It’s easy to get wrapped up in the spirit of the holidays and quickly find yourself caught up in the season’s many parties and meals.
So how to share your good fortune with others? Soup kitchens and food banks are worthy causes, but sometimes they have all the volunteers they need this time of year.
1. Brighten the day for hospital patients or nursing home residents.
Call a local facility and ask if someone needs company during the holidays. Some families live far away, and elderly patients may enjoy time with someone young. If you are thinking of taking siblings, nieces or nephews, find out if there are any age restrictions where you’re visiting. If you can’t spare the time to spend a few hours on-site, send cards — they may be the only ones received and will be cherished throughout the year.
2. Host a meal that feeds body and soul.
Invite friends and family over for a potluck or movie party and ask them to bring along a donation for a food bank (include paper products and diapers!) or a local toy drive. (And think about gifts for teens — even $10 gift cards are welcome.)
3. Hold a fundraiser for a worthy cause, or contribute to one.
Run a silent auction or a raffle. Challenge people on social media to raise money for an important issue. Host an ugly-sweater soiree with an entrance fee and a prize for the best worst sweater. The options are only limited by your imagination. Or, aid in the efforts of others: You can raise money to grant a terminally ill child's wishes via the Make-A-WIsh Foundation, feed low-income children with monthly donations to No Kid Hungry or donate to celebrity chef Alton Brown’s Million Meal Mission, to name a few.
4. Start a coat or socks drive for a local shelter.
Coats and socks are two of the most-needed items among the homeless population. Creating a campaign and pitching it to schools as a competition among classrooms could widen its impact on the next generation’s altruistic side — and help you collect more items.
5. Use your skills creatively.
What are your talents? If you’re an artist, you could create a painting or mural to add color to a room for someone who needs it. A writer might help craft resumes at a homeless shelter. Someone socially inclined could dress up as Santa. If you knit, hospitals and shelters are always looking for donations of blankets and shawls; cancer centers often welcome hats. Or if you’re technically savvy, a nonprofit may need your skills to update a website.