The real magic of the holidays is experienced when we give it away to others. Gifts of time, money, and goods shared with family, friends, and neighbors not only benefit them, but make our lives better, too.
Consider adopting a local family this holiday season. If your children attend a local school, you can contact the administration to see if there is a family in need. A local social services provider, shelter, or church would also be a place to start. You could purchase basic necessities for the family, along with special toys and gifts to make them feel remembered and special during what is probably a difficult time.
2. Donate to Charities
There are many charitable organizations worthy of your money or goods donation. Sorting through and donating clothing and household items not only benefits the organization they go to and the people they serve, but provide health and wellness in your home. Children can learn valuable lessons about giving to those less fortunate or in need of extra assistance. Most charitable donations given before the year’s end are also tax deductible, making the gift benefit others and make your tax load a little lighter.
3. Holiday Mail for Heroes
Each year the American Red Cross collects holiday cards between October and early December and distributes them at military installations and veteran’s hospitals around the world. The cards and personal messages provide a welcome “touch of home” for our troops during the holiday season. To participate in this worthy program, go to www.redcross.org. Throughout the year, you can make a difference with a tax-deductible monetary gift to help military families through the Red Cross.
4. Shop Local
Purchasing gifts from local vendors puts much needed capital right back into your community. Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business rather than a national chain, a significant amount of your money supports other local businesses such as service providers and farms. When you support your local vendors, it makes less of an environmental impact, creates more jobs, promotes better service, puts your taxes to good use, and encourages local prosperity. You help support your parks, recreation centers, libraries, and the other things that make your community a great place to live.
5. Cook and Share
Another way to give back is to cook a few meals for those in need. Maybe you know a family that is struggling and could use some extra help. Nothing is better than making someone’s holiday season a little brighter and easier with a few warm, comforting meals. You might also check at your local shelter or church for local families in need of some nourishment. Another idea is to bake some cookies or other goodies to share. You could bake with your family or some friends and share the treats, or perhaps you could host a cookie exchange. Have everyone make a few dozen of his or her favorite cookies, and donate a larger variety to help brighten someone’s holidays.
There are so many ways to give back this holiday season. Enrich your perspective, teach your children the joy of giving, share some holiday spirit, encourage your neighbors, and support your community. When we take a few moments to think of others, we all benefit.