With the Christmas season in full swing, we’re surrounded by non-stop commercial messages proclaiming our need to buy this widget or that gadget for ourselves and our families.
While it’s all well and good to give gifts to the ones you love, it’s a good idea to make sure that you’re remembering the spirit of the season. It’s important to do your best to help out those who are less fortunate than you are as well.
So today I thought I’d put together a list of a few ways that you can give back this holiday season.
Put Together A Gift Box For Less Fortunate Children
There are quite a few organizations for which you can sponsor a needy child for Christmas, or pack a gift box for them. Here are some of my favorites:
- Operation Christmas Child: This is my favorite and my wife and I have packed gift boxes for a boy and girl for several years.
- Angel Tree: This organization gives gifts to the children of prisoners, to help brighten their holidays.
- Toys For Tots: Buy and give toys to less fortunate kids.
- My Two Front Teeth: Sponsor a child’s Christmas wish, with a gallery of children to choose from and help. Most gifts under $25.
All it takes is a little bit of time or money, and you can make a child’s day!
Help Out Our Armed Forces
Our fighting men and women are on the front lines fighting for our freedom, it’s the least we can do to help them out during their time of need. There are multiple organizations that you can give to during the holidays, and year round, that will help. Here are a few of my favorites.
- Luke’s Wings: A group that helps fly wounded warriors and veterans to be with their families when they need them most.
- Operation Give: Operation Give has a program called Operation Christmas Stocking where they send a Christmas stocking stuffed with goodies to soldiers serving overseas. You can also give to provide toys and other items for the soldiers to give out to those in need overseas.
- Fisher House: This organization provides a “home away from home” for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury.
Those are just a few of the great organizations helping our fighting men and women. Have your own? Leave it in the comments!
Serve Others In Your Community
Serving others in your local community is a great way to give back. Here are a few ideas of ways to do that.
- Volunteer at your local soup kitchen or food shelf: Growing up my dad worked at a local community center and food shelf. It was very rewarding to be able to go and help serve others there by serving in a food line, sorting groceries to be given out or just lugging around heavy boxes for other volunteers.
- Register for a website like TheCommon.org: The website can help you to connect with others who have needs in your community, and help you to serve others. Common requests you’ll find on websites like that include requests from single mothers for help in getting their car fixed, yard work for the elderly, meal requests for shut-ins and more.
- Help out a neighbor: Out shoveling your sidewalk this winter? Consider shoveling your neighbhor’s as well, or serving them in some other way!
Give A Gift Card
Our church has a program where families can request financial help when they’re in need. In return our church will often give out gift cards donated by people in the congregation, or put out a request for help to members in the congregation.
We’ve been able to help a lot of families this way, and there is usually a gift card drive around Christmas. Have a gift card you don’t want or need? Donate it! Beyond churches a lot of local community centers and social service agencies will do similar gift card giveaways.
Give The Gift Of Time
Growing up our family all played instruments and sang, so we would go to local retirement homes around the holidays and perform for the people living there, or just visit with them. So many of them are there without family or friends, and just having someone to listen can be a huge lift to their spirits. Even if you don’t perform, you can always go and play games, or just talk and hang out.
Lend a listening ear by visiting a local soup kitchen or shelter and visiting with the people there. Quite often you’ll meet some very interesting people who are just going through some tough times, and need an an open ear.
Giving Helps The Giver
While we like to think that we’re helping others when we give, just as often we’re helping ourselves. Our lives are enriched through the experience, and our generosity in resources, time and spirit will pay off tenfold! So start giving back!
Have your own ideas of how to give back? Leave a comment with your giving ideas below!
Charitable giving is something that means a lot to me, but sometimes I don’t give out of pure skepticism. I worked for a charity before, and the amount of mismanagement, misappropriation of funds, and manipulation of donors was shocking and eye-opening. I quit shortly after started because I literally couldn’t sleep at night. I’ve talked to others who have worked at charities, and I am not the only one who has had this experience.
That being said, I am sure that there are plenty of great charities out there doing important work. I still donate pretty regularly. But I am very, very picky. I do not donate unless I have spent significant time researching. Sites like CharityNavigator.com are great in helping evaluate. It’s a shame it has to come to that, but that experience has scarred me for life.
Peter Anderson says
Sorry to hear about your bad experience, but it’s a good reminder to be good stewards of the gifts we’re giving to make sure they’re put to good use. Honestly, I think it’s probably par for the course unfortunately, which makes it important to do your due diligence before giving. Thanks for the reminder about Charity Navigator.
John S @ Frugal Rules says
Great tips! We like to look for ways to give of our time. I know charities need money, but time is also very important to many of them. I like to be able to see what our contribution is doing and can be much more personal that just giving money.
Robert @ Truly Insurance says
I think giving money is great. I prefer giving up both money and time. Giving money, I can’t see all the benefits. Giving time, I can see and feel the benefits. The help that can be given when no one else has time to give to those in need. Time can be as important as monetary contributions.
DC @ Young Adult Money says
I always tell myself I am going to make a box for Operation Christmas Child, but then I never get it done before the deadline :( I definitely think donating time can be a great way to give back during the Holiday season as well.
Deacon @ Well Kept Wallet says
Giving the gift of time can sometimes be the best gift. It is something that anyone can no matter what their financial situation is like. As far as places I like to give to, there is an organization here in AZ called Barrio Works. They teach at-risk youth how to repair bikes and give them credits for their work. Once they have enough credits they earn a bike. The kids love it and they learn some valuable life lessons!
Marli King says
For me the gift of time suits best. I have had a busy schedule so this time around I am just finding time to help my family, the poor and the church
Lena @ WhatMommyDoes says
I love Samaritan’s Purse! I always try to pack at least two boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This year, I also sponsored another blogger who had a goal of packing lots of boxes.
I have a passion for Backpack Buddies in my area, and I like to use Christmas as a way to give money effortlessly. We always fill backpacks in other people’s names and give them nice note cards saying we did so. I like doing this better than buying an obligatory gift.