How to Give Back this Holiday Season

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Between the countless sales and never-ending gift wish lists, it’s easy to forget that at the root of the holiday season is togetherness. And what better way to come together than by giving back to those in need? There’s a variety of ways you can give back. So, this December, don’t pass up on the opportunity to get into the true spirit of the holiday and practice gratitude. Below are some ideas to get you started.

**If you love hosting events:**

If you’re a social butterfly who loves planning events, why not use your skills for good this season? Simply find a cause that you are interested in and host a fundraiser for it. In some cases, you can tailor the event to your taste. For example, the [ASPCA’s Holiday Campaign]( allows you to create whatever event you want to help raise funds for animals in need. Want to have a bake sale, organize a gala, or simply ask for donations online? You can do so. Similarly, [Ronald McDonald House Charities]( encourages you to make your favorite activity a part of your fundraiser, which means you can host everything from a karaoke night to a pancake breakfast. You can even find ways to give back at work, such as by organizing a food or coat drive.

**If you want to make volunteering a family event:**

Volunteering as a family is a great way to spend the holiday season. Not only does it allow you to give back to others, but it teaches younger family members the importance of kindness and compassion. It also makes for a warm family memory. Finding the perfect volunteering opportunity will depend on the ages and interest of your family members. If you have small children, consider participating in [Toys for Tots](, a toy drive organized by the US Marines. Your kids can help you pick out toys, allowing them to enjoy a trip to the toy store while learning about the importance of sharing with others. A more involved volunteer opportunity is by helping to fight hunger in your community through [Feeding America]( If staying local is important to you, you can always volunteer as a group through a [local homeless shelter](, food kitchen, or retirement home. If you can’t commit to volunteering through a program, look for simple opportunities to help those around you. Maybe offer to shovel snow for an elderly neighbor or bake cookies for a friend who’s ill.

**If you’re a strong supporter of the military:**

The holidays are a wonderful time to spend with loved ones, but for members of our military and their families, this can be a particularly challenging time. This year, you can let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice by volunteering with organizations focused on supporting our troops and veterans. A great way to honor our military is through [Soldier’s Angels](, a non-profit whose mission is to ensure that no soldier goes unloved. Through them, you can adopt a military family for the holiday season or sign up to send cards to troops overseas, military families, and veterans wounded on 9/11. If you’d like to honor a fallen veteran, you can do so through [Wreaths Across America](, which coordinates wreath-laying ceremonies nationwide. Want to donate your airline miles to help wounded or injured service members get home? You can do so through [Hero Miles]( And of course, you can also volunteer through your local VA hospital. You can visit []( to find the volunteering opportunities near you.

**If you’re passionate about animals:**

Every holiday season, countless pets find themselves in animal shelters. Whether it’s because people go on vacation and don’t want to deal with boarding, or because they receive puppies and kittens as gifts and are overwhelmed, a spike in animal intakes occurs. This leads to overcrowded shelters and causes the animals a lot of stress. In some cases, the lack of resources means that many will be euthanized. Fortunately, there’s several ways you can help. The best way to get involved is to reach out to your [local animal shelter]( and ask what their needs are. During the winter months, shelters are often in need of extra blankets or hold toy drives. If you have extra room at home, considering fostering during the holidays. Many shelters have holiday fostering programs which typically only require you to commit to a few days. Not only does this allow an animal in need to spend the holidays in a warm and loving environment rather than in a shelter, but it gives you all the benefits of having a pet without the lifelong commitment. And who knows, you may just decide to make your furry friend a permanent member of your family.

**If you enjoy being creative:**

When you combine your love for arts and crafts with giving back, amazing things happen. This season you can have fun while giving back by volunteering through programs such as the [Linus Project](, which provides security blankets to children in hospitals nationwide. If you know how to knit or crochet, or want to learn a new skill, you can help make scarves for homeless individuals through [Warm Up America]( And if you’re in New York, you can also volunteer by helping to decorate holiday cards through [God’s Love We Deliver](

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