Giving Back this Holiday Season
With the holiday season upon us, many of us are focused on giving the perfect gifts to our loved ones. Whether it’s the latest gaming system or a fun new kitchen gadget, we spend a lot of time and money shopping for gifts each holiday season.
This season of giving is also a good time to look at ways we can give back to our community. There are so many opportunities to give back that it’s easy to find a way that fits you and your family’s interests and means.
Adopt a family
Many local family centers, churches, schools, and other organizations offer programs for people to “adopt” families who have needs they can’t meet during the holiday season. This can mean anything from providing gift cards to the family, to supplying the components of a holiday meal or purchasing toy and clothing gifts for them. Some organizations also set up trees in local shopping centers where you can choose an “ornament” from the tree that lists needs for individuals and/or families. After making those purchases the ornament and gifts are dropped off at a listed location and will then be provided to those individuals.
Donate to your favorite charity
The holidays, and cold winter months here in northern Minnesota, put an extra strain on many non-profits and service organizations. This is the time of year when any added donations and contributions are greatly appreciated. Your donation doesn’t have to be strictly cash, either. Food, clothing, and other items are often needed as well. Some of the most sought-after items at homeless shelters and soup kitchens are basic toiletries like shampoo, soap, and toilet paper. And don’t forget our furry friends this time of year! Animal shelters and rescues can always use food, litter, toys, cleaning supplies and so much more. Many even have an Amazon wish list set up to make ordering easy. When you’re there dropping off your donation, you may even get the added bonus of a kitten snuggle or puppy kiss.
Maximize your purchasing power
When buying gifts, look for companies that donate a portion of their sale proceeds to charities and organizations that you support. For example, for every pair of shoes purchased from Toms, they will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need. To date, over 86 million pairs of shoes have been donated! Another great company for clothing and accessory purchases is tentree. Not only are they ecologically responsible in their practices, but for every item purchased 10 trees are planted in one of six different countries in an effort “to revitalize our environment and inspire a generation to believe that they can do the same.” A quick Google search for companies that give back will give you a wide array to choose from. In addition to brands that give back, many banks and credit card companies that offer incentives like cash back and gift cards allow you to gift those earnings to a charity of your choosing.
Giving doesn’t just have to be about the money that we spend on “things”. The gift of your time is one of the greatest and most impactful things you can give. During this season, and really all year, there are so many opportunities to give your time. Volunteer to serve a meal at your local soup kitchen or food shelf or ring the bell for the Salvation Army. Take your family caroling at a nursing home or senior center, then spend some time visiting with the residents. Walk dogs or help clean out the kennels at an animal shelter. Check with your favorite non-profit to see what volunteer opportunities they have. However you decide to spend your time, know that it will be greatly appreciated.
Holidays are about building traditions and making memories with loved ones. Taking the time to give back to our community and supporting those causes that are important to us helps create amazing memories and makes the holidays a little brighter for everyone.