Giving back for the holidays can be the greatest gift of all: It breaks us out of our routines (making wish lists, rushing to parties, and prepping for all the holiday meals) for a good cause.
If you’re wondering how to make a difference in your community but you don’t have the time to take a long volunteer trip, you’ll be happy to know there are many simple ways to make a positive impact.
Whether you want to use your social media prowess or get the whole family involved, here are five ideas to help you start giving back in the holiday season:
1. Donate to Hurricane Victims
One cause that’s on the top of everyone’s mind is helping those recently devastated by hurricanes. This list by Business Insider offers 30-plus ways to get involved.
For example, you might create and send a care package to a family in need through Adopt A Family USVI, an organization that helps people in the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Once you register, you’ll be matched with a person or family and given a wish list filled with items easily purchased at Walmart. Mail your goods in a large, flat-rate box, and you’ll easily brighten someone’s holiday.
2. Offer Random Acts of Kindness
If you really want to see the effects your good deeds have on others, give your family a challenge: Each day in December, everyone should aim to do one random act of kindness. Here are some ideas:
3. Get Festive in a Holiday 5k
During the holidays, charitable 5k runs pop up in cities across the country, allowing you to make a difference and keep the clan active (double win!).
Holiday 5k runs also get you in the festive spirit, as many groups dress up in holiday garb. Take the Ugly Sweater Run, with locations around the U.S., so you’re bound to find one near you. Break out your favorite ugly holiday sweater for maximum enjoyment of Elf on the Shelf selfies, making fake-snow angels, shooting a marshmallow gun, and relaxing in a life-size snow globe. If you’re looking to step up your holiday spirit game, check out the festive options—and the variety of ugly Christmas sweaters—featured on SHOP.COM.
4. Harness the Power of Social Media
If you’re wondering how to make a difference in your community, one quick, no-cost way is to help local nonprofits get the word out. Find a cause that speaks to you, and make it your mission to create compelling social posts that advertise their campaigns.
Remember, storytelling is usually more effective than bluntly asking people to donate. Share stories of how the organization has made a significant impact, showing your followers how their efforts play an important role in giving back for the holidays.
If you become invested in the organization’s mission, you can also ask how you and your family can get involved in their local charity events.
5. Give the Gift of Food
Food drives are popular around the holidays, but it can be easy to forget to pick up canned food on your weekly shopping trips. Instead, ensure you won’t forget by simply adding extra canned goods to your FreshDirect order and donating them. The grocery delivery service focuses on fresh, high-quality ingredients, making it a one-stop-shop for all of your holiday fare.
If you’d like to take your food donation one step further, check in with local shelters and soup kitchens to see if they are in need of prepared foods. You can use these holiday recipes from FreshDirect to spread the cheer.
Of course, being kind should extend beyond just this season. Hopefully, in giving back for the holidays, your family may find longer-lasting inspiration, spreading the love after the Christmas trees, menorahs, and kinaras come down.