One of my fondest memories of the holiday season involves giving back. My mother and I both have a soft spot for animals—in fact, neither of us is “allowed” to look at the dogs and cats in the local shelter, for fear we’ll bring another one home. During the holiday season, the shelter animals need a little something extra, so my mom always collected old towels from around the house, and she and I would donate them, along with giant bags of dog and cat food.
I remember feeling a lot of pride when my mom and I made that donation every year, because the shelter was so appreciative. It also felt good to know that we were helping the animals in our own small town. There is something to be said for helping your own, local community: it’s nice to see the fruits of your labor or donation.
Here are 20 great ideas to help your community this holiday season:
- Pack an extra sandwich or two every day, and give them to homeless people.
- Do your holiday shopping at small local businesses, supporting the economy.
- Provide bags of dog and cat food to local animal shelters (like we did).
- Package up leftovers from your holiday feast to provide a warm meal to homeless people.
- Or, take your leftovers to an elderly neighbor.
- Help local hungry families (here are three tips!).
- Donate toys through Toys for Tots. Their site makes it easy to find a nearby drop-off location.
- Give shoes to a homeless person, like this police officer did.
- Provide books and school supplies to your local public schools.
- Rake leaves, shovel snow, clean gutters, or wash windows for a senior citizen.
- Volunteer! A lot of local organizations need extra help around the holidays—try using Volunteer Match.
- Donate old clothing (especially winter jackets) to a local shelter. Before you donate, see if your neighbors have anything they’d like to give as well.
- Visit the seniors at your local convalescent home—this can be a hard time of year for many older Americans. Get a group of friends to go with you and have an informal holiday sing-a-long with the residents.
- Clean up a vacant lot or park.
- Donate blankets to your local homeless shelter or give them directly to someone in need.
- Take cookies and/or treats to your local city hall, police or fire stations, to thank them for their service to the community.
- Bring toys to children in the cancer ward of a local hospital.
- Donate books to your local library.
- Provide winter coats, gloves, or gifts to foster children. Or give to a charity that can make it happen.
- Donate money to local charities. Use our convenient search tool to find organizations in your area that need assistance.
Looking for a great gift? Giving to a loved ones’ local community is a great idea. Search by their zip code, and make the donation in their name.
I love the idea of making a difference in my own community. Just by looking around, you can find a park that requires TLC, stray cats that might like some shelter, or homeless people in need of a meal. What do you see happening in your community? How do you help during the holiday season? Share your comments here, or join the conversation on Facebook!
—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager