December is in full swing and nearly halfway over but it's not too late to give back this holiday season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, 'tis the season to reach out a giving hand and help where you can. A little can go a long way and your generosity doesn't have to be monetary. Get the family involved, including your little ones and show them what it means to lend a helping hand.
Below are ten ways to give back this holiday season.
1. Toys for Tots is a great way to include all aged children. Donate a new, unwrapped toy to a Toys for Tots drop off location and child in need will have something new to unwrap! Take it a step further and allow your child to pick out the toy from the store and make sure to discuss why you're donating the toy. (all ages)
2. Donate food to a local food drive or food pantry. We're participating in our local Pack the Pantry food drive. Include the children in donation process by having them choose non perishable goods from the grocery store or from your own pantry at home. It's an easy and very inexpensive way to give back locally. (all ages)
3. Random Acts of Kindness are great throughout the year but especially appreciated during gift giving season. While out with your children make it a point to pay for the person's meal behind you in the drive thru or buy a local Salvation Army bell ringer a hot cup of coffee on those chilly winter days. Our daughter brought snacks and water to a Salvation Army volunteer, it only takes a little bit of cheer to brighten someones day. (all ages)
4. Partner up with the American Red Cross during their annual Mail for Heroes holiday letter writing campaign to send our soldiers a holiday card. This is a great organization and event to include your child to write and decorate a holiday card to be turned into the American Red Cross and shipped overseas to the many soldiers away from their families. (school aged +)
5. Samaritans Purse, Operation Christmas Child is a faith based international organization that provides gift “shoe”boxes for children in need. Include your children in packing a shoe box and bringing it to a drop off location. You have the ability to choose boy or girl and the age, so a box can be packed for a child or children the same age as your own children, so cool and very meaningful. (preschool, school aged, teenager)
6. Help your Neighbor — it's as easy as raking up leaves, tending to the garbage cans, shoveling the driveway, handing out $5 or $10 gift cards to Target or Walmart, preparing a warm meal for them or simply sending them a sweet note. (all ages)
7. Partner up with a retirement/assisted living home to help decorate living quarters and sing carols to the residents. It's free and you only have to bring your smiles and singing voices. (school aged +)
8. Volunteer service time at a local homeless shelter with needs throughout this time of year. Offer to serve a meal, collect warm blankets and hand out hygiene packages to the homeless folks seeking shelter. (18+, adult)*
9. Meals on Wheels is a great organization to donate funds to help to provide well balanced meals to the elderly. Locally, we have the opportunity to volunteer putting together Friendship Trays for our MoW organization. Check out how to help the elderly within your own community. (18+, adults)*
10. Don't forget about your furry friends, local animal shelters are always looking for donations and/or families who want to adopt a pet. Check with your local shelters to see how you can best give back. (teenager, adult)*
*Check your local shelters/organizations for age restrictions.
Photo credit: adapted from JD Hancock | Flickr