The holidays are a season of giving. It’s a time for reflecting on the year and expressing gratitude for your blessings, great or small. It’s a time for families to come together and where everyone feels connected and full of holiday cheer. It can also be a time of great need for some people. If you have the means, the holiday season can be an incredibly special time for you to give back to your community, whether you’re in New York or Topeka, and all those around you who need some extra love and care.
You’re a good, kind-hearted individual with all this love to give. But the real question is, what is the best way to give back? With so many charities, food and toy drives, and volunteering opportunities during this time of year, it can almost be overwhelming to figure out where your time and talents will be best utilized. Regardless of what you choose to do, you’re already on the right path to giving back to your community. Your generosity and kindness will create so many special memories and moments this holiday season. Here are just a few basic ways to consider giving back to your community during the holidays and continue spreading smiles all year round.
1. Donate to various organizations.
The end of the year can be an expensive time for many. Between buying Christmas presents and getting your home ready for the holiday rush, it’s understandable that money may be a little tight. That being said, if you’re able to give back financially it will be much appreciated. Many nonprofits will do an extra push around the holidays to try and create magical moments for their communities during the winter months. You can find plenty of organizations that will help feed the homeless, bring toys to kids who don’t have any, or work to create winter wonderlands in hospitals that would be very grateful for your donation and your generosity.
This can be extremely beneficial for religious organizations. Churches work extra hard putting on Christmas pageants, nativity scenes, and extravagant Christmas Eve services. Whether you regularly tithe or are looking for a worthy recipient of your donation, pull out the offering envelopes to give a little extra this holiday season. Putting a few extra dollars in the offering envelope may also be a gift that keeps on giving, as church organizations often focus on outreach and helping those in need. Your money will definitely be going to a worthy cause if you go this route.
Christian churches aren’t the only organizations that need your help during the holidays. They may not celebrate Christmas, but Jewish organizations also do a lot of good during their season of Hanukkah. Jewish centers often help create special moments and a safe space for anyone who needs it all year round, but especially in this season. Howard Fensterman is a well-renowned lawyer who has taken an interest in Jewish communities and organizations, such as Chabad of Port Washington, to help them create happiness and a home away from home within the community. Follow in his footsteps and add some funds to the envelope to support to an organization like this during the holidays.
2. Help with a food or toy drive.
The holidays are traditionally a time to help the hungry and homeless. With so many food-oriented holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, food drives work extra hard to make sure bellies are full during this time of year. Consider giving back by helping out with your local food drive. Whether you’re bringing canned goods by every couple of weeks or physically volunteering to serve the food, you can make a huge difference in your community by making sure everyone is well-fed and comfortable.
If food drives aren’t as much your style, you can also look into helping with a local toy drive. Underprivileged kids in your area may not be looking forward to the same kind of Christmas with a huge pile of presents under the tree. For some families, that simply isn’t feasible. But the holidays are a time for miracles. Consider sponsoring a child and getting them some presents for under the tree or even volunteering your time to wrap and package presents for local kids. Any way you can help out will directly impact a child who will have an extra reason to smile this season.
Give back in ways you’re already spending.
Around this time of year, several companies and organizations will set up the ability for you to give back in areas where you’re already spending. For example, Amazon allows nonprofits to connect with their site. So by online shopping on Amazon Smile, you can be automatically giving back a portion of your purchase to your favorite charity. Similarly, banks and businesses may also offer charity credit cards that will earn money for that organization on every purchase. If you can find these clever tricks, you can be giving back to your community without changing anything about your daily lifestyle.
Another way to give back is to invest directly in your community rather than big business. The holidays are a big time for shopping and spending. Rather than buying all your presents from brand names online, can you shop locally? This will put money back into your local economy and your community directly rather than feeding large corporations. Just another small way to give back in ways where you’re already spending money.
Volunteer your services and expertise.
Volunteering is a great way to give back during the holidays. Mentioned above is the opportunity to volunteer for a food or toy drive, but you may be able to do even more. Local libraries and organizations love to offer practical services to the community. If you have expertise in a certain area, you may be able to help give back that way. This can be in big ways or small. If you’re a great editor, maybe you can help individuals get their resume up to scratch for a big job interview. Or if you’re good with your hands, you can help get solar roofing ready for winter all-around your community. There are so many ways to show philanthropy. Get creative and find ways you can help that other people may not be able to.
Get extras when you’re out shopping.
Sometimes charity is just little moments of thinking of someone other than yourself. The next time you go out to the grocery store, can you pick up a few extra cans of food that can go back to the food pantry? Or even considering adding a little tip for the barista the next time you pick up your coffee. This is a season of generosity, so when you’re out and about remember a few extra dollars can go a long way.
Express your gratitude right at home.
Giving back to your community can actually start right in your home. It’s always a good idea to remind your family how much you truly love them. See where they could use some help and offer your time and energy to them. Maybe it’s a few hours of babysitting or a quick ride to the airport. Taking the time to give back to your family and friends definitely won’t go unnoticed. This is also the perfect season to show your gratitude and appreciation for all your family and friends do for you year-round. Write a card saying thanks or bring your family a plate of cookies. Everyone likes to feel loved and appreciated, so how can you spread that joy during the holidays?