Small Ways To Give Big This Holiday Season

>> Friday, November 6, 2009

This is a repost of a series I wrote last year. As we approach the holiday season I thought it would be a good reminder of ways we can give to others. Throughout the year I try to post opportunities for giving when I come across them. In the days and weeks ahead I will be making more of an effort to share more ways you can give to others this holiday season and beyond.

There's no doubt these are challenging financial times for many people. Budgets are tight and it's all some people can do to pay their bills. There is often very little, if anything, left over to give to others. We're a week a way from Thanksgiving, a day set aside to focus on our blessings no matter what our situation and give thanks for what we do have. In that spirit, I am starting a seven day series on Small Ways to Give Big. Each day I will introduce a way that you can give to others that requires very little, if any, money. I hope you will join me over the next week as we learn how to give to others, even when we don't think we can.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #1
Winter Heating Donations-Most electric/gas companies have heating assistance programs. You can add money to your bill that will be directed to those programs. It doesn't have to be a large amount each month. Simply rounding up the amount you pay will help assist those in need. For example, if your bill is $142 round up the amount of your payment to $145 and put $3 in the heating assistance box on your bill. If you averaged a $3 donation over the course of a year you will have donated $36 and because you did it in small increments you won't even miss it. That $36 will help bridge the gap for someone unable to pay their bill.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #2
Click it to Give it-There are a multitude of websites where you can click on a link and a donation will be made to a particular cause. This requires no money from you, just a minute of your time. I've compiled a list of some places where you can click it to give it.

Free Rice--This one has a fun twist. Play a game and with each correct answer, grains of rice will be donated to feed the hungry around the world.

The Hunger Site--each click provides 1.1 cups of food to the hungry.

The Breast Cancer Site--help women in need recieve mammograms.

The Child Health Site--help provide simple and effective treatments to keep children around the world healthy.

The Literacy Site--help fund free books for children.

The Rainforest Site--help protect 11.4 square feet of rainforest with each click.

The Animal Rescue Site--provide food for animals living in rescue shelters.

click2donate--a full page of causes to donate to with a click. Sponsored by Care2.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip#3
Coupon Shopping Freebies--If you're a coupon shopper then you know there are always free items to be had. Some are free with coupons, others through rebates, and even more through rewards dollar type programs like Register Rewards found at Walgreens and Extra Care Bucks which can be earned at CVS. Sometimes with a coupon these items are even better than free. But what do you do if these are items that you're family just doesn't use? Well, you buy them(for free) anyway and donate them. Most of the time these are health and beauty items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap & bodywash, lotion, shampoo, razors & feminine care products. These items are always welcome at places like shelters for abused women & children, homes for at risk teens & homeless shelters. I have a shelf in my pantry dedicated to storing these items until I'm ready to donate them. I've heard of others that keep a box where they place the items as they purchase them. When the box is full, they donate the items. This is one of the easiest ways to bless others with our abundance.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #4
Be a Good Neighbor--Your neighborhood is filled with opportunities to give. When you're out raking your leaves, rake your neighbor's leaves too. When that big snowfall comes, shovel your neighbor's driveway as well as your own. If you're making chili or soup for dinner, double the amount you're making and take some over to one of your neighbors. Craving Chocolate Chip cookies, whip up a batch and take part of them over to your neighbor. Invite your neighbors kids over to play with your own kids in the afternoon from time to time. You never know when that mom or dad just might need a break. The opportunities to give to your neighbors are truly endless. And the really wonderful thing about being a good neighbor is that you will be establishing and building friendships as well as building a greater sense of community.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #5
Letters for our Troops--Chances are you have a friend or family member or know someone through your church, work or community that is serving or has served in our military. Our troops are separated from their families for extended periods of time and are putting their lives on the line for us and those around the world who need our help. A letter, card or care package can go a long way in lifting the spirits of a war weary soldier. Organize a card and letter writing campaign at your child's school, at your church or through a community organization and bring a smile to the face of a young man or woman serving this country. You can find a list of organizations with more information about where to send the letters
here. It will only take a bit of your time and the cost of mailing the letters. A very small sacrifice compared to that of our service men and women.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #6
Foodbank Donations--Foodbanks can stretch a dollar like nobody's business. My local foodbank suggests it can provide 8 meals for each $1 donated. So even if you're living on tight budget with very little wiggle room, you can still make a difference. I will give a few examples but these will reflect my experience with my local food bank. You will have to research what is available in your area. Okay, say you can spare $5 a month. Through my foodbank that would provide 40 meals a month or 480 meals a year. Borrowing from Tip #3, perhaps your grocery store has a rockin' deal on some non-perishable food. Some stores provide drop barrels from local foodbanks where you can place food items. So take those rockin' deals you got and place them in the barrel on your way out the door. You don't have to give monetarily though. Foodbanks are always looking for volunteers. Sort food, help with administrative duties like filing and mailings, answer the phones, sponsor a food drive or assist with planning special event fundraisers. The opportunities to help stop hunger by giving to your local foodbank are endless. All you have to do is figure out which way works best for you.

Small Ways to Give Big Tip #7
Open your Home this Holiday Season--As we approach the holidays, our thoughts often turn to our families. We look forward to eating good meals, sharing laughs and creating memories with those closest to us. But if you look around you, there are people everywhere who don't have anywhere to go for the holidays. Perhaps it's a new family that just moved into the area and can't travel home for the holidays. Maybe it's an elderly neighbor or church member who normally spends the holidays alone. Perhaps it's a single parent at work whose kids are with the other parent this holiday. This suggestion is inspired by an anonymous person at my church. This year this person gave one of the pastors a stack of 20 invitations to Thanksgiving dinner and charged him with finding 20 people in the community to invite who needed a place to go for the holiday. The anonymous host didn't want to know who would be coming. They just said they would have enough food for 20 guests and looked forward to sharing the day giving thanks with those invited. I can't even tell you how much I would love to be in that house Thanksgiving day. I imagine that home will be filled with the spirit of Thanksgiving. Such a grand gesture, while lovely, is certainly not necessary. Inviting just one person, one couple, one family to share one day, one meal with your family this holiday season will be a blessing to them and to yourself.

I hope that in reading this series you have discovered new ways to give to others and that you will be blessed in your efforts to do so.


Sharon November 13, 2009 at 7:55 AM  

great ideas! I'm learning to give with my talents... This month I'm offering 30 bloggers free headers or buttons... I've already had 20 takers, but there is room for ten more!

ShelMom2Seven November 13, 2009 at 12:57 PM  

Those are such great suggestions, thanks! You've definitely inspired me:-)

Joy November 19, 2009 at 6:24 AM  

Hey! Love this post … just wanted to let you know that I’ve linked to it over on my blog today.
Happy Thursday!!
~ Joy :)

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