close up of a volunteer badge on a woman’s shirt

‘Tis the Season…to Give Back with Your Family

Published December 1, 2023

We all have so much to be thankful for, and the holidays are a great opportunity to give thanks, count our blessings, and feel a deep sense of gratitude. But even more important than feeling gratitude is showing it. And you can do that by giving back—to a specific person, an organization, or the community. Here are nine ways to help out during the holiday season.            

1. Spend Time with Someone Who’s Lonely

For a lot of us, the holiday season is all about spending time with our family. But some people don’t have a family, live too far away, or have transportation or health issues that prevent them from spending time with loved ones. So, reach out to an elderly neighbor, a senior center, or a kid that seems like they could use some positive attention. Loneliness tends to get much worse this time of year for some people, but you can help with that. Just a little bit of your time and kindness can go so far.

2. Do a Random Act of Kindness

You never know what someone else is going through, but you can brighten their day with a random act of kindness. Maybe you shovel their driveway, offer to carry in their groceries, or bake them a plate of cookies. No matter how small the act, kindness is never wasted. In fact, a study by UCLA found that it’s contagious—if someone sees you helping a person, they may be more likely to help out someone else. Even the person you’ve shown kindness to may decide to pay it forward. And more kindness in the world is never a bad thing! Need help coming up with kindness ideas? RandomActsOfKindness.org has lots of great prompts. 

3. Volunteer

Have you heard of Indy Hub? It’s a great website that lists all sorts of volunteer organizations and opportunities to get involved. And they’ve organized the opportunities by theme—whether your family has an interest in animals, the arts, or the outdoors, there’s a local organization that could use your help. Volunteering is not only a great way to give back, but also to discover new interests and skills, and make new friends. Take a look through their listings and see if there’s something that speaks to you and your kids.

4. Give Back to the Environment

From the air we breathe to the water we drink, our planet gives us all so much. Giving back could be as simple as picking up trash in your neighborhood, or as involved as teaming up with an environmental organization to plant some trees. There are also lots of little things you can do around the house to help, like turning off the water when you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers, and only turning lights and electronics on when you absolutely need them. Get your kids involved by asking them to make a list of things they could do to conserve resources.

5. Help An Animal

Does your family have a soft spot for animals? Consider adopting a pet from a local shelter. If you can’t commit to owning a pet, you can volunteer to take the shelter dogs on walks or help clean up the facilities. This is a great way to give back during the holidays, but think about signing up to do this year-round, because it’s nice for them to go on walks the rest of the year, too. 

6. Share a Post on Social Media

Social media certainly has its downsides, but it’s important to remember that you can also use it for good. Is there a small business you’d like to elevate? Is there a fundraiser that needs more visibility? Is there an animal rescue putting a pet up for adoption? When you share the right things, you encourage something positive—and you can really end up making a huge difference. 

7. Start a Fundraiser

With the help of social media and the internet, these days it’s easier than ever to start a fundraiser for an organization or a cause you care about. Facebook, for instance, allows you to create fundraisers to raise money for individuals and charities. But you can also reach out to the organization you want to support, ask them what they could use most, and start a drive. For example, does a local shelter need extra coats and warm clothes for the winter season? Post on social media that you’re collecting donations, or team up with a nearby coffee shop or store to get the word out.

8. Donate Gently-Used Items

Take a walk through your house and have an honest conversation with yourself. Do you have more clothes than you wear or kitchenware than you use? Do you have multiples of something you don’t really need? Books you know you’ll never read? There are several organizations around town that take in these donations and use them to help people in need. For example, donations to Thrifty Threads go to help survivors of domestic abuse through the Julian Center. Indianapolis Moms has a great list of several different organizations that are always in need of anything from clothes to books to food items.

9. Donate Your Hair

So much of our identity and self-esteem is wrapped up in our hair. But there are many kids who have medical conditions or have undergone chemotherapy and have lost their hair. If you have long hair and are ready for a change, why not get it cut and donate it to Locks of Love? Locks of Love will take your hair, make it into a realistic-looking wig, and donate it free of charge to a kid in need, helping to give them back their confidence and sense of self. Is your hair not long enough, yet? Make a commitment to grow it out and donate it this time next year. 

We all have so much to be thankful for. But it’s important to remember that some people aren’t as fortunate. So, consider giving back by volunteering, starting a fundraiser, or doing a random act of kindness. There are lots of ways to give back during the holiday season—and all seasons. Can your kids help think up even more ways to help out?

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