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12 Ways You Can Make A Difference This Christmas
If you celebrate Christmas, you know this is a time filled with lots of shopping in busy stores, long lines, and irritated customers. Because this is a religious holiday that celebrates the birthday of Jesus Christ, there is really much more to the day than finding the right shirt and tie for someone who already has a closet full of them.
Maybe it’s time to take a real leap of faith and add a few different activities to your shopping list. Giving to people who really need it and who show their appreciation could make you realize the benefits of “paying it forward.” The holidays are notoriously filled with cynicism, cranky adults, and spoiled children who seem to want every materialistic item on the market.
But the good news is it only takes a minute to turn the atmosphere into one of comradery and joy. Don’t believe it? Try paying for the latte for the person behind you next time you are at a coffee shop. You will find that others will join in, and the next thing you know, people are smiling and excited to show their own gratitude to the next person in line. Here are some additional ways you can make a difference this Christmas.
1. Toys For Tots
National organizations, such as Toys For Tots, have a number of outlets where you can drop off unwrapped new toys. These items go to children who would otherwise not receive anything on Christmas Day. You may even find a tree at your doctor or dentist’s office filled with tags that feature a child’s name, age, and what he or she would like to receive for Christmas. In addition, many local fire stations accept gifts and distribute them to needy children.
2. Local food banks
Food banks are always in need of non-perishable supplies, but the demand is even greater over the holidays. With so many buy-one-get-one free (BOGOs) available at the grocery store, it’s easier than ever to drop off a bag or two at your local food bank.
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3. Animal shelters
If you are in the market for a new pet, visiting a shelter and rescuing an animal that needs a good home is one of the best things you can do this season. Rescue pets are so appreciative of finally going to a good home they will return your investment with love to last a lifetime. If you do not want a pet for yourself, ask about donating enough money so that families that would like to adopt a pet but don’t have the funds could finally do so.
4. Donate a warm coat
There are many places that accept coats and distribute them to homeless people or those in need so they don’t have to go without warm clothing this season. Burlington Factory is one place that you can find out more about through Good Morning America.
5. Nursing home
Nursing facilities are filled with so many elderly people who have no relatives or friends to visit them. They’re sick and alone, so a visit even from a stranger would perk them up. Call a nursing home in your area and find out what items you could bring that would cheer up the residents. It will be a much-appreciated visit.
6. Children’s ward at the local hospital
It’s difficult enough when a child is ill, but when they have to be in the hospital over the holidays, it is especially sad. You can turn their frowns upside down with a visit and some treats and inexpensive toys that will help occupy their time. Check ahead to find out what is allowed – some places only allow store-bought cookies or treats .
7. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
If you don’t have a lot of extra cash yourself, you can always give the gift of time. Food banks usually have to put together meals for hundreds of people, and at Christmas, those numbers jump. Ask what you can do to help bring a festive meal to those in need in your area.
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8. Deliver meals to people who are homebound
Most of us know people who are no longer able to get out or are elderly and unable to make their own meals. Bringing a homebound person a home-cooked meal is a treat they would remember forever. If you don’t know anyone yourself, ask around or call some of the local churches in your area.
9. Invite someone who is alone to Christmas dinner
You may be surprised to find someone you know is unexpectedly going to be alone over the holidays. Circumstances change quickly, and you never know who’s plans have changed and relatives are no longer able to visit. Offer an invite to someone who would otherwise be alone.
10. Offer to babysit for a young couple who need a date night
One of the best gifts you could give new parents is an offer to babysit for them so they can go shopping, finish their to-do list, or just have a much-needed night out.
11. Check with local churches for families in need
You may be able to deliver some groceries to families who don’t have the means to put food on their table. Give a call to the churches in your area – they’ll be in touch with those in need and would welcome a giving hand.
12. Contact the area news stations for families who may be in need
It seems that every year at this time, there is a family that has suffered a devastating loss. With the cold winter weather and faulty heaters, there are so many families who lose everything in a fire right before Christmas. Get in touch with your local news station and see who could use a little help, and you can give them exactly what they need.