I was blessed to have been taught the importance of being thankful for what you have and giving back from a young age. I remember in elementary school my Mom would always donate bags of food during the canned food drive, her time during volunteer events, money during the charity fund raisers, clothing and things we didn't need anymore to the church. She was always trying to help those who needed it. One particular occasion has always stuck out in my mind. I couldn't have been older than 3rd or 4th grade and Mom was superintendent of Sunday School at our church. They had organized a coat donation for local children who needed coats and gloves for winter. I don't remember the specifics of the actual event but just realizing as a child, who was snuggled and warm in her own coat, that another child I KNOW could be cold and without one broke my heart! All those extra gloves I had laying around suddenly seemed so important. I was so mad at myself for taking anything for granted and promised myself no matter how much I had in life there would always be someone with less and I should do something to help them.
Now as an adult I have kept that promise and during the holidays especially I look for ways I can give back. I hope to instill in my own children the importance of helping others by sharing my promise with them and letting them help me to help others during the holiday season. You too can start a tradition with your family of giving back during the year and holiday.
Below are some ideas to get you started.
- Make a food donation. Use the Feeding America Food Bank Locator to find a local food bank near you.
- Make a toy donation. Toys for Tots accepts any new, still in the package toys. Check their website for local donation boxes.
- Donate gently loved books and dvds to your local children's hospital. Check out childsplaycharity.org
- Make holiday cards for residents and sing carols at a local nursing home.
- Use GiveBack.Org to search for a foundation based on location or keyword.
- Adopt a family to buy for this holiday through your local church.
- Write and decorate letters to soldiers overseas for the holiday with Red Cross's Mail to Heros.
- Search for somewhere locally to volunteer at Volunteer Spot!
- Help support independent artists by buying handmade at places like Etsy.com.
- Donate your old cell phones to victims of domestic violence for emergencies (go to ncadv.org and click "donate").
- Donate Stuffed Animals, Baby Blankets, and Children's Books to Project Night Night, a charity for homeless children.
- Donate or volunteer for Meals on Wheels to deliver food.
- Shop online using GoodShop.com. Up to 30% of your purchases are donated to a charity of your choice.
- Vaccinate 50 children around the world against deadly diseases such as meningitis, measles or polio with a $50 donation at doctorswithoutborders.org.
- Find projects for teens that help children in your neighborhood at dosomething.org
- Make a $10 donation to freethechildren.org and a special matching-funds program will turn it into $100 worth of medical supplies for kids around the world.
- Become a mentor to children and teens at icouldbe.org
- Help a student pay for college at scholarshipamerica.org.
- Donate your old computer to worldcomputerexchange.org. They will send it to a child in one of 61 countries.
- Donate blood or marrow and help save a life! givelife.org and www.marrow.org.
- Help underfunded classrooms at donorschoose.org
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by ConAgra Foods. All opinions are 100% honest and that of the author.