Donate toys. Donate a new, unopened toy to organizations such as Toys for Tots at KWWL TV. You can also take them to a local hospital or women’s shelter. Last year I brought a trunk full of toys to the Salvation Army for their Toy Shop!
Donate food. Give the gift of helping a family to have a hearty meal or two this holiday season by donating to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. Also keep in mind that food banks still have a need in the new year when supplies are more likely to be depleted.
Pay off someone’s layaway. This can be done at the store or many times even over the phone. Simply call a retailer who does layaway and ask the customer service department how you can help pay off someone’s layaway to make their post-holiday season a lot less stressful.
Donate your time. Do not underestimate the value of your time. Serve meals at a soup kitchen. Help veterans and others get to their destination for the holidays. Help people with disabilities wrap gifts for their loved ones. Help your neighbors put up their lights. You can also start by calling a local organization or two to find out their needs during the holiday season.
Sponsor A Needy Family. Contact EMBARC to help a refugee family become self-reliant. Project Connect connects adult refugee newcomers with native Iowan mentors with a focus on English tutoring and developing and achieving newcomer goals in the US.
Make a year-end charitable donation. Especially if you work for an organization that has a matching program. Let whatever amount that you can give get stretched further by your employer for an extra generous donation.
Purchase a gift that gives back. Think conscious consumerism and making purchases from brands that give back in some way, especially during the holiday season. You can choose from our gifts that give back holiday gift guide or select a gift of your choice. If you are not sure which companies are giving back, here is a list of Social Responsibility reports from well-known brands and retailers, so you can decide for yourself where to put your dollars.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Remembering to keep it environmentally-friendly during the holidays benefits the earth, your bills, and future generations. Though the holiday season seems to be a time of wild abundance, there is a definite place for simplicity amidst the chaos. It can still be festive too! One easy example is using your kids’ drawings and artwork to make adorable wrapping paper for gifts. Here are 100 more ideas.
Donate a tree. If you need a gift idea for the person who has everything, or if you want to honor someone special in your life now or someone who has passed, consider this one. Each dollar donated plants a tree in one of America’s national forests. For more information, go to: http://arborday.org.
Give what you can. Even if it is just paying for someone’s coffee at the drive-thru, one little act of kindness can make a huge difference to someone else. That person whose coffee you just paid for might be having a terrible day. Or perhaps that person might just spread the kindness on to others. Before you know it, that one cup of coffee could start an ongoing chain. Isn’t it worth paying for that one cup of coffee to remind someone else that there is kindness in the world?
Remember those who are working on the holidays. Police officers, firefighters, emergency medical responders and the like are working shifts while you are enjoying Christmas dinner or watching your children open their presents. Perhaps you and your family can bring over some baked goods, books or even just a card to show your appreciation.
Spread cheer! Even if you cannot give monetarily. Even if you cannot give with your time. Give what you can. Give a smile. Give a ‘thank you’. Give with your patience. Give with your heart.
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