You might be finishing up your holiday shopping – or just starting. No matter how prepared you are for the holidays, they are right around the corner, bringing with them festivities, fun and family time. Maybe you are in a giving spirit and seeking out ways in which you can give back to the community. If you need some inspiration on how you can help out, we’ve provided six ways you can give back this holiday season:
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Many homeless shelters and soup kitchens serve up a special holiday meal to bring holiday cheer to those less fortunate. These occasions typically attract a larger number of diners than what the typical staff handles on a day-to-day basis. Take out a few hours of your day to give them a hand. You can wash dishes, serve food to hungry diners or offer hot chocolate and coffee to guests. You might even consider bringing your whole family along to help out. Just a few hours of your time makes a significant difference in lifting up some spirits this holiday season.
- Make Change
Do you have a large supply of pennies, nickels and dimes? Grab that jar of extra coins you keep in your car or in a kitchen drawer and bring it to a bank to cash it into larger bills. (You could also use a coin machine to do this, but remember it will take a percentage of your change.) Take these dollars and change to either spend on items you can donate, like socks, hats or gloves, or simply donate these proceeds to a local shelter or food bank.
- Donate Toys
If you’d like to bring joy to the children in your community, you should consider donating new, unopened toys. There are plenty of organizations that allow individuals to give toys, so take a look at what is available in your area. Local shelters provide areas for people to drop off new toys so you can make the Christmas morning of children in your community merry and bright as well.
- Help Out Some Furry Friends
Although the people in your community can always use a helping hand, you may want to give some attention to the four-legged crowd. With animal shelter employees and volunteers out of town to visit family during the holidays, animal shelters are often understaffed during this busy time of year. Sign up to work for a few hours at your local shelter to give some love to the animals who are awaiting adoption. You might be of use walking dogs, cleaning the facilities, feeding the animals and support to animals that are timid. You can request to work with cats if you consider yourself more of a cat person, and with dogs if you are more of a dog person. If you love both animals equally, you can split your time evenly among the two while also offering support to other shelter animals, like birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
- Donate Extra Toiletries
You might have picked up a few extra tubes of toothpaste or rolls of toilet paper last time you saw them on sale. If you have a large surplus of extra toiletry items, consider donating them to a local homeless shelter or women’s shelter. These places are always in need of certain products, such as toothbrushes, floss, diapers, deodorant, shower gel, bandages, feminine hygiene products, razors and combs. Put some of your bulk products to good use or purchase some items to donate if you see them on sale at your local convenience store. Every bit counts when it comes to these essential items.
- Stay Close to Home
Giving back doesn’t always have to happen with strangers who are less fortunate. You can make a friend or family member’s day by offering to help them out this holiday season. Maybe you could babysit your hard-working sister’s children so she can enjoy a date night with her significant other. Or maybe your elderly neighbor could use a ride to the store. You could even surprise a friend or family member with some nice flowers whether they are going through a rough time or are celebrating a victory. Performing small acts of kindness for those we care about oftentimes speaks louder volumes than a big tangible gift does.