Christmas has always been one of my favorite times of year for many reasons, the harry potter marathons, Christmas cookies, and spending time with my friends and family, just to name a few. However, just the other week me and my stepmom donated 5 boxes to Samaritans Purse (for those of you who are unfamiliar, Samaritans Purse organizes an event every year during the holiday season in which you pick up a shoebox and then fill it with items for a child in need.) When I dropped off our boxes, I felt such an amazing loving energy, knowing that a child was going to get a Christmas gift because of me. Not to mention i got to be a kid again and pick out all of the toys myself to fill the box. This got me inspired to research other ways i could help make our world a better place this holiday season, and I thought i would share some ideas with you all in the hopes that it may cause a positive reaction and change. Below are just a few ideas on ways you can help those less fortunate this holiday season, choose one or all, remember that even the smallest donation or effort can create a tidal wave of change.
Donate to charity:
This is obviously the quickest and most convenient option to give back during the holidays. Many people are traveling or entertaining family during this time of the year and may not have much free time to organize anything too time consuming or donate their time to charity. There are thousands of worthy causes out there that you can donate to, they do not have to be Christmas themed or affiliated with the holiday. Just be sure to do your research when picking the charity you are going to donate to.
charitynavigator.org is an excellent resource to utilize when trying to decide on a charity. This website allows you to find new charitable causes or search for one you have already found. It then gives you stats, facts, and info on that charity and also gives it a rating so you are confident that your money is being put to use responsibly and being given directly to the cause.
Below is a list of some examples of charities you can donate to this holiday season. All of these charities accept donations online so the process is quick and simple. (Be sure to also research some local charities that may be in your community some examples include: Animal shelters, hospitals, pregnancy centers, women’s shelters, orphanage, etc.)
- St. Jude Children’s Hospital
- International Rescue Committee
- Save The Children
- A Wish for Animals
There are thousands more like these just take your time and make sure you are fully committed to helping the cause you have chosen, whatever that may be.
Donate your time to charity:
Although donating money to a worthy cause is no doubt a great way to make a difference, the holiday season can be expensive enough as it is. With a list of gifts to buy, extreme grocery bills, and traveling expenses, its no wonder why many people give up entirely on trying to be charitable throughout the holidays. However, donating your time to a local organization or charity makes just as much of a positive impact on your community, plus it enriches you with the feeling of actually committing your time to a cause. Volunteering can also be a wonderful learning experience for children and can help them develop a sense of gratitude by showing them the things that many people go without.
Here are a list of some volunteering opportunities below: (Remember, every area has different organizations and opportunities for volunteers, be sure to google some opportunities specific to your area. Also, some jobs may need to be planned weeks or even months ahead, do not feel frustrated if you are too late for this year. However, these opportunities are available in most areas.)
- Call your local United Way and ask for a list of homeless shelters and other agencies that serve food in your community, then call each shelter to ask if you can volunteer during the holidays
- Call the Salvation Army to see if they will be delivering meals or serving meals during the holidays and if you could volunteer to help with either activity.
- Contact your local office for Meals on Wheels. They will prefer that you volunteer several times before the holidays, to prove yourself as a reliable volunteer, before signing you up for any days during the holidays.
- Contact local hospice organizations to see if you could help with meal delivery or other services during the holidays, or on a specific day.
- Call your local USO, VFW, VA hospital and other veterans organizations and ask them if they will be doing any activities during the holidays that you could volunteer for.
- Call your local hospital and ask to speak with the volunteering coordinator. Ask her if it would be okay for you to make get well cards for all the children in the pediatric unit that will be there during the holidays, or on Thanksgiving or Christmas in particular, how many cards you would need to make to ensure each child got such a card, and how you would deliver those to the hospital so that they get to the kids on the day you want them delivered. Then spend a day (you can include friends and family!) making those cards.
- Call your local jail or nearest prison and ask if it would be okay to make Happy Holiday cards for the people incarcerated. Ask how many you should make and when you should drop them off to be distributed on a holiday. (However, when making your cards, be sensitive to the variety of cultures and beliefs that may be among the residents)
- Make a list of all of the various senior homes in your immediate area. Call each and find out how many people are living in each, and if it would be okay for you to make and drop off Season’s Greetings cards you make. Then spend a day, afternoon or morning making cards for one of these facilities. (Again, when making your cards, be sensitive to the variety of cultures and beliefs that may be among the residents.)
- Make baked goods and, on the holiday of your choice, drop by places that might have someone working — animal shelter staff, police, firefighters — and distribute them with your best wishes. These are a great way to brighten someone’s day when they are hard at work during the holidays.
Give Charitable Gifts:
Many people want to give back this holiday season, however, they may not have the time to commit to volunteering, A perfect solution is to consider shopping for gifts that support charitable causes, this is a fantastic way to multitask, save time, and money. Some great resources to find some high-quality gifts that also give back to many worthy causes are listed below:
Unicef Gift Market:
This charity works hard to save and protects the world’s most vulnerable children. They fight for child rights and providing health care, immunizations, nutrition, access to safe water and sanitation services, basic education, protection and emergency relief. With an 85% charity rating and over 90% of the funds going directly to the children in 190 countries they operate in, Unicef is an excellent organization. The reason they are included on this list of charitable gifts is due to their Unicef gift market, here you can find gifts for anyone of any age. You can find accessories, home decor, toys, cards, etc. These gifts are high quality and the site is neatly organized and even equipped with a gift finder so you can find the perfect gift for anyone.
Shop Unicef gift market here: https://www.market.unicefusa.org/
Listed below are some more articles or lists of gift items that donate a portion or all of the proceeds to charitable organizations:
Donate items to those in need:
Another great way to spread the love and generosity during the holiday season is to donate gifts or items to people who may need them. These items are usually very basic items such as toiletries, cosmetics, socks, etc. They don’t cost a lot, but they could possibly make someone’s Christmas!
Below is a list of some places to drop off or donate items:
- Call your local women’s shelter for a list of items to donate
- Call your local pregnancy clinic for a list of items to donate
- Send toys or cards to your local children’s hospital
- Send a care package to a child in need (Ex: Samaritans Purse)
- Drop off a care package at a local orphanage or foster home
There are many other places to donate specific items, however, these are very dependent on your location. Be sure to do some research on some places in your area who may be in need this holiday season.
Remember. this is just a quick guide to help give you some ideas on ways you can help your community and our planet this holiday season, be sure to get online and do some research to find the cause the really speaks to you and makes you excited to get involved, whether it be within your our community, or on a larger scale. The holidays are a fantastic time to reconnect with our generosity and to be humbled in knowing that many people do not have many of the blessings we take for granted every day. Lastly, do not be disappointed or ashamed if you do not have the time or money to donate or volunteer this Christmas season, and remember that even the smallest donation or act of kindness can make a greater impact than you know. This Christmas try your best to be kind to everyone around you, show empathy and gratitude, and try to continue this practice into the new year. I wish you all a holiday season filled with love and joy.