With the holidays coming up, it's the time of year to spend and to give. Not only to your family & friends but also to the less fortunate. Whether that means the homeless, animals, or arts programs, here are some ways to participate in the Season of Giving.
1) Give Money. The end of the calendar year is when philanthropic organizations make a real push to bring in the donations. Jump in and make a donation. Even the smallest amount counts. Additionally, your employer may have an employee matching program, where they match your financial contribution, speak with your HR department to find out. Finally, charitable giving is a good way to score a year-end tax break. Just make sure you get all the necessary paperwork to claim your tax-deductable donation. Tight budget? Drop the change from your morning coffee into an employee's tip jar or better yet, go give it to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers that pop up all over the United States starting today.
2) Give Time. I am not travelling home this Thanksgiving, flying across the country is too expensive. I will have a lot of free time on my hands so in addition to some holiday shopping on Black Friday, I'm hoping to volunteer at a local food bank or spend time socializing with a senior citizen.
3) Give Stuff. Many shelters around the country are launching their holiday giving programs. These also include include Adopt-A-Family programs, Holiday Food Drives and Holiday Toy Drives. Though I truly believe if you are going to participate in an Adopt A Family program, try to give to the Adults as well. Those parents are working hard and deserve a reward as well!
I also recommend contacting your local shelter or food bank and asking what there needs are. Maybe they need toiletries or baby diapers for new mothers. Diapers are expensive and it's a really special if a new mom's basic needs are provided for so she can put the money to buying her child a toy of their own.
4) Shop For Charity. There are many companies that now donate a portion of their proceeds from certain products to charity. I'm thinking of buying someone a pair of TOMS Shoes this Christmas. If you do a large amount of your shopping online, consider shopping via an online store such as OneCause, IGive or GoodShop. Some non-profits like the Ocean Park Community Center even have their own plug-in so when you shop at a preferred retailer, a portion of your purchase goes directly to the charity of your choice.
However you choose to give back this season, in a big or small way, please try to extend your Season of Giving into the the rest of 2011.
Readers, if you have any other ideas on how to give back this holiday season--especially if you are on a budget, please share. I know as much as I want to Adopt a Family this winter, I cannot afford it and am looking for more ways to give.