The best way to celebrate the holiday season isn’t only showering your children with gifts (even though that’s fun too!), it’s teaching your children to give back.
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Give Back by Volunteering at a Food Bank
There are two different ways you can commit to giving back to a local food bank.
The least time consuming way is to donate money to the organization. For every $1 donated to the Feeding America network of Food Banks, they will provide 11 meals for people.
The second option is to use the find your local food bank tool on Feeding America’s website and volunteer at the nearest location.
Consider volunteering at local food banks year round. The holiday’s are a popular time for people to volunteer so there may be an influx of people wanting to help in the winter months, but the rest of the year the food banks may be struggling to find help.
If you need more help finding a food bank or soup kitchen near you to volunteer at visit www.foodpantries.org
Give Back by Adopting an Angel
The Salvation Army provides a service that is the go between for families who need help providing items for Christmas and people who have the means to help. The items needed for the children are written down (along with their names and ages) on paper angels which are hung on Christmas trees in malls.
Shoppers can then take an angel off of the tree, purchase the items, and bring the items back to the tree! I think it is a great idea to try and adopt an angel close to your children’s ages so that they can grasp the idea that there are children out there just like them who are less fortunate.
Contact your local Salvation Army office to find angel tree locations.
Give Back by Creating a Blessing Bag
Using an old bag or backpack (gallon zip lock baggies work too!) pack up some essentials like toiletries, mittens, and small snacks. Most of these items can be bought at the dollar store, this does not have to cost you a ton of money to do.
You can keep the bag in your car in case you happen to cross paths with a homeless person or you can take a couple of blessing bags to the homeless shelter.
If it is cold where you live, consider adding hand warmers to the bag! They work miracles on hands and feet!
Give Back by Sending Holiday Cards to a Soldier
Operation We Are Here has a giant list of resources to help you figure out how to do this. You can send letters to deployed military personnel, veterans, new recruits, and wounded warriors. There is even a service where you can send soldiers blank cards so that they have something to send home to their own families this holiday season!
Give Back by Assisting Children’s Hospitals
The ways in which you can do this are going to vary by location, but a simple google search should bring up toy/gift lists for children who are living at the children’s hospitals in your area.
If a specific gift list does not come up, most children’s hospitals do accept donations of new items for the children to use. To be on the safe side you should call or find their regulations online before purchasing any items.
Give Back by Donating Winter Coats
There are a few different organizations that offer this service, but One Warm Coat seems to have the most locations (there were 8 in my area).
Have your kids help you pick out some gently worn coats from your family’s closets. They can be coats that are too small for your kids or just coats that you haven’t worn in a long time.
Look up donation locations on the One Warm Coat website and drop them off. You can even organize and host your own coat drive for your area!
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