8 Simple and Meaningful Ways to Give Back this Holiday
By Ivy on December 20th, 2011
Forget that last-minute trip to the mall and take a break from countless hours of online shopping. If you really want to give a meaningful gift this holiday or if you want to celebrate a cause that you believe in, take a look at OOM’s Holiday Gift Guide to Giving Back. Bonus: it just so happens that these ideas also make for great last-minute gifts.
We’ve put together a list of our favorite ideas –- some moved us to tears, others compelled us to act. As always, we welcome your suggestions in the comments. Happy holidays!
Still set on going to the mall and eating those huge mall pretzels?
Anne: “For any mall shoppers, I suggest on your final trip to buy one extra gift for a child in need. I do this every year because almost every mall has a drop-off station for Toys for Tots or a similar nonprofit that will appreciate another donation. It’s all right there at your convenience; plus, it will make a child’s Christmas morning.”
Want to provide more books to kids in need, but not sure where to start?
Research shows that there’s a correlation between having books at home and academic success. In these challenging economic times, many families can’t afford books. So how do you reach those kids and provide them with the books they deserve? Recently, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof came up with his list of Gifts that Say You Care and featured the non-profit Reading is Fundamental (RIF), which provides books to kids in need. RIF just celebrated its 45th anniversary this year, but it needs funding more than ever. If you contribute to RIF by December 31, 2011, your donation will be matched. That’s like giving two gifts!
Reach Out and Read is another non-profit literacy organization that provides books to kids and families who can’t afford them. Without costing you any money, you can join Scholastic’s new campaign “One Million Bookprints for One Million Books” and help donate up to one million books to Reach Out and Read! Just visit Scholastic’s YouAreWhatYouRead.com site, create a Bookprint to show the five books that have shaped your life, and we’ll donate a book on your behalf.
Who said kids only want toys?
Morgan: “My niece and nephew get inundated with toys, so I try to do something special. I choose a charity that reflects who they are (ie, my niece dances and my nephew was named after a band, so I selected a dance and musical charity) and make a donation in their name. I pair it with a gift that corresponds to the charity — a picture book about a musician and a book about a dancer. I explain why I chose the charities in a special journal that they’ll keep forever. Not only is it doing good by donating funds to causes I believe in, but when they’re older, they’ll be able to see concrete ways they’ve made a difference in the world. My suggestion for people struggling to find meaningful gifts is to find a program that is doing something you or the recipient believes in!”
How can you make giving back a family affair?
Michael: “This year, my church had a giving tree that we could select ornaments and buy a gift for the child on there. Even though Lydia is too young to know what she was up to, she picked out the ornaments and helped me deposit the presents back under the tree a week later.”
Is it too late to give back this holiday?
Nadia: “Never! An anonymous donor went into Kmart and paid strangers’ layaway accounts so they would be able to bring home their holiday gifts! The REALLY amazing part is that this started spreading! People around the country have been paying off bills – especially for accounts with toys and clothes for kids. Many of the donors are in their 20s! Its incredible how many people are joining in to give back anonymously and help people less fortunate to make sure that they too can have a happy holiday.”
Kristen: “I like to bring some homemade food to a local shelter around the holidays, but it’s also nice to do the same thing again a few months later… shelters get a lot of food during the holidays when people are thinking about being charitable, but not as much during the rest of the year. Giving back can happen year-round!”
Want to give back to your local community?
Dante: “This year, my family is donating to the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh. The Carnegie system, like so many others in the country, has seen its budget slashed in recent years, which is a shame since it’s a vital part of the community, especially during this moment of economic hardship. The Carnegie Library has given us so much in the past, and continues to give us a lot now, so we thought it was time to return the favor, if only in our modest way. But all public libraries accept donations, and by helping the library you’re helping many, many people in the community, as well.”
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