Do you feel the holiday season has become a seemingly endless, obligatory routine of gift buying and parties? You’re not alone. Shopping and spending money are what many people associate with the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ While striving to honor our relationships with friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in just buying things. What’s meant to be a special, jolly season can become a hectic blur, and come January, many people feel rather depleted financially, physically, and emotionally. Why not choose to give back this holiday season?
You can choose to focus on constructive actions and making an impact on people’s lives in December. Filling your schedule with positive choices and giving can make a massive difference for others and for your own peace of mind. Not to mention, it helps keep us grounded and mindful of what matters most.
Here are seven ways to give back and make a big difference to the lives of those in need.
Ways to Give Back:
At this time of the year, many food kitchens will tell you they’re full for volunteers, but that it would be lovely to have help in January and beyond. Don’t let those no’s deter you, though. If local food kitchens or homeless shelters are completely booked up, see if you can lend a hand at holiday festivals benefiting charities or at elderly care homes that need cheerful helpers. Going back to help out in January would also be a lovely idea!
Donate to charity
If you’re pressed for time, this can be a very nice to way to give back to a cause of your choice. While Giving Tuesday has just recently past, many charities still receive an extended donation match throughout December, and some employers will match their employee’s contributions, too. Both of these options are wonderful ways to expand your financial impact on an issue near and dear to your heart. Here’s how you can donate to Food Banks in the US and to Stop Hunger in the UK.
Look for food drives
If you’d like to help the hungry this holiday season, a great way to start is by looking towards your own community. Try contacting local charities, schools, food banks and kitchens, as well as places of worship to see if they’re organizing food drives. Here’s where you can find your local food bank.
What Food Banks really need – Since they tend to have longer shelf lives, canned items and boxed foods are usually a very practical donation. The bottom line though, is that no matter how small your offering is, it can still make a world of difference to a hungry family in need.
- Juice Drinks (Go for the 100% Juice kind to avoid harmful high fructose corn syrup)
- seasonal staples like Cranberry Sauce and Stuffing Mixes
- Canned mixed vegetables
- canned tuna, chicken, and salmon
- Mixed Nuts
- Canned Fruits and Fruit Cups (no sugar variety)
- Whole grain Pasta
- Brown Rice
- Canola, Vegetable or Olive Oil
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Soups (low sodium)
- Canned Beans
- Cereals and Granola Bars
Organize your own Food Drive
Contact your local Food Bank – they may be able to supply barrels and/or plastic/paper bags for food collections. Also, they can let you know what items are most needed at the time of your food drive.
- Create a theme! Make it FUN! Themes often help generate excitement around a food drive and aid in the promotion of your drive.
- Set a goal for how much food and/or money to collect.
- Create promotional materials that will help build awareness about hunger issues, your food drive, and encourage maximum participation.
- Ensure delivery of the donations to receiving organization(s)/Food Banks.
- Here are some tips and ideas for your theme.
Donate and Upcycle your stuff
Our homes and closets are bursting with things. Stuff that we don’t know or even need. So why not have a rummage and donate all those items that are lying at the back of the closet unworn? Maybe they can find a good home with the help of Charity Retail in the UK and Goodwill in the US.
What you can donate-
- Good quality clothes, shoes, bras, bags, hats and jewelry
- Poor quality clothing can also be donated
- Books, DVDs and CDs
- Working electrical goods
- Good quality furniture
- Unwanted furniture for upcycling.
Instead of maxing out credit cards on presents, give loved ones your presence. It also helps cut back on the amount of wrapping paper that ends up wasted. For those who truly love the art of gift giving though, consider personalized, homemade gifts tailored to your skills and abilities, such as whether you love to cook, make art, and so forth. Use Gift Catalogs to make sure your gifts reach the needy.
Play Santa Claus
Parents in need sometimes have to choose between buying their kids food, medicine or holiday presents. Of those three, it’s easy to guess what gets axed first. That’s where many religious centers and charities step in and organize children’s gift drives. Sponsor a family’s Christmas and a child who might otherwise wake up to nothing on the 25th of December can have some Christmas magic. Additionally, some post offices welcome volunteers who would like to help manage and respond to children’s letters to Father Christmas.
Did you give back to the community this year? Let us know of your efforts to inspire us and everyone who wants to give back. Also, share this story on Facebook to spread the message.