The holidays are a time to reflect on our blessings and celebrate the moments shared with family and friends. It’s also a time of giving and spreading holiday cheer. To make the most of your holiday season, share simple acts of kindness by giving back.
While donating money is always appreciated, volunteering your time is also a great way to contribute. Not only will it give you the warm fuzzies, it’s a creative alternative to the holiday get-together with friends—why not coordinate a day to assemble food kits for your local shelter?
Here, check out the many ways to give back this holiday season:
1. Identify a Cause You’re Passionate About
Whether it’s helping a child learn to read, or getting involved in beach clean-up, Volunteer Match makes it easy to find a cause you care about that’s nearby. With thousands of charities in its database organized by broad categories like arts and culture, children, animals, or the environment—you’ll be able to devote your time to issues close to your heart.
2. Organize a Food Drive or Cook for a Local Shelter
To learn more about donating to your local food bank or organizing a food drive, Feeding America is a great resource to find out how to get started. You can even prepare and serve dinner at a local Ronald McDonald House. Check out Rise Against Hunger to learn about how to host a meal packaging event for those in developing countries.
3. Cuddle with Kittens
Local humane shelters are always in need of volunteers to walk or even read to dogs, and care for their cats. Donating old blankets or towels are also appreciated. Find out what these shelters need by checking out The Humane Society. Not sure where to donate your old car? The ASPCA provides free tow services for vehicles.
4. Mentor a High Schooler and Prepare Them for College
With over 1,900 volunteers nationally, Minds Matter is an organization that guides motivated low-income sophomores and juniors through SAT and ACT test prep and the college application process. It’s an in-depth 3-year program that allows the volunteer to really make a long-lasting impact in the lives of the students.
5. Support Our Troops Abroad
Take time to write a few letters thanking military personnel for their service. You can even put together holiday care packages for military stationed away from home. Learn more at Operation Gratitude which helps coordinate the mailing of care packages to almost 2 million troops to date.
6. Clean Out Your Closet
It’s time to clean out your closet and donate gently used clothing. Donate professional attire to Dress for Success, which helps disadvantaged women getting into the workforce. Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program transforms your old running shoes into building materials for playgrounds and athletic facilities. Just drop your shoes off at a participating Nike store location.
7. Bring Joy to a Child Facing Medical Challenges
Spend time with a patient by reading to them or participating in various arts and crafts activities. Project Sunshine provides numerous programs that give you an opportunity to light up a child’s life.
8. Purchasing from Retailers that Give Back
When choosing where to purchase holidays gifts this season, consider the following retailers that donate a portion of your purchase to charity:
Warby Parker: The hip eyeglasses retailer donates a percentage of sales to those in developing countries needing eye exams and affordable eyeglasses.
Bombas: The retailer donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of Bombas socks sold.
Everlane: A portion of the proceeds from a purchase of their “100% Human” collection is given to civil rights organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
Feed: By purchasing a Feed product, your contribution helps to end world hunger. Each item-- whether it’s a bag or shirt, or kitchen tool--is stamped with a number showing the number of meals your purchase will give to a family in need.
When donating to charity, make sure to do your research to avoid charity scams. Check out these tips from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for best practices when it comes to donating to charities. We recommend making donations to organizations that are either tax exempt or have been designated as a non-profit with the IRS. Charity Navigator helps you identify charities that are fiscally responsible and transparent.