Halfway through the week & one day closer to Christmas!
And speaking of the Holidays, I wanted to take a break from the gift guides and the products and the stuff. Listen, I made a 40+ page powerpoint of my wishlist so I get it. Tis’ the season. There are sales and there are things everywhere. It’s all stuff, stuff, stuff. But, sometimes I feel like Cindy Lou Who looking for the meaning of Christmas and wondering why “everyone seems so kerbabbled, isn’t this just a little superfluous?”
I think the Holidays should be a time to reflect and to be grateful for everything we have in our lives. And in doing so, I think it’s important to take a step back and stop focusing on ourselves for a minute and instead think about others that may be struggling this time of the year or just trying to do something nice for someone JUST BECAUSE. So today, I wanted to share 5 ways to give back this Holiday season.
I know the Holidays can be tough and we all have different financial situations so I wanted to share ideas that were big and small because I think even the smallest bit can help and even spark some inspiration on how you can help out in your own community. I also definitely wish I had done this earlier, but feel free to bookmark for next year!!
SHOP FOR A CAUSE – SMILE.AMAZON.COM
It’s Amazon… but better! I think this is the easiest way to give back because you’re probably already shopping on Amazon. When you go to Amazon, there is normally a pop up telling you about Smile.Amazon. I’ve ignored it for forever because I just didn’t know what it was until my friend Anna and I were brainstorming for this post and she brought it up. Basically you can pick a charity to contribute to and whenever you shop on Amazon, you go to Smile.Amazon.Com instead of just Amazon.com and a portion of your purchase will be donated to the charity of your choice. I’m currently donating to The Fisher House Foundation which benefits veterans and their families. We’re all gonna shop anyways so it would be nice if we could still contribute to a great cause.
And speaking of shopping for a great cause, just want to give an honorable mention to Love Your Melon. I discovered the brand when they released their Disney collection, but after finding out they donate half of their profit to fight pediatric cancer, I was even happier to support the brand. There are so many small businesses out there trying to do good in the world and while I know it’s easier to shop at those big brand names, it’s also great to support those small brands and give back to a good cause.
RALLY YOUR FAMILY OR COWORKERS TO HELP A GOOD CAUSE
Most of the companies I’ve worked for always have some kind of way to give back during the Holiday season. I’ve found a lot of great charities and have been really inspired to give back over the past few years because of this.
My best friend Anna, always tries to round up everyone to support Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan’s Purse. Basically you get a shoe box and pick who you would like to shop for – a boy or girl and then you pick their age – 2 to 4, 5 to 9 and 10 to 14. There are a few items you can not include due to customs, but you work to fill up the box with toys and toiletries for your kid. My mom and I did this last year and had so much fun and decided to do two this year, one for a boy and one for a girl. The older kids tend to be the forgotten ones so we always try to build a box for them. We include toiletries like deodorant and chapstick, add in school supplies or art supplies like pencils, notebooks, coloring books and crayons and then add in a fun toy. This year I picked up a box of legos for my boy and a Barbie doll for my girl. If you’re not up for shopping you can donate $25 and the team will build a box for you.
At Gap, we had a similar cause and worked with New York Cares Winter Wishes to fulfill wishlists from children from low income areas around the city. I was so excited that I picked up three different letters. Gap also held a coat drive in partnership with New York Cares. Plus if you go on their website, you can donate $20 to purchase a new coat for someone. That’s it. Just $20 for a new coat. That’s a week of Starbucks for me that I can instead put towards a good cause.
I think giving back is so important, but when you’re able to bring your family and friends and coworkers together it’s even better. I’ve found that a lot of people want to give back, but don’t know how or where to start so I think organizing things like an Operation Christmas Child drive give people an easy way to take part.
My friend Anna told me I love to shop for kids because I like the same things they do! Which is in fact true, but I also love it because growing up, my mom always made sure I had the best Christmas and I would hate for a little girl or boy out there to not have the same experience I did which is why I always want to pick up 100 wishlists to fulfill them all.
When I was doing research on different charities and organizations, I noticed that a lot of them were local and specific to certain communities. So I recommend doing some research and seeing what opportunities are available in your area and seeing if you can get involved or just donate money or supplies.
One of my favorite New York charities is City Harvest which tries to fight hunger in the New York City area. My mom & I have attended their events in the past and her company is actually a big donor. You can donate on their website and based on the amount, they tell you how much of an impact you are making and seriously a small amount goes a long way or you can even hold your own food drive.
DONATE TO A FAVORITE CHARITY
Take this time of year to donate to your favorite charity or one you have been eyeing for a while and want to get involved. My mom and I always donate to St.Jude Children Research Hospital.
But, I also try to keep an eye out for newer organizations I’m not too familiar with. Anytime I watch the news and hear of a new charity or come across one on social media or wherever, I always jot it down so I can look it up later and see what their mission is and do more research on them.
A new one for me is Room To Read whose goal is to help girls in Asia & Africa learn to read and get an education. They recently partnered with Michelle Obama & Lana Condor to promote this program in Vietnam, which is so near and dear to my heart. I’ve definitely taken my education and opportunities for granted and to hear these girls truly fight for their education and just for an opportunity has inspired me. Did you know that just $300 can keep a girl in school for the year. FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!
DON’T FORGET THE TROOPS
Anytime the Holidays roll around and they play messages from the troops who are currently deployed, it just breaks my heart. Most of my uncles have served in the armed forces. Two of my uncles fought during the Vietnam War, a war which my mom and aunts escaped from so I think this is something so special.
With Operation Gratitude you can write letters to the troops. I’m such a sap and love letters so I can only imagine how they feel receiving a little part of home. You can also pick up items for their care packages and send them to California where they package everything or donate $15 to contribute to the care packages or you can even check out their Amazon wishlist and purchase items from there. I think it’s a nice way to give back to our troops and also a great way to gather your family and friends to write letters or fill care packages.
A bit of a lengthy post today, but something I’m pretty passionate about. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I can be very ME, ME, ME so I love taking this time of the year to remember to give back to others and it doesn’t just have to be during the Holidays. With the exception of the gift drives, you can definitely contribute to these organizations year round.
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!