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6 Ways to Give Back During the Holidays

Holiday Giving

I think it’s safe to say most people would agree with me that 1915 is extremely different than 2013. In 1915 most did not own cars (at least not like we do now), televisions were unheard of and the typical response to “I tweeted” was “excuse you.” In 1915 a child’s Christmas list looked something like this.

Now, in 2013, the average American family owns 2.28 vehicles, has more television sets than people in the house, and Twitter averages over 400 million tweets per day. In 2013, a Christmas list looks something like this.

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who struggles with “how much is too much” around Christmastime. Financially, yes, Christmas is a burden, but I also want my daughter to understand what the Holidays are really about. I want her to understand that toys, games and other things are not what bring happiness, and that giving is more important than receiving. That said, I also don’t have a tremendous amount of money to be giving away this season so I decided to look for inexpensive ways to give back to others during the Holiday season.

1. Ring Bells for the Salvation Army. It’s almost impossible to walk into a store and not hear a bell ringing around the holidays. Each year the Salvation Army holds their Red Kettle Campaign from November throughout the holiday season. The Salvation Army helps a variety of causes including adult rehabilitation, veterans affairs, elderly services, hunger relief, housing and homeless services, youth camps and more. If you’re able to, you may also want to consider their Adopt-a-Family program. You can choose the size of the family, number of kids etc. and purchase gifts and a good gift card so a family in need can have a great Christmas. You can also sign up for bell ringing shifts. Shifts are usually 1-2 hours and you can choose where and when you want to ring. Bring the kids along too–it’s a great lesson for kids to learn plus who doesn’t want to donate when there’s an adorable little bell ringer around?

Bell Ringing

 How do you say no to a face like that?!

2. Send cards to troops overseas. It’s a little late to send cards this year (the deadline was December 6th) but this is a good one to keep on the list for next year. The Holiday Mail for Heroes program, sponsored by the American Red Cross collects and screens thousands of cards to send to troops during the holidays. It’s a great way to show our troops that we appreciate their service, especially during the holidays when it’s even more difficult to be away from loved ones.

3. Give your time. There are many things you can do from volunteering at a local soup kitchen, visiting elderly in nursing homes (check beforehand for any restrictions) or even taking the time to visit family members who might be lonely. You can also volunteer at a local food bank. Time is so valuable and giving your time is a great way to show you care.

4. St. Jude’s Holiday Cards. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis is a pediatric treatment and research facility focused on children’s catastrophic diseases. The hospital is a nonprofit medical corporation where no child is denied treatment based on a family’s ability to pay which means that donations are extremely important. If you were planning on sending out cards anyway you can order or print them online off of St. Jude’s website here. When you order or print your cards you’re asked to make a donation which will go directly to St. Jude’s. The cards also feature artwork from actual St. Jude’s patients. If you’re not interested in the cards consider making a donation to the hospital. As I mentioned no child or family is turned away because of their inability to pay. Those without insurance are not turned away and treatments not covered by insurance are covered for families as well. Operating costs are over 1.8 million dollars a day!

5. Bring goodies to a nursing home or to your neighbors. Who doesn’t love baking cookies or other holiday treats? Take your holiday baking tradition a step further this year and bring the goodies to a local nursing home (again, check for restrictions before you drop them off). Have your children help you drop off the goodies and visit with some of the residents. Many might not get a lot of visitors and will enjoy not only the goodies but the company as well. You could also do the same for your neighbors.

6. Be kind. In our tech-crazy, fast-paced world we hear stories of bullying, death, destruction and more on a daily basis. Take the extra time to be kind to those around you. Hold the door for someone, let someone in front of you while driving, remember basic manners, and just slow down. This is especially important if you have children because they’re always watching and will likely follow the example you set.

Take time to enjoy the busy holiday season with your friends, family and loved ones and remember to give back to those who are less fortunate!

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