Now that the holiday season is upon us, we tend to get busy with the hustle and bustle of preparing food and buying gifts for those who are near and dear to us. With the current state of the economy, and the hardships faced by our neighbors from recent severe weather, most of us are watching our expenses very carefully. But Christmastime is a celebration of the "spirit of giving," and giving doesn't always need to cost much, if anything! We wanted to share some ways that our staff "pays it forward" in the spirit of giving, and encourage our wonderful readers to engage their own families and friends in practicing giving in a wallet-friendly way.
Acknowledge Our Troops
By visiting uso.org, you can send a message of thanks to our troops over the holidays. It takes less than five minutes to send a thank you message, and you can send more than one. Consider sending one each day until Christmas, and for less than two hours of your time, you can express your appreciation to twenty-five members of our armed forces for protecting our rights and freedoms!
Visit the Red Cross to find a place in your community where you can give blood. This is another no-cost gift that is priceless to the recipient, and should also take no more than two hours of your time. Oh, and if you give blood at a Red Cross blood bank, you get a free Keebler cookie! Win-win!
Donate Your Phone
If you have an unused cell phone, or will have one after upgrading during the holidays, you can donate it! Clear out any information in the phone's memory, then mail the phone along with its cords and accessories in a padded envelope to: Call to Protect, 2555 Bishop Circle West, Dexter, MI 48130. The cell phones they receive will go to battered women in shelters across the country.
A service sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of America is Pick Up Please. They will arrange to come to your house and pick up gently used household goods, books, clothes, toys, etc. They then distribute these items to those in need.
Feed The Hungry
There are several ways to nourish those in need. If you do have a few dollars to spare, locate your local food bank and donate a few bags of non-perishable food items. Or, purchase gift cards to local supermarkets and restaurants and give them to someone who you know is struggling financially. If you yourself are short on cash, you can volunteer at a shelter and dish out food to the homeless during mealtimes. Or, prepare a meal or two for a new mom, or for someone who is ill or injured. Feeding the hungry will truly make them feel nurtured and loved!
Time To Give
If you honestly feel like you have nothing tangible to give this year, but still want to be charitable, you can always donate your time. So many people are in need of someone who can run errands for them, transport them from one place to another, or simply keep them company during this time of year. Many folks feel sad and isolated during the holidays, and would love a companion to be in their presence. You could also wash someone's car, clean someone's house, set up a fundraiser to benefit the victims of Superstorm Sandy, or simply use social media to raise awareness of organizations and charities that you feel passionate about. Often our time is the greatest asset we have to share!
These are just some of the easy and budget-friendly ways to give during the holidays. When it comes to giving, the sky's the limit! So we're asking you to open your hearts this season and find a way to foster joy in the lives of those less fortunate. They'll be grateful and you'll experience the happiness that comes from giving!
And in this spirit of giving, we offer you our warmest wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday season!