(Family Features) With the season of giving in full swing, try turning your attention away from gift giving in the traditional sense and instead focus on a whole different kind of giving.
Charitable giving comes in many forms, and there are numerous causes in nearly every community that accept donations of more than just money. In addition to giving back to those in need during one of the most critical times of the year, by donating time, money or material items you may reap positive benefits of your own, such as feeling better about yourself, instilling generosity and a sense of giving in your children or family members, or finding a cause that truly inspires you.
These tips can help you find a meaningful way to give this holiday season.
Vivid red kettles and the tinkling of jingle bells are icons of the holiday season. The kettles, which are found outside retail locations throughout communities nationwide and are staffed by both volunteer and paid bell ringers, are part of The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, one of the country’s oldest and largest charitable campaigns. Donations to The Salvation Army stay in the local community where the donation is made, and you can feel extra good about how your money is used within the organization; 82 cents of every dollar is used to support social services that fight hunger, provide shelter and ensure Christmas assistance for families in 5,000 communities nationwide.
During the holiday season and all year long, non-profit organizations thrive on the contributions of volunteers. If you have a special skill or service, check to see if the organization you favor could benefit from your expertise. Many other agencies offer ongoing training so you can easily learn what you need to know to contribute. Remember that the holiday season brings a spike in volunteering each year, so making a pledge to continue giving your time after the holidays have passed (and your schedule is less hectic) is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
Hunger is a problem that numerous non-profit groups work to answer year-round, but the holiday season is a time when that need is pronounced. Giving non-perishable food items or donating money toward an organization that supplies food to those in need are important gestures. A hearty holiday meal is a special blessing for families of all sizes and circumstances, and a relatively meager donation can make a big difference for numerous families in need.
You may not realize it, but there is actually value to the unwanted items you have laying around. Items like automobiles, furniture, household goods and clothing can be donated and converted into cash to benefit charities. Larger items can be picked up at the curb and are often sold at auction with the proceeds going back to the charitable organization. Smaller items may go directly to retail facilities, such as thrift stores, where sales also go to benefit the charity. Some organizations also allow you to provide new toys and gifts for kids in need specifically during the holidays like The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
Find more ways to give back this holiday season and throughout the year at redkettlereason.org.