If you are looking for a meaningful gift to give this holiday season, consider giving the gift of service.
According to a survey by Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest evaluator of charities, more than half of Americans volunteer or donate to their community during the holiday season. You, too, can join these efforts to help positively impact your community.
Don’t know where to begin? Here are five easy ways to give back:
- Deliver warm meals to seniors. According to the Meals on Wheels Association of America, one in six seniors is threated with hunger. Help this organization feed hungry seniors by volunteering at its call center, preparing food or delivering meals around town. To find your local Meals on Wheels location, choose the “Take Action” tab on the official Meals on Wheels Association of America website.
- Help a four-legged friend. The American Humane Association estimates that nearly 8 million animals find their way to a shelter each year. You can help care for these animals by donating pet supplies, volunteering or choosing to give a pet a forever home. Contact your local animal shelter for more ways to get involved.
- Feed the hungry. In 2012 the United States Census Bureau reported that nearly 46.5 million people in the United States were living in poverty. This year, take part in the movement to end hunger by volunteering with Feeding America. This charity works with more than 200 food banks across the United States to feed over 37 million people each year. As a volunteer, you can provide support through clerical work or hands-on tasks such as transporting or repackaging food for local food banks.
- Let your children play Santa. Are you looking for a way to get your child involved in giving back? The U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program can help! This organization gathers unwrapped toy donations for less-fortunate children during the holidays. Allow your younger children to give back by encouraging them to select a new toy to donate to the cause. Older children can help Toys for Tots sort gifts, aid families in selecting gifts or coordinate a toy donation site.
- Lend a hand at a local children’s home or church. Join a local children’s home or church in providing an entire holiday experience for children and families in your area. These organizations typically ask for gift sponsors, meal servers and clerical volunteers to assist in decorating, setting up and organizing holiday events and gift giving for families.
Volunteering in your community will help pets find homes, seniors obtain food and families get support this holiday season. Just remember, when making your list and checking it twice, be sure to add volunteering.