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6 Ways to give back at Christmas (or any time of year)

Christmas is the season of giving, but with all the costs of holiday shopping, decorating, and celebrating, your budget may not allow much room for charity - unless you've planned ahead. Never fear! Giving back at Christmas is possible without spending a dime. All it takes is something much more precious than money: your time.

Generosity counts! Here are six ways to give back at Christmas that can fit into any budget or schedule.

Giving Tuesday

Hot on the tails of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday celebrates a day set aside to really bring home the idea of give-GIVING during the holiday season. Across social media, ideas to partake in Giving Tuesday abound, but in less than a decade, this event has grown into a nationwide initiative to highlight the importance and needs for nonprofit organizations throughout thousands of communities. Whether helping a neighbor or helping a stranger, find more information about efforts in your community on Facebook or Twitter, online, or by reaching out to organizations in your area.

 

Volunteer

Charitable organizations don't just ramp up their fundraising efforts during the holidays. They also host many volunteer events to help bring the spirit of the season to the people they help by involving new volunteers and the supporters who may be involved year 'round. Whether you donate your time collecting bags of food for a soup kitchen, singing carols or reading holiday tales at a nursing home, or simply spending time playing cards with people at a senior center, you can find meaningful ways to volunteer in November, December, or, yes, July.

 

Shop Fair Trade

Make the money you spend on gifts even more meaningful by sticking as much as possible to Fair Trade items. Fair Trade verified products help people in developing countries who make goods sold in the U.S. should get a fair wage for the work they do. Supporters of small business efforts globally can make an impact by choosing to spend your holiday shopping dollars with companies that abide by Fair Trade. By giving a gift from a Fair Trade merchant, you're checking off a gift on your shopping list, but also prioritizing philanthropy as part of your holiday priorities.

 

Adopt a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine

Search the internet and you'll find a number of organizations that allow you to adopt and support active duty military members and sign up to send letters, cards, and care packages to an American service member deployed overseas. You can consider recurring giving - an ongoing relationship that will last as long as your soldier is deployed - or you can do a one-time donation for a specific unit by location. You can also find an opportunity to veteran organizations as well. Gather a group of employees and sponsor an entire platoon.

 

Craft something special

You can often find a charitable organization which provides handmade goods to people in need. You might enjoy knitting and can make caps for children with cancer. You could crochet blankets for homeless families or stitch infant clothes for families in need. Your handiwork from throughout the year can make a big difference in someone's life, especially at the holidays. Head to Google to locate nonprofit organizations in your area that needs your creative help, and ask if they have a wish list of items so you can plan to bump up the effort in 2022.

 

Random acts of kindness

When you're in line at the drive-through getting your morning cup of coffee, pay for the car behind you. Rake the leaves in your next-door neighbor's yard or clean the snow off the car for a single parent in your apartment complex. Leave a container of baked goods with a kind note on a neighbor's doorstep. In the grocery store checkout, let the person behind you go ahead of you in line. Double your normal tip at your favorite restaurant. Small acts like this cost little to none, but go a long way toward giving back at Christmas and making their day a little easier, too.

With a little ingenuity and an open heart, it's easy to find ways to give back before, during, and after Christmas. If you also want to support nonprofit organizations monetarily, online donations are always valued during this season of giving - and be sure to check with your employer to see if it supports matching gifts that double your generosity.

Tags: Holiday Smarts, Community