The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on the past twelve months, make goals for the new year and spend quality time with friends and family. It’s also the ideal time to think about how you can pay it forward. Sadly, many Americans live in poverty and without basic comforts like warm clothes, food, and medicine. However, there are so many wonderful ways you can give back, whether it’s volunteering at a homeless shelter or donating toys for kids in need. If you’re in search of ideas, here are some great ways to give back this holiday season.
Bring a smile to a child’s face
One of the most well-known charities in the U.S., Toys for Tots has donated over 500 million toys since 1947 - talk about a real-life Santa Claus! Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys and sends them to less fortunate children in a community in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located. To find your community, simply go to toysfortots.org, click “Donate a Toy” and find your state and city or county. If you don’t have Toys for Tots in your town, you can set up your own toy drive or donate directly to the charity.
Sponsor a food drive
Sponsoring a food drive is a fantastic way to get your whole community involved by donating food to low-income families. Before you start collecting goods like peanut butter, canned vegetables, and dried pasta, choose a date (or several days) to hold your food drive before a holiday. Pick a well-trafficked location like a library, school or grocery store, and post flyers, send out emails and do whatever you can to spread the word. Once you’ve reached your goal, contact your local food bank to drop off the items.
Give your clothes a second life
Make room for new purchases and presents this holiday by donating your old clothes and supporting an organization like Goodwill, Red Cross or Salvation Army. Check to see if your local charity is accepting items, then go through your closet and take out what no longer fits you or you’re not wearing, like a pair of jeans or a winter coat. Once you’ve donated, feel good that your clothes aren’t ending up in a landfill, but rather in the hands of someone who really needs it.
Donating blood is a simple way to make a huge difference in people’s lives. According to the Red Cross, donating one pint of blood can save up to three lives. First, check to see if you’re eligible to donate blood, as certain cases like travel or having tattoos can restrict you from donating. Once you’re in the clear, search for a local blood bank or blood drive and call to make an appointment. Before your appointment, eat an iron-rich meal and drink plenty of fluids. You can donate blood every 56 days, so start planning your next donation!
Instead of presents, give back to a worthy cause
Presents under the tree are great, but why not do something extra special this holiday by donating to a non-profit you really care about? Whether it’s for you, a family member or a friend, give the gift of good by donating to a great cause. For the environmentalist, donate to the World Wildlife Fund, which aims to create a healthier planet. For the aspiring doctor, Doctors Without Borders provides medical aid to critical areas. To help children around the world, UNICEF helps millions by providing kids with education and health. If you are looking for a charity, check out GuideStar and Charity Navigator.
What are some ways you are giving back this season? Let us know in the comments below!
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