Make A Difference This Holiday Season

The cold holiday months can be a difficult time for many people. If you’re looking for a way to give back, this time of year is the perfect time to start. Below we have listed six of the simplest and most impactful ways you can spread your holiday spirit this year. Many of our communities participate in these these opportunities; watch for emails from your community about our giving back events.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans:
Sending cards to our military heroes is a simple, yet impactful way to give back this holiday season. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture can brighten the day of those who have given so much to fight for our freedom and those who aren’t able to make it home to their families for the holidays. You can send cards through your local American Red Cross that participates in the Holidays for Heroes program. You can also see if A Million Thanks has a card drop-off location near you.

Collect donations for a food bank:

Food banks are always in need of help, but especially during the holidays. During this time, many people are in the giving spirit and it’s a great opportunity to get friends together to collect donations. You can form your own food drive or gather cash and food donations for a drive run by another organization. Food banks look for nutritious nonperishable items like whole grain foods and canned foods with low sodium. If you’d like to look for a food bank in your area, click here.

Volunteer at a Shelter:
As money is short for many during the holiday season, one of the most rewarding ways to give back is to donate your time. Take time to volunteer at a homeless shelter or a women and children’s shelter to help with meal prep or food service. This allows for the opportunity to meet the individuals you serve and makes for a very gratifying experience. To find a shelter to serve at near you, click here.

Assemble a group of friends to sponsor a family:
Get a group of friends involved in the giving this year by sponsoring a family in need. There are many organizations such as The Salvation Army that gather information for families in need of sponsorship during the holiday season. Groups will be provided with a list of the family members and the children’s ages, clothing sizes and wish lists. After choosing a family, let the holiday shopping begin! Your group is free to spend whatever amount meets the budget. This very rewarding way of giving back ensures that families in need have a holiday they won’t soon forget.

Help Children in Need with Toys for Tots:
A great way to get involved this season is to help children in need by donating new, unused toys to the Toys for Tots Foundation. Toys for Tots is a charity that collects unwrapped donated toys to give to less fortunate families who can’t afford gifts during the holidays. “The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens.”

Friendsgiving

A new trend that has been sweeping the nation is now giving us yet another reason to be excited for the start of the holiday season. Have you ever heard of Friendsgiving?

If not, it’s basically a second Thanksgiving that you celebrate with your closest friends. This popular event is most commonly held sometime at the beginning of November or just after traditional Thanksgiving, allowing for the actual day to be spent with family. No one is quite sure where it started or who exactly coined the term, but more and more people are making this new tradition a part of their yearly celebrations.

If you’re thinking about hosting your own Friendsgiving this year, here are some tips to help make sure everything runs as smooth as mashed potatoes.
The first step is to collect RSVPs and create a sign-up sheet to ensure that all the food bases are covered (but let’s be honest, there’s no such thing as too many potatoes). As for you, the host, it is your job to provide the star of the meal, the turkey (and/ or ham). The rule of thumb for the turkey is to estimate about a pound of turkey per person or a pound and a half if you want leftovers.

Next, while your guests are calling dibs on making their favorite dishes, you should make sure that you have enough place settings for everyone. Yes, paper plates and plastic utensils are easier, but Friendsgiving is a great time for you to impress your friends with your hosting skills. Check out your local thrift shops or stores like At Home for inexpensive plates and utensils.

Remember, when your friends offer their help, take them up on it; more than likely you’ll need an extra table and some chairs. Survey your space and come up with a layout that will work best.You may also want to request that your guest bring one or two decorations to create a festive atmosphere.

Lastly, and most importantly, be creative! The quirkier your Friendsgiving is, the better! Your goal is to create new traditions and experiences that will continue and people will remember for years to come!