While many are making a list of what they will wear or the places they will go this holiday season, others are simply thankful that they have survived another day. This class of people often rely on gifts from those with a big heart to get by every day. So, how can you give back this holiday season?
Giving should never be limited to any time of the year. It should be a way of life. However, there is no time of the year when the plight of the needy is as profound as the holiday season.
With everyone coming together and sharing love and warmth, their loneliness and grief tend to heighten. In other words, the yuletide that brings joy to others overwhelms them with loneliness.
While you wine and dine with your family and friends this holiday season, take a second to look around your neighborhood to find those that have no fireplace to curl around. Identify the homeless that always hurl their belongings around. Find those that go to bed hungry.
The feeling of the Yuletide wears off quickly but you can make it last a lifetime by reaching out to the least privileged around you. There is a deep sense of joy and fulfillment that comes with knowing that someone out there feels better because of you.
No doubt, a lot of people have the heart to give but are often held back by the idea that they don’t have enough to give. It will surprise you to know that most priceless gifts will cost you next to nothing moneywise. However, to the recipient, it means the entire world.
Unsure of how best to give back this holiday season? Below are 15 ideas that should get you started—and hopefully you will make one or two of them a habit. Let this holiday season be a reminder of the importance of giving back.
1| Visit the nursing home
In Africa, parents and grandparents mostly live with their children or grandchildren and spend the rest of their lives in the company of those that they love.
In America and Europe, that feels like a luxury. Seniors are left in nursing homes and often spend the rest of their lives in loneliness.
All over America, there are people in nursing homes that will never get the luxury of a visit from a family member this holiday season.
Visit a nursing home and spend time with a senior that wasn’t expecting a visitor. It will only cost a few hours of your time but the joy you will bring to their heart will be unquantifiable.
2| Hand out lunch to holiday workers
Not everyone has the privilege of a lengthy work leave during the holiday season. Some continue to work while others are celebrating.
Police officers, emergency responders, retail workers, and firefighters are some of those that don’t get to enjoy holiday work leave.
Bring the yuletide feeling to them by handing them lunch. Perhaps, there was more than enough to eat and drink in your home.
Just package some of the excesses to them. It is not really about what you give. The gesture alone will brighten their day.
3| Run for a good cause
The importance of exercise cannot be overstated. A lot of races are usually organized around this time. Instead of just slamming on your sneakers and taking to the field this holiday season, look for a fundraising race to join.
New York Road Runners’ Jingle Bell Jog 5k gives runners the opportunity to raise money for diverse youth programs. The proceeds from that raise go to helping over a quarter of a million children across the globe.
4| Donate old toys
Our brown boxes in the basement or garages are often filled with toys we no longer need. However, there are children all over the world yearning to have one toy in their hands—and wouldn’t mind if it was new or used.
If you have less fortunate children in your neighborhood, donate your old toys to them.
Alternatively, there are lots of not-for-profit organizations across the United States where you can drop your old toys and they will gladly forward them to needy kids.
5| Volunteer with a charity organization
Most charity organizations usually organize events around the holiday season. From reaching out to children, the sick, or prisoners to cleaning public spaces, there is no shortage of events during this period. Sadly. Because everyone is focused on celebrating with their families, there is usually a shortage of hands.
Most organizations that accept toy donations also accept monetary donations. So, even if you don’t have toys, you can donate money to such organizations. These organizations use any money they realize to buy toys that they share with needy children.
6| Send cards with warm messages to the lonely
Our day-to-day busy schedules can make us miss the cues from the lonely people around us. However, the holiday season gives us the opportunity to unwind and really see the people around us.
While it is true that most homeless and seemingly lonely people often need financial help, a card with a warm message can make a great difference.
The card can be handmade if you are familiar with DIY crafts. After making the cards, write warm messages that let lonely people know that they are remembered.
It often takes kinds words to reignite hope in the life of someone on the brink of giving up. When possible, leave a little cash in the middle of the card.
7| Donate blood to blood banks
It is estimated that no fewer than 12,000 people die every day due to a lack of quality blood. If you are not suffering from any underlying health condition, walk into the hospital and have yourself checked to see if you qualify to donate blood.
