I wrote this last year with hopes that everyone would read it, yet it never got published so I am this year. Here is 13 Ways to Give More this Holiday Season. These are simple gifts that are meant to encourage and inspire. Gifts that go beyond what what giving. Here is 12 gift ideas to help other and to truly feel the Holiday Spirit.
1. Nursing Home Visit
With family coming in and decorating to do, nursing homes probably don't even cross your mind. Yet, many elderly are in nursing homes or elderly communities don't get visitors. Many of the elders that are in nursing homes don't have family or friends. Please consider visiting them. If your family or friends are good at singing consider caroling to them or you could bring homemade cards, SUGAR FREE treats or simple ornaments, but that isn't required. Showing up and listening to them will go much further then the gifts.
Also you can call and ask the home if they are having a Holiday party. If so, then you could go out and volunteer on that day. I am sure the home would love the extra help and the seniors would love the new face. If no, then consider throwing them a party. To have a stranger thing of them in this time of year is an ultimate treasure.
2. Hospital Visit
When my brother was in the hospital for weeks on end, they had a cart that came by with gifts each week. He loved being able to pick out a new toy. I don't remember the organization and I am sure it's different for each hospital but consider giving out toys to the hospital. Some hospitals might even allow gently used ones, so it could be a double win. If you don't have the money or toys to donate you could always visit for caroling or volunteering. If you are really lost there is always St Jude and Ronald McDonald that you can call and find out more of what they need or ways you can help.
3. Food for the Hungry
This can be interpenetrated many ways but the most simple way is right in front of you when you are out grocery shopping. Many grocery stores have brown bags that hold food. Just pick one up and pay for you and you already helped one family in need. Simple and easy. Some stores even let you pick out what foods go inside the bag. That would be a great idea for the family and teach little ones that has yummy food.
4. Be an angel
The angel tree project is run by several different organizations but they all have the same mission: to help children whose families can't afford Christmas. You find out where to sponsor in grocery stores. Many have a tree in front with slip of paper on them. The paper tells you the persons name, gift ideas and the information on how to help. I can't wait to pick out my little girl or boy this year. =]
5. Toys for Tots Website
Toys for Tots is probably the most recognized organization this time of year. "Just bring an unwrapped NEW toy to any of our drop off locations" which are easy to find through there website. I know many people who are holding parties to raise money or toys for them. That is just amazing and maybe you could plan one too. Or you can get entertain your kids while teaching a lesson in Walmart-look for toys that other children would love to have.
6. Being Neighborly
Sometimes people need help that right beside us. We speak or see them everyday and have no clue they need help. Do you and your neighbors know what each of you do for the Holidays? Do you throw an open party but they never come? Maybe they don't know. What about them? Maybe they thought you would come. This is a perfect time of year to open communication with your neighbors on your road and community. Try throwing a dinner, shoveling snow or making some sweets to hand out. Maybe your neighbors have new playmates for your kids or a new best friend or maybe a he/she is a new love interest?You never know who you will meet.
7. Blessing Bags
Blessing bags is a new idea on an old social issue-the homeless on the streets. Your not sure if you should give the money but don't want to buy a greasy hamburger for them either. Blessing bags is the answer. They are easy to make and can be a fun activity for friend, families and neighbors. Start with several gallon Ziplocs and fill it with travel sized items, like toothpaste, toothbrush, beef jerky, crackers, hand sanitize, deodorant, mittens, socks, canned fruit, resource list, encouragement card and anything else you can think of. Leave the Blessing bag in your car, somewhere you can access it, for when you come across them again. It has a little bit of everything without worry.
8. Santa Dollar Website
Santa Dollars are a cute way to help the community without having to feel you are spending to much time and money. Santa Dollars are an adorable real dollar with the face of Santa instead of the President. Whenever someone purchase a Santa Dollar a portion of the proceeds does to different charities. Santa Dollars help over 100 charities. The only thing is they can only be physical bought in FL, GA, TN, AL and SC; however, you can purchase them online. How cute would it be to purchase a few and have your elf delver them to the kids? ;]
9. Operation Santa Website
Operation Santa is a non-profit organization that helps the US post service with trying to answer the letters of many children that write to Santa. They donate time and sometimes toys to help children have the best Christmas. Help spread the Christmas spirit to children by lending a hand.
10. One Warm Coat Website
"I really should go" "But baby it's cold outside" -Baby it's cold outside
With the exception of Florida and parts of Texas, everywhere else is a frozen waste land--no offense. Yet I wonder how many people in those states have warm coats. This time of year always reminds me of the story of the Little Match Stick Girl, outside and freeze. You could help children, and adults this season by proving warm coats. Let others enjoy warmth this year.
11. Project Linus Website
How many remember Linus from Charlie Brown? I hope all. Linus is an adorable character from the Charlie Brown Comics and Movies. He is always seen with a blanket. Project Linus wants to provide a sense of security to children that are ill or traumatized by the gift of blankets, just like Linus. Every child should know that they are not alone and there is someone out there looking out for them.
12. Shop with Purpose
Many small shops are trying to help organizations. This year try shopping for Holiday, presents and normal items that give back to the community. Each shop has their own organization they donate to. Try finding a shop that supports what you are looking for and buy from them. Or if you don't know where to look try buying an ornament from Ornaments for Adoption where all the money from the ornaments go to a family trying to adopt.
13. Give Animals Love this season
I already wrote a post about how cats need love this season but animals in general need love. I feel that animals need our help the most because they can't express in words how much help they need or where they hurt. How many times during the holidays do you think of animals? There are animals outside in the cold this season and they need your help. Provide a home, donate food or money or volunteer with a shelter that might be understaffed. Don't forget the furry and unfurry animals of this season, please.