A friend of mine told me about a great project they’re doing this year at her workplace. She works at a big company and has several coworkers to buy gifts for every year. It’s very stressful and time-consuming to figure out the best gifts for everyone and then run around after work shopping in crowded malls.

So this year, instead of exchanging gifts, they’re participating in the Adopt-A-Family program instead. She’s pretty high in the company, so she was in a position to make the decision with a couple of coworkers. They sent out an email saying that since they were all so fortunate to have good jobs, this year instead of buying gifts for coworkers, they would buy them for people who were down on their luck.

The whole office is jazzed about the project. Everyone was asked to pledge the amount of money they felt comfortable with, and with that sum they were able to “adopt” ten families. They’re going to divide the shopping list and then have a wrapping party to celebrate. Instead of giving a coworker something they don’t need and may not even use, they can be happy knowing the food and clothing and toys they’re wrapping are on their way to families who will really appreciate it.

What a great way to get into the holiday spirit, and give up a lot of stress in the bargain. If your office hasn’t made a plan yet and you have anything to say about it, you might want to give this a try. Or at least think about it for next year.

Click here to find out about the Adopt-A-Family program in Los Angeles. A lot of different organizations run these projects, so the best thing to do would be a google search for your area.

What’s your office doing for the holidays this year? Tell us about it in the Comments section.


  1. Vegan Good Life says

    We usually do a food drive for the local church. Last year, my office collected PJs and books for underprivileged children for the Pajama Program (

    In January, my two co-workers and I are doing a 'gift swap' (plus winter clothes) for people to bring in unwanted gift items (calendars, lotions, cd’s, packaged food items, etc.) The leftovers will be donated to a charitable thrift store.


  2. Ellen says

    I actually had a lot of trouble finding an adopt-a-family program for our SFV 4-H club. I looked in early/mid Oct, and that seemed to be too early–most programs were still searching for needy families, rather than donors. Then in early/mid Nov, I hit it too late–Beyond Shelter actually turned us down, saying they were filled. Although I've heard of them before, I guess there is no "Angel Tree" project in LA–a google search turned up nothing for any LA area. Finally ended up with the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels ( Our girls will get to help with delivery day as well!

  3. Anonymous says

    My office did Adopt-a-Family at the holidays till this year, when the prevailing attitude was "We don't want to contribute more crap to landfills" which is a noble sentiment in and of itself, but I think reeks of overprivilege when applied to the needy. My family is contributing to a giving tree instead, but I love the Adopt-a-Family program.

  4. danielle says

    Love this! A former colleague of mine's mom founded Beyond Shelter. I'll be passing this on for sure. Thanks Angela!

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