In the midst of all this Christmas chaos – shopping for presents, watching your favorite holiday movies, listening to carols, baking cookies – it’s important to remember that some people aren’t as fortunate as you. In your own community, there may be families struggling to put food on the table or to provide gifts for their children. So if you have time, money, or resources to spare, consider giving back this holiday season.
Giving Back This Holiday Season
Donate to your local homeless shelter.
This Christmas, as you sit inside your cozy home, think of the roughly half a million people experiencing homelessness in the U.S. To give back, research the homeless shelters in your area and then give them a call to see what items they need. According to the Renewal Project, homeless shelters are often in need of the following: twin blankets, personal care items (soap, washcloths, feminine hygiene products), new underwear, new socks, and earbuds. And of course, cash is always appreciated!
Donate to local animal shelters.
Unfortunately, many animals also don’t have a home for the holidays and will spend this Christmas in a shelter. Whatever you can give will go a long way toward helping these needy pets. Again, we recommend that you contact your local animal shelter to see what they currently need before you make assumptions. However, it’s pretty safe to assume that your local animal shelter would appreciate the following: dog and cat food, cat litter, dog beds, blankets, durable dog toys, and cleaning supplies.
Donate to or volunteer with a local food bank or soup kitchen.
Whether you have time, money, or food to give, your local food bank or soup kitchen will surely appreciate your generosity. If you plan to donate food, try to choose nutritious foods like the following: beans (canned or dried), pre-cooked rice packets, canned vegetables and fruits, canned tuna or chicken, peanut butter, and bottled water.
Give your server a generous tip.
If you’re planning to eat a meal out this holiday season, consider surprising your server with a big tip. While it’s always important to give your waiter or waitress a suitable tip for their hard work, it’s fun and kind to be extra generous during the holidays. Stick around to see the huge smile on their face when they see the tip, or walk away knowing that you’re leaving a great surprise in your wake.
Shop local for holiday presents.
Yes, it’s easy to stick with huge corporations for your holiday gift-buying – but shopping at local businesses is a great way to find unique gifts while also supporting your local economy. Research local businesses in your area, or simply set aside some time to explore in your car or by foot. You could also eat at local restaurants or coffee shops.
“Adopt” a family.
Many communities have adopt-a-family programs for the holidays that allow you to assist needy families. For example, the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa has a Holiday Adopt-a-Family program. Donors are matched with a family and provided with their “wish list,” which might include household items, grocery items, gift ideas for children, and general information about them (especially the ages, sizes, and interests of the children). Then, you can go out and purchase gifts for the family, bring them to the charity, and the charity will deliver the gifts to the family. If you have some extra time, love, and resources this year, this is a great way to give back.
Not sure where to start with giving back this holiday season? Ask around your community to see if there’s a particular need that you could help with. Never forget that you can make a real difference in your state, your city, or even your neighborhood.
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