Ready or not, the holiday season has arrived. Decorations, holiday music and gift gadgets are already flooding the aisles at stores. It can be easy to get swept up in the holiday hype to buy our favorite material objects, but it’s much more rewarding to do something good for your community during the holidays. There’s something incomparable about knowing that you spent your time bettering someone else’s life. Even the smallest acts of charity or kindness can change the course of someone’s day, week or even life. If you’re looking to make an impact on your community this holiday season, check out some great ways to get started below.
1. Find a charity you’re passionate about
What pulls on your heartstrings? Do you have a soft spot for kids or do you find yourself spending all your free time taking care of animals? A great way to find charities: do a search based on what you’re passionate about. For example, if family is important to you, donate $1, $3 or $5 at your local McDonald’s through November 19 for their national fundraiser benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities. This charity provides comfort, support and resources for families with sick children and helps them get access and proximity to the care and treatment they need. Go one step further: instead of asking for gifts, have your family and friends contribute to your charity of choice as an excellent alternative, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have everything you need, or can afford to buy it for yourself later.
2. Support a family you know
Do you know anyone who has had a difficult year? The holidays are generally thought of as a positive time for everyone, but the holidays can be a time of pain for people who feel extra pressure to provide what they can’t afford while everyone else is out spending money left and right. You can make a positive impact on a family who is struggling by giving of your quality time, a gift, a homemade meal or just displaying your friendship and support. Focusing on what truly matters, like friendship and support, might change their overall feelings about the holiday season for the better.
3. Volunteer your time
Money is far from the only way to contribute to charities. You can always volunteer your time and efforts. There are always people, places and organizations that can benefit from your time: a food bank, a soup kitchen, a shelter, a charity like the Ronald McDonald House or even an elderly neighbor that needs help raking leaves or shoveling snow from their driveway. [RN1] These are real burdens for some people that we tend to lack awareness of because of the busyness of our everyday lives. These opportunities are fairly easy to find this time of year, and once you’ve made the connection during the holidays, consider keeping the tradition going throughout the year. There are people in need 365 days a year and incorporating time with others that you wouldn’t normally interact with can also enrich your life.
4. Cut back
Overspending, overbuying and over-stuffing your closet can sometimes cause more stress than anything. Think about what you need and who else might benefit from what you have. Maybe you have dresses in the closet that still have tags on them or extra sweaters and coats that are still in good condition, but you no longer need. Donate those items and think about how you can treat yourself with more than material objects. A rich life comes from the company you keep and widening your scope of compassion for those around you. Keep it simple!
5. Start where you are
Do you go to church every Sunday? See how you can contribute or volunteer there. See what options your company has for donating a portion of your paycheck to charitable organizations. Get involved with student volunteer groups at school. You’d be surprised at the opportunities that exist exactly where you are. Engage in those first and see how quickly and easily you can give back every day.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with McDonald's.