information.

Knox Pride

The East Tennessee Equality Council, known colloquially as “Knox Pride,” is an organization dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights. In addition to holding events, including the annual PrideFest, Knox Pride runs a community and outreach center in South Knoxville that offers resources and support. Money donated to Knox Pride goes to funding its operations, as well as to many other queer organizations in the area. A portion of the funding is also distributed to individuals in need.

Bridge Refugee Services

Bridge is an organization dedicated to helping refugees rebuild their lives in East Tennessee. Since 1982, Bridge has helped to resettle over 2,400 refugees from across the world. The organization partners with institutions on the federal, state and local levels to offer a variety of services, including case management and employment assistance. Bridge is always looking for volunteers, especially to form Community Assistance Teams, which work with individual families.

Knoxville Family Justice Center

The Knoxville Family Justice Center (KFJC) prides itself as a “one stop shop” for survivors of abuse in the area. It offers a large variety of resources and services, including legal aid and social services. Any survivor can access KFJC’s services, regardless of immigration or criminal status, and all services are free of charge. In addition to direct monetary donations, the center also has an Amazon Wishlist and accepts donations through other means, which can be found on their website. KFJC is also looking for volunteers to help with administrative tasks, outreach and fundraising.

Helping Mamas

Helping Mamas partners with other organizations in the community to provide support to struggling families across East Tennessee. It collects and distributes donated essential goods and also coordinates family support workers. In addition to monetary donations through its website, Helping Mamas also accepts donations of items at their West Knoxville office. A list of accepted items can be found here. The organization also has an Amazon Wishlist.

Choice Health Network/Positively Living

Originally founded to care for those living with HIV and AIDS, Positively Living has expanded its operations to service the most vulnerable populations in the community, such as families facing homelessness or struggling with addiction or mental illness. In addition to affordable healthcare at their Ailor Avenue clinic, the organization also provides food assistance and transportation services, as well as a housing assistance program. Donations can be made directly through the website. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Jessica Langer, Senior Director of Development and Marketing.

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