After the sugar rush of Halloween subsides, the next rush begins- the holiday rush, that is! One of the greatest parts of this holiday is that it’s the “Season of Giving.” Many people and organizations ramp up their charitable giving, whether it’s in the form of time, money, or donations. The best part? Whether you’re giving back or paying it forward, you can make a difference on any budget. Here are some of our best ideas for giving back:
Donate, Don’t Throw Away: Many people make upgrades to technology, appliances, and wardrobes during the holidays when many of these items go on sale. If you’re replacing wares that still function, instead of throwing them away (unless they’re in rough shape), donate them to an organization such as Goodwill, where someone else can purchase them at discounted prices. A lot of non-profit organizations and shelters run on donations, too. If you know of a local organization that could benefit from your former belongings. Donating clothes, shoes, and books that you no longer want are also great donations. (Note: When deciding if an item is worthy of donation, ask yourself ‘Would I give this to a friend?’ If it’s not good enough for a friend, don’t burden an organization with the costs it will take to dispose of a subpar donation.)
Offer Your Time. Your time is probably one of the most valuable gifts you could give to people. Whether it’s calling up an old friend, offering a free day/night of babysitting or pet-sitting, helping someone who needs help moving around with cleaning and running errands, or even just sitting and having coffee with someone who enjoys your company, there are endless opportunities to share your time with others who will benefit. Lend a hand, lend your ears, whatever you can. Many volunteer organizations also have tasks they need help with, some can even be done from the comfort of your own home (ex: making phone calls, stuffing envelopes).
Handwritten Notes/Letters. In a world where we make most of our plans via email or texting, receiving a handwritten letter has become a rare and special occurrence. By writing a letter or send a friendly note to a loved one, you’re taking the time to sit down and craft something thoughtful. You’ll be amazed at how much these will be appreciated!
Bring Food to Others. During this time of year, there tend to be a lot of food drives going on. Grocery stores will often have donation bins for people to drop non-perishable goods. Most of these goods are inexpensive, and are easy to purchase as you do your normal shopping. Another idea, if you’re making a meal or dish, you can double the recipe and make an extra to donate or drop off, maybe to a shelter or even your local police or fire department. Depending on the recipe you’re making, it’s likely you’ll have enough ingredients to make extra so there won’t be an absurd additional cost. Food banks, shelters, religious organizations, and other groups providing meals need extra help this time of year so consider reaching out and meeting specific requests they may have.
Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is an online movement that uses social media to connect people to opportunities for giving. You can participate in Giving Tuesday as an individual by entering your location and finding a list of nonprofits near you. You can then reach out to the organization and ask what you can do to help (this may involve a monetary donation or volunteer work). The official date for Giving Tuesday this year is November 29th. In addition to your participation, sharing on social media will help bring attention to those organizations in need.
Small Gestures. Small gestures go a long way, and you can offer them at any point in the day. These involve going out of your way to thank someone for their work, holding the door, smiling at a stranger, letting someone ahead of you in line at the store, bringing a cup of coffee to a friend…You may think that these ideas are “too easy,” but you never know how much those small gestures could turn someone’s day around.
No matter where you are financially, you always have something to give. Here’s to a season of being thoughtful and giving what we can!