The holiday season isn’t as magical and exciting for everyone. Those struggling may feel a heightened pressure to provide for their family or live up to society’s holiday expectations. Here are 16 ways to give back this holiday season. Taking the time to give back this holiday season may be a small percentage of your time but it will mean much more to those who are dependent and praying and searching for the very thing you may be able to help provide. Explore this list of ideas. Hopefully one of these 16 ideas will inspire how you, your loved ones, your work, or all of the above may coordinate the ways to give back this holiday season.

16 Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

Please comment at the end of this post about the traditions or additional ideas you may have for ways to give back this holiday season.

1. Make A Monetary Donation

If you have the means, one of the easiest things to do is make a donation to help charities and organizations meet their financial goals this holiday season. This is especially great for those who may have really busy schedules or for those who may be struggling with their mental health to add new things or responsibilities. There are so many places that accept donations. Make sure it’s. a credible non-profit or social enterprise. The licensing/tax info will be listed on the websites. Search for a cause you’re passionate about, charities. your area, or ask loved ones for recommendations if you’re not sure where to donate to.

2. Volunteer

The holidays are incredibly busy—not just for shopping and planning social media-worthy events. Many organizations need volunteers due to the people who require additional support this time of the year. If you have the ability to volunteer your time, please reach out to the places near you. If possible, invite loved ones and community members to join you. The more helpers the better!

3. Donate Food To The Local Food Pantry / Food Bank

Call the local food pantry/bank to ask what foods they need this holiday season. Then, go out and purchase those and drop the items off. Trader Joe’s usually has boxes in their stores where non-perishables can be purchased. So, the next time you’re at. the grocery store you could explore one or both of those options. I head that bread, and allergy-friendly items. are especially needed. Make sure there are peanut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan options for those who use the food bank/pantry support. They deserve to have their allergies and dietary restrictions met and supported no matter their financial circumstances.

4. Volunteer At The Local Animal Shelter

Everyone wants to feel loved and cared for—especially animals. While employees may be on vacation, volunteering elsewhere, or spending time with their family this holiday season, the shelter animals don’t have the luxury of leaving unless someone chooses to adopt them. Ask to spend time at the shelter playing, walking, holding, and caring for the pets there.

Another thing to do is volunteer time to photograph the pets, write social media posts featuring them, place photos in the local town magazine/newspaper, and sharing on your personal social media. Many people ask for pets on their holiday list. What better way to help someone or a family find their best friend?

If you’re able to and if you are willing to commit, please consider adopting or at least fostering a pet from the animal shelter. If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to commit long-term and care for the pet, fostering is great. It helps the pet acclimate to a home environment and feel loved while keeping you company until their forever family adopts them.

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5. Shovel Snow, Break Ice, and Salt For Elders & Other Neighbors

An act of kindness goes a long way. Not every volunteer experience needs to be done with an organization or through donations. Often, there are many ways we can give back at home and in our own neighborhoods. Consider shoveling snow, breaking the ice, and salting sidewalks/driveways for those who are disabled, elderly, working a lot, or just for neighbors on your block. This gesture will go a long way and many people will be thankful and grateful for the help.

6. Write Letters To Those Serving In The Military

Those deployed don’t have the opportunity to spend the holiday at home or with loved ones. It can become really lonely—especially during the holidays. Consider writing a letter to our troops and wishing them happy holidays. A few organizations to look into are:

Photo: Photo by Nathan Lemon

7. Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts‑filled with fun toys, school supplies, and hygiene items—and delivers them to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way. For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.

8. Serve Meals To Community Members

Soup kitchens and local churches or community centers may offer to serve meals to those who would be going without during the holidays and on Christmas. Instead of spending all day eating/watching tv or going about other activities, consider sparing a few hours to help prepare and serve meals.

9. Pack Backpacks & Necessities To Donate To Homeless Shelters

Homeless shelters always need socks, underwear, bras, period-care products, and other self-care toiletries like soap, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Please consider packing a backpack with a sleeping bag and these items plus any other items the shelter you’re donating to has said they need. Here are ideas of what to also include in a backpack to donate.

Here’s a directory to help find a homeless shelter near you.

10. Donate Warm Clothes

Women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and other community-house/shelters accepting donations need warm clothes for cold winter months. Please call the shelters you’re looking to donate to and ask what they need more of. Warm and waterproof gloves/mittens, snow pants, a warm parka or coat, and layers will help those needing warmer pieces. Snow boots are also a great item!

11. Adopt A Family

Many churches run community opportunities to “adopt a family”. This doesn’t actually include a legal adoption but helps to financially adopt a family in need this holiday season. Call the churches in your community to see if they’re running the program and how to join.

12. Heifer International

Heifer is an international organization on a mission to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way by supporting and investing alongside local farmers and their communities. They offer monthly, annual, and one-time donations to help make their mission possible. Please consider donating or volunteering if these issues are important to you.

13. The Salvation Army Angel Tree

The Salvation Army is an international organization dedicated to meeting human needs without discrimination. They offer support in many ways. Through rent/mortgage assistance, utility bill assistance, food pantries, homeless shelters, and more.

One of their programs is the Angel Tree. How it works is that they put new clothes and toys under the tree for one million children who usually must go without Christmas gifts. Anonymous donors adopt these little “angels” in an expanding Christmas tradition that makes the season more rewarding for the gift giver and happier for the receiver. This year, please consider taking a few more angels off the tree or donating gifts in bulk. 

14. Help Pay Kid’s School Lunch Accounts

Some school-aged children have lunch account balances that families can’t pay off. Often the children need to purchase lunch because it may be at a lower cost than groceries or in some cases or districts, schools may allow credit to be paid off by the end of the semester or school year. While this helps low-income families in need of assistance for kids to eat lunch, this may hurt them in the long run if they can’t afford to pay off the child’s school lunch balance. In some areas, children won’t be allowed to graduate unless the balance is paid off. Regardless, alleviating this burden would gradually help families and the community. the end of the year.

Here’s how to help pay a kid’s school lunch account balance: call up the school district or local school and ask the administration if you can pay the balance (say what your amount is) to help pay off students’ lunch a balance or those on a reduced lunch program. The school won’t be able to give the name of the child or families, but they can share the steps needed to create. a gift card so to speak that the school may use to help families.

15. Donate Toys

No child wants to wake up to no presents and no family wants to be incapable of providing toys and holiday activities for the kiddos. While not every family may have the means to purchase unnecessary items—including toys and games, if you are able to, please consider buying & donating toys to these organizations.

A great place to start is Toys For Tots. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation oversees the operations and conduct of all local Marine Toys for Tots Campaigns. Find your local campaign, here.

16. Use Your Skills, Passions, & Hobbies

What is it that you know how to do, have, or are passionate about that you could use to give back? Sometimes we can overlook what we have and downplay our capabilities. These are great assets and may help others. For example:

  • Those in finance may be able to volunteer their professional experiences and services to community centers and organizations that help families looking for help identifying how they may be able to stretch their budget or navigate financial hardship.
  • Career Coaches may be able to review resumes for those job searching and help with interview prep or provide networking tips.
  • Photographers may volunteer studio sessions for families who can’t afford to commission family holiday photos.
  • Communications, Marketing, and PR professionals may be able to help organizations with their strategies to reach their end-of-year goals.

Comment any other ideas you may have for ways to give back this holiday season!

The holidays aren’t all about binge-watching holiday romance movies, traveling, or stocking up on holiday-themed books to read. Instead, it holds extra stress, fear, and anxiety for those already facing hardship. By taking the time to do anything on this list, you are helping make at least one person or family’s life better. Thank you!

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