Our drive to help out our fellow citizens in need reaches a fever pitch over the holidays, when the concepts of giving and gratitude (and, yes, the occasional egg nog latte) fuel the season.
This week, there are tons of events in Philly that give you a chance to give in a variety of ways—whether its something unique like making sure kids with incarcerated parents have a gift to open on Christmas morning or donating to a local youth group who will show their gratitude by wrapping your presents for you.
Speaking of presents, we also highlight a couple holiday markets in Philadelphia this weekend, where you can do some last-minute shopping while supporting local entrepreneurs.
Find all that and more in our guide to do-gooder events in Philadelphia this week below.
Things to do in Philly this week for a good cause
One in 28 kids in the United States has a parent who’s behind bars—that’s 81,096 in Pennsylvania, alone. To make sure these tots with incarcerated parents have a present to open on Christmas morning, Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) has teamed up with local organizations like the Institute for Community Justice and the Village of Arts & Humanities for a weeks-long holiday toy drive that actually ends this Sunday. ESP is even throwing in an added perk for those who donate a new toy or children’s book in its original wrapping: a ticket for buy-one-get-one admission to tour the prison at a later date. Folks can drop off donations at ESP, or ship it to ATTN: Toy Drive, Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130. Through Sunday, December 22, Eastern State Penitentiary, 2027 Fairmount Avenue.
Gather in Thomas Paine Plaza on the first official day of winter to commemorate Homeless Memorial Day. The annual gathering remembers those experiencing homelessness who have lost their lives in Philadelphia over the past year and gives you a chance to lend your voice to a call to action to not only help the homeless in Philadelphia but stamp it out for good. The night includes eulogies and remembrances of those who died this year and musical performances from formerly homeless artists. To conclude, candles will be lit in a ceremony in which names of deceased people will be read aloud. Thursday, December 19, 5-6 p.m., free, Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 JFK Boulevard.
Local restauranteurs Kaitlin Wines and Ryan Elmore (pictured) of Mom-Mom’s Kitchen are working to spread the good word about Polish food in Philadelphia—while also planning to open a brand new Philly location on South Street. Support their budding local business and while wolfing down the perfect winter comfort food at this foodie event that pairs the duo with beer expert Meredith Williams of Home Brewed Events. Guests will try three speciality pierogi paired with three different types of complementary piwa (Polish for beer)—all while learning how each are made. Thursday, December 19, 6:30–8:30pm, $40, Mom-Mom’s Kitchen, 2551 Orthodox Street.
Have a ton of gifts that still need wrapping? Take the easy way out and let someone else do it for you—while also giving you the chance to support an awesome local organization that’s inspiring young girls to succeed. Girls On the Run Philly host sa gift-wrapping table at Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse for two days this weekend, where all money raised will benefit the nonprofit’s mission to teach local girls confidence, leadership and good health through running. If you’ve already wrapped all your gifts (fat chance, we know!), you could also help out by volunteering to wrap. They’ll be there for 12 hours each day and can surely use all the help they can get. Happy wrapping! Friday–Saturday, December 20–21, 9am–9pm, fee is donation-based, Barnes & Noble, 1805 Walnut Street.
The Block Gives Back, a local nonprofit with a mission very similar to our own—to provide Philadelphians with the tools and knowledge they need to be more engaged citizens—hosts its fourth annual End of Year Jawn in Center City. Folks are invited out to help fill 250 tote bags with everyday essentials like gloves, scarves, chapstick, tampons and hand sanitizer, and plate 250-plus meals that will be donated to local people in need. You can help in a variety of ways: volunteering at the event, and/or donating money or any of the goods mentioned above. Here’s a list of donation drop-off locations if you can’t make it to the event. Saturday, December 21, 1 p.m., free, 16th Street and JFK Boulevard.
Those looking to stock up on unique locally made and sourced gifts—and support local makers and sellers—have at least two chances this weekend at the Holiday Punk Rock Flea Market and the Procrastinators Pop Up Market at Philly Home Girls. The former runs from 10am to 5pm at 23rd Street Armory, where, for a $5 entry fee, you’ll find “awesome clothing, records, crafts, art, and most of all old punk junk.” The Philly Home Girls Jawn picks up where that leaves off, open from 5 to 9pm at their headquarters in Fishtown at 2006 Frankford Avenue. There you’ll find tons of cool qiftables from local outfits like Anethum Jewelry, Squirrel Tacos, Curious Clay and West Oak Design. They’ll also have free beer and wine to help boost your shopping mood. Saturday, December 21.