During the holiday season, we often start thinking about what we can do to help others. The “spirit of the season” often prompts us to want to do more for others. But it can be difficult to know where to go in order to get the best bang for your donation buck — or even to figure out where to go if you want to help in general. You can go to Charity Navigator to see rankings of how effective your cash donation will be when made to different organizations, but you can also visit one of these four web sites to do a little more for others:
- Volunteer Match: This is a pretty cool web site that allows you to find local places to volunteer by typing in your ZIP code. You can also search by keyword, according to what interests you. I found that Meals on Wheels is an option, as well as helping at the local chapter of the American Red Cross. My local food pantry isn’t on the list, but I know where to go for that.
- The Holiday Project: If you are interested in brightening the holidays for those in nursing homes, you can check into The Holiday Project. According to the project’s web site, 60% of the three million people confined to institutions do not receive visitors. The Holiday Project helps those in hospitals and nursing homes receive a little holiday cheer. There are a number of options for helping out, and you can also donate cash.
- Welcome Back Veterans: This is a rather interesting charity devoted to helping veterans. You can do something as simple as write a thank you note, or you can volunteer to help provide rides for those who need a lift to the nearest VA hospital. There is also good information about PTSD and what you can do to help veterans suffering from the disorder.
- Cards that Give: You can support the charity of your choice by providing an easy place to shop for greeting cards designed by non-profits as fundraisers. It’s a creative and fun way to support a good cause. Plus, you can raise awareness when you send the greeting cards out to friends and family.
You don’t have to go online to find ways to give back during the holidays, of course. There are a number of places in your own community that you can probably donate to — whether you donate your time, talents or cash (which is also a good tax strategy). Check with local children’s shelters, homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, thrift shops and your faith congregation. Keep an eye out for Sub for Santa, Toys for Tots and Angel Tree programs. You can also check with community organizations, such as the YMCA, Kiwanis or even the Chamber of Commerce to see what sorts of programs are going on in your community.
This is the perfect time of year to remember others and give of yourself. Besides, if you make it a holiday tradition, it provides the perfect opportunity to teach your children about being charitable as they grow older. Look for chances to serve as a family when possible. You might enjoy it so much that it becomes a regular habit throughout the year, and not just something you do during the holidays.