‘Tis the season for all the best things, The wonderfully enchanting things some of us wait many months for. Visions of winter wonderlands and ice skating dance in our heads, indulgent foods and hot chocolates by the fire taste like heaven, family traditions and time with friends brighten our souls, and perfectly wrapped packages and heartfelt gifts of love spread cheer to all! Most importantly, in keeping with the warm and loving spirit the last few months of the year bring, it is truly the season of giving.
Whether you are a regular ace when it comes to charity work or you simply feel it is about time you put some good out into the universe, the holiday season is the perfect time for sharing love and good will. It is possible you have a few extra dollars laying around or have decided to donate your weekly Starbucks allowance to a good cause, in which case I applaud both your fiscal responsibility and willpower! It is also highly possible that you are hoping the couch cushions start producing quarters in order to get you through the holidays.
Either way, I encourage you to not let your financial situation overshadow your desire to do something good for someone else. When it comes to giving back, there truly is no donation too small and valuable contributions don’t always have a monetary value. So, are you ready to get up, get out and give back this holiday season? Here are a few charities that are ready and willing to accept donations of time, knowledge, talent and of course, a few extra dollars if you have them to give!
Thousands of service men and women spend the holidays away from family and friends every year. This season, you can help brighten their spirits, wherever they may be, by sending a holiday card through the American Red Cross’s Holiday Mail For Heroes campaign. Simply buy or make a card, include a message for a happy and safe holiday, and send it off to the Red Cross; the Holiday Mail For Heroes team will ensure all messages reach a military member in need of a little holiday cheer. Feeling extra grateful for the men and women fighting for our country? Host a card making party with friends and family. There is no limit to the number of cards that can be sent and no such thing as too much holiday cheer.
Are you tech savvy? Sure you are! Our world is nothing if not connected these days. This season, share your knowledge of all things technology related with a grandparent or senior citizen in your area, helping them stay connected to friends and family during the holidays and all year round. Studies have shown that depression affects 6.5 million of the 35 million Americans age 65 and older and it has been discovered that internet use reduces the risk of depression in the elderly by 34%. No one should be depressed during the holidays and this season you can reduce that risk with a small donation of your time and knowledge to the Grandparents Gone Wired campaign. The many hours you’ve spent perfecting the art of FaceTime and Facebook have officially paid off now that you can use your skills to help a grandparent see their grandchild during the holidays.
It is rare that gift giving can save a life but, this season it is completely possible when you team up with the National Bone Marrow Registry. Giving back this season is as easy as taking part in the Give A Spit About Cancer campaign, an effort encouraging young people to have their mouths swabbed in order to register their bone marrow type. Better yet, host a spit party and get all of your friends and family involved! You could end up saving multiple lives and there is no better or more precious gift than the gift of life.
If the iPhone 5 sits atop your wish list this season the Cell Phone For Survivors campaign is the perfect way for you to give back while making room for your soon-to-be holiday loot. Rather than tossing your old phone into a junk drawer to collect dust, donate it to this worthy cause. All the money made from the donated cell phone parts benefits the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net program. By simply donating your old cell phone you are helping to raise the funds needed to educate survivors of domestic violence how to stay safe using technology. The amazing team at Do Something will even provide you with a free shipping label to ensure your phone arrives to the appropriate partners at no cost to you. Out with the old, in with the new and on with the fundraising!
It has been quite the year for equal rights and advancement within the LGBT community but, there is much work to be done and you can support the continued push for equality this holiday season through the Ally Coalition. Whether you are looking for the perfect gift for a philanthropic friend, have a loved one personally invested in the equal rights fight or are in need of a little holiday treat for yourself, the Ally Coalition boasts a gift shop that will allow all supporters to show their pride and support. Organization memberships are also available for varying donation amounts so, register a loved one and fill their stocking with their membership button and t-shirt. Passionate about equal rights but don’t have the funds for gifting? The Ally Coalition is always looking for volunteers so head to the website and click on your state for ways to give back and support the fight for equal rights. ‘Tis the season to spread love, equal love that is, to all.
A personal favorite of mine, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is no stranger to the donation game. With a lofty goal of ending childhood cancer and providing excellent care to patients and their families in the process, the team at St. Jude’s provides multiple opportunities to donate time and money. One of the more personal and unique options for giving back is the ability to send a holiday card designed by a St. Jude’s patient. Perhaps there is that one person on your list that is impossible to buy for or you simply feel like spreading holiday cheer that can’t be bought in a store. With a suggested minimum donation of just five dollars, you can send a holiday card to a loved one, letting them know you made a donation to the children of St. Jude’s in their honor. Here I believe we have simultaneously found a wonderful, easy, inexpensive way to give back and a gift that is sure to be a hit with anyone on your list.
Families all across America are living in poverty, barely able to afford groceries and necessities, much less toys for their children to open during the holiday season, But, each of us has the ability to put the magic back into this special time of year for kids in need. Toys For Tots delivers warehouses full of toys every year to less fortunate children of all ages and being a part of these special deliveries is as easy as dropping off a toy or volunteering at the warehouse. Feeling especially jolly this season? Visit the Toys For Tots website to learn about toy drop offs, organizing toy drives and other volunteer needs this season.
We are all certainly familiar with The Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign; volunteer Santas ringing their bells are nearly as iconic as the bearded man himself. While dropping your spare change or a few extra dollars into the famous red kettle is a welcome and lovely act of holiday kindness, let it be known that you can also become a digital bell-ringing Santa Claus by starting your very own kettle. Friends, family and coworkers alike can drop their digital spare change into your fund from the comfort of their home computer. Santa suit not required.
Be A Local Charity Champion
Well established charities and campaigns are an excellent way to give back but, don’t forget there is likely a need for charitable giving in your very own community, especially if you are interested in donating your valuable time. Check out the local newspaper for volunteer opportunities with animal shelters or soup kitchens, call around to senior centers or hospitals who may need help decorating for the holidays or take the lead in organizing a food or clothing drive through your church, school or workplace. We often don’t realize the large impact a small act of kindness can have or forget that our own talents and time are invaluable resources. Share whatever it is you have with someone this holiday season, remembering that no act of giving is too small!
Ready to spread cheer and goodwill as we close out 2013? I hope you are inspired to do something wonderful for others this holiday season and if you do, share your acts of love and kindness with us here at HelloGiggles! There are few things we love more than stories of giving back and we certainly love hearing from you!
Happy Holidays to all!
Feature Image via Brighter Beginnings.