It takes less than one and a half hours to donate a pint of blood. However, that time can add years to the life of those that may need urgent blood supply like victims of accidents.
Since everybody has blood running through their veins, you can’t say you have nothing to give back.
8| Become Santa
Santa Clause is known for making the wishes of children who have been of good behavior to come true. Every year, children across the United States write letters of what they wish for and send them to Select United States Postal Services. Certain branches of USPS sort letters for Santa from underprivileged kids and keep them in a room for volunteers to read.
Looking for a way to give back this Holiday Season? Visit USPS branches that offer these services and read through some of the letters and fulfill as many wishes as you can. The website of Be An Elf organization is a perfect place to search for USPS branches that offer this service near you.
9| Start a fundraiser for a good cause
Whether it is to assist the starving population in the horn of Africa or to help families devasted by flood in Pakistan, you won’t have to look too far to find a good cause that needs funds to succeed.
If you don’t have money to assist but have a persuasive voice, you can put your voice to use and get others to donate.
Start a fundraising campaign online. If your words are compelling enough, random people will be more than willing to assist. When it comes to feeding the hungry, no amount is too small. A cent thrown into the basket can keep someone alive to see another day.
10| Hand out grocery bags to less privileged families
While you gnaw on your buffet this holiday season, take a moment to ponder on those that are struggling to eat. While some have something to eat, their foods are tasteless. Such families would not mind a hamper full of groceries.
If you have some money to spare, visit a grocery store and get vegetables and spices that will enable such families to have a tasty holiday dish. One thing that is certain is that such families will not forget that Christmas for the rest of their lives—and you will always be at the center of the story.
11| Donate to children in the hospital
Most adults will feel bad if they have to spend Christmas away from their families. The feeling is worst for children in the hospital who cannot be with their friends. You can lighten the burden of a child in the hospital by fulfilling his or her wish.
Seattle Children’s Hospital, in collaboration with Amazon, has created a wish list for young patients. Visit the wish list on Amazon and shop for some of these gifts for the children. Waking up to these gifts by their bedside on Christmas Day will make a huge difference to how they feel.
12| Hand over your flight miles
If you are a regular flier, you should have accumulated flight miles before the holiday season. Instead of redeeming the flight miles that you have accumulated with your airline, you can give them out to a charitable organization like Make-A-Wish.
With these donated flight miles, this charitable organization is able to grant life-changing wish experiences to those that may never be able to afford them. Flight miles don’t expire. So, dump them on the Wishes in Flight program.
13| Wrap gift boxes for a humanitarian cause
Some humanitarian organizations receive gifts from supporters and donors, especially during the holiday season. Before handing out these gifts, they usually wrap them up. Organizations that get lots of gift donations will need more manpower to wrap the gifts.
Also, some of these organizations give out gifts to their donors during the holiday season. Make yourself available to such organizations and volunteer to wrap the gifts. You will lighten their load and make it easier for them to give back to more people.
14| Organize free lessons for children in migrant camps
The number of displaced people living in migrant camps has grown astronomically in 2022. Based on statistics compiled in mid-2022, there are about 103 million displaced people around the world. In addition to living in inhumane conditions, most of these children are unable to go to school.
One way to give back this holiday season is to reach out to camps housing displaced children and offer free lessons to as many children as possible. The icing would be handing out free learning aids to the children. Empowering a child with knowledge is akin to empowering a nation.
15| Shelter a homeless person
There are many homeless people around us. Most times, it is not that we don’t care, but our busy engagements keep them in the shadows. However, the break from work offered by the holiday season gives us the opportunity to really see those around us.
If you have a spare room in your home, you can offer to homeless person shelter for a night or as long as convenient for you. Alternatively, you can send donations to charities that offer shelter for homeless people, your donation may make it possible for them to accommodate one more homeless person.
Nobody is too poor to give. The only reason why you think that you don’t have anything to give is that you have not found a reason compelling enough. Thankfully, giving is an act that can be learned. Use this holiday season as a springboard to develop a culture of giving.
If every privileged person keeps something aside for the less privileged this holiday season, it will go a long way to make sure that no child in the drought-ravaged horn of Africa goes to bed on an empty stomach.
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