Five Easy Ways to Give Back to Your Community This Christmas
Wrapping presents, sending cards, baking goodies, listening to festive music, decorating the pine tree with your family... Things like this certainly put you in the cheery Christmas mood. This December celebration has always been known as “the season of giving”, and as you’re reading this, I’m sure that you have already begun to plan your Christmas gift list, and who you’ll be giving presents to this year.
There are many ways that you can give back this holiday season besides donating money to charities; that is, you can help the lesser fortunate and organizations that aim to assist them, or put a smile on someone’s face that otherwise might not be wearing one during this time of year.
1. Donate Clothes and Toys
Many organizations like the Salvation Army, among many others, collect donated clothes, food, books and toys all year around to distribute to children’s homes, homeless shelters and disadvantaged families, and they do this even more so at this time of year.
If you have any clothes that no longer fit or you don’t wear anymore, you can consider donating them to any of these organizations. Go through your wardrobe, and pick out pieces of clothing that you no longer need. Make sure that they are in good condition and have minimal to no damage. Ask your family members to contribute as well, especially any children that may have clothes that they have outgrown. It is recommended to wash the clothes before you donate them, so that they could be ready for distribution. Put them in bags or boxes, so that they would be easy to carry to the organization’s headquarters. Also, if you know of a homeless person that does not have suitable clothing for the weather, you can give them a blanket or a jacket.
You can also give toys. Charitable groups such as church associations would be happy for contributions of these, as well as children’s homes and the children’s wards of hospitals. Again, make sure that the toys are in good condition; stuffed toys can be wiped down or washed and you can include a small pack of batteries for any playthings that are battery-operated. Also, you could buy some new toys and give them as well.
2. Buy Gifts that Donate to a Cause
When shopping for presents to check off your list, look or ask for ones that a portion (or all, in some cases) of the purchase goes to a deemed organization. There are a variety of brands that contribute towards a mixture of causes, including providing food and clothing for needy children, medication for those that are sick, and the preservation of wild animal species. Magazines such as Seventeen, People and Good Housekeeping often publish lists of these products in their holiday issues.
Some product brands that double as charitable organizations include TOMS shoes, which for every pair of shoes bought, provides a pair for a child in need, Product (RED) that raises money for AIDS victims and research, and the World Wildlife Fund, who helps animals of any kind. Products that give back include makeup, clothing, jewelry and some special editions of electronics.
3. Donate to Food Banks
Food banks are at their busiest at this time of year, providing meals for those who otherwise might not have. You can go through your cupboards and take out packages and cans of food that you would not mind donating, package them and deliver them to the nearest food bank. Items such as canned and packaged goods, sugar, cereals, bags of rice, packages of oatmeal and even loaves of bread would be ideal to donate. If you can afford it, the next time you go grocery shopping, buy a few extra packages and cans that you can give to the food bank.
Volunteering is definitely a great way of giving back to the community this holiday season. There are many places and options, such as providing entertainment for the residents in an elderly persons’ home, serving food at shelters for the homeless, or spending the day at a children’s home, showing movies and providing popcorn, or reading to them. Interact with the people, and who knows, you might make a few new friends! It’d be sure to put smiles on the faces of the people, and you’d be rewarded with knowing that you helped to make their day a little brighter.
The management of such places would be more than happy for volunteers, especially at this time of year. Call them before hand to ask if and when you can visit, and share any ideas that you have, such as activities.
Volunteering can also be something simple, like offering to clear the driveway of snow or weather-related debris, cook or do grocery shopping for an elderly neighbour, or someone who might not be able to do it themselves. You can even ask them if they’d need help with putting up their lights and house decorations, or their Christmas tree.
If you know an elderly person who may not be able to cook for themselves, you can offer to provide a cooked Christmas meal for them. Prepare the meal two days before, and that way, they’d only have to reheat it. If you want, you can even invite them to your family’s Christmas meal.
5. Call a Loved One
Phone calls are one of the most popular ways to connect with family members and loved ones this holiday season. If a family member is overseas or not able to come home for Christmas (such as a college student or someone with a new job), calling them to see how they’re doing would definitely make them a bit happier. Also, call relatives that you have not seen in a long time. It’d let them know that you are thinking of them.
If there is a family member that has a well-earned reputation to be grumpy, calling them to wish them a merry Christmas might break through that hard shell. Magical things have been said to have happened during the December holidays!
Have fun spreading happiness this season, and have a wonderful Christmas!