6 Ways to Give Back to Your Community This Holiday Season

If the holiday season has put you in a giving mood (and it should!), why not take that generous spirit out into your community? Gifts aren’t the only thing you can give this year. There are plenty of opportunities to give back to your community during the holidays, so try to spread the joy to some people who could use a little cheering up this month.

  1. Organize a canned food drive:

    Do a quick Google search of “how to help food banks during the holidays” and you’ll get news stories from all over the country describing local food banks in need. Chances are, your nearby food bank could use the help, too. Money gets tight during the holidays for many families as they try to make the holidays bright for their children and spouses, so paying for food and feasts sometimes becomes a financial burden. Help families in your community by organizing a food or turkey drive with some friends or your church. Check with your local food bank to find out what their greatest needs are.

  2. Clean out your house:

    You’re about to be showered with all kinds of gifts from loved ones and Santa, so it’s the perfect time to make room for new belongings by cleaning out the old. Go through closets, cabinets, and drawers that haven’t seen the light of day in years. There are bound to be items and clothes that you don’t use but could be great for someone else. Take them to a Salvation Army or GoodWill donation center where they can be sold to people who need to save some money on gifts.

  3. Visit a nursing home:

    Though many residents in nursing homes have relatives they can spend the holidays with, there are others who aren’t so lucky. Their spouses may have died, their kids might live too far away for them to travel, or they may not have had either to begin with. Spending the holidays alone or letting them pass without celebrating can be really depressing, so there are plenty of opportunities to visit these sometimes-forgotten members of the community. Call ahead to the nursing home to see what would be helpful, and try to arrange a visit where you and a group come to sing, play games, or just hand out cards to cheer up some residents.

  4. Adopt an angel:

    Angel trees are a common way to help out the community, run by several different organizations around the country. Disadvantaged families sign up for the program to make sure their children get gifts during the holidays, and then the names and wishes of the children are put on a tree for people to take on themselves. Find an Angel Tree location near you and go choose a child or two. You’ll be giving them items they really need, as well as keeping up their belief in Santa.

  5. Contribute to a coat drive:

    Even if you live in one of the warmest states in the country, the nights get cold for those who don’t have a roof over their heads or can’t afford heat on the coldest nights. By donating coats to a local coat drive, you can make sure that both adults and children who can’t afford warm winter coats are able to stay healthy and safe throughout the winter season. If there’s not a coat drive going on near you, start one. There’s no doubt you can find a nonprofit that serves the homeless or disadvantaged families that would welcome the donations.

  6. Give donations as gifts:

    Sharing the spirit of giving with those on your gift list can be a great way to do good and avoid the materialism of the season. By donating money in someone’s name or giving a gift card to a nonprofit, your friends and family will feel good about the gifts they’re receiving and you’ll know your money isn’t going to waste on yet another scarf or tin of popcorn. Buy gift cards at Kiva.org, where the recipient can use the money to give microloans, or Network for Good, which allows recipients to choose which charity to donate the money to. If you already know causes close to your friends’ hearts, making a donation in their name can be a great way to honor them.

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