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5 Fun And Rewarding Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season

Emily Mae Czachor |
December 22, 2013 | 10:30 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter


In the midst of chaotic car races to Macy's and dropping strategic hints about a desired pair of shoes or concert tickets, it seems we often forget the circumstances in which our beloved Christmas holiday was originally developed: through the spirit of giving.

Here are some ways that you can help put presents under the Christmas tree of a family in need. (Creative Commons/Google Images)
Here are some ways that you can help put presents under the Christmas tree of a family in need. (Creative Commons/Google Images)

Here are 5 easy and rewarding ways to give back during the Christmas holiday:

1) Shop For A Family In Need

Many local churches host annual Christmas-In-A-Box charity funds, in which members of the community (including non-parishioners) are assigned an anonymous family in need for which to purchase holiday gifts. Enjoy a shopping trip with your family to locate the necessities for your condensed gift basket - winter coats, pajamas, hats, and scarves. Throw in a few multicolored candy canes, or a small stuffed toy if the family includes young children. Then, complete your Christmas-In-A-Box with multicolored wrapping paper, and allow the church (or other organization) to deliver the contents to the family. You can make use of your Christmas shopping skills, all while making the very occurrence of the holiday celebration possible for another family. Another option? Help a veteran or student in need via Volunteers of America's online gift shop

2) Donate To A Charitable Organization

The Salvation Army is perpetually searching for community assistance, but the holiday season proves to be an especially pressing time for the organization. The Salvation Army has been distributing food baskets and gifts to neighborhoods, most recently in the Rochester Area. The organization is nationwide, and are better able to accomplish their goals with your help. If you are not feeling creative, you can simply donate to your local sector of the Salvation Army. However, it is equally possible to donate clothing, furniture, and other useful items that the institution can distribute as holiday gifts. Click here to learn more about how to donate.

3) Serve Those in Need

Soup kitchens are overflowing with people during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and sometimes dangerously understaffed. People in need turn to soup kitchens on holidays with the hopes of finding some semblance of Christmas nourishment. If you're planning on spending the holiday in your home town, set aside a few hours from your afternoon and volunteer to serve an important meal to individuals who may not have the opportunity to engage in such a tradition otherwise. If your family volunteers alongside you, you'll not only provide the soup kitchen with extra sets of valuable hands, but share in the bonding experience of family holiday meals. 

4) Donate Your Unwanted Tech Items

Atop your Christmas wish list is the newest edition of the iPhone (complete with a laser beam, a hologram monitor, and mind-reading software). Instead of allowing your current iPhone to collect dust in the back of your closet alongside your discarded iPhone 3 and 4, donate to the Cell Phone for Survivors campaign. The organization donates the proceeds from the technological components to the National Network to End Domestic Violence's Safety Net program. The money increases the necessary funds to educate survivors of domestic violence about how to remain safe using technology. You have the ability to provide the gift of awareness as well as safety this holiday season, without interfering with your own wallet or Christmas wish-list.

5) Shop with Your Conscious

Perhaps people shy away from volunteer work during the holidays because they are overwhelmed with crippling desire for a new handbag, or a specific list of toys for a young present recipient. However, this year, UNICEF has provided a simple solution to the problem. The organization, which benefits both mother and children's health and safety in underdeveloped nations, has teamed up with popular western labels - including Gucci and IKEA - in order to raise funds. Creative Director of Gucci, Frida Giannini, has designed the Gucci "Nice" bag, which is sold in support of UNICEF, with 25% of the retail price benefiting initiatives to improve schools in Africa and Asia. So, if you are planning on splurging on an accessory, consider this handbag to benefit underprivileged children with educational and living improvements. 

Make sure that you enjoy your holiday season; indulge in the richest of desserts, the craftiest of presents, and the coziest of moments with your families. And do so while spreading the holiday cheer with a few kind acts that embody the original meaning of Christmas.

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



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