(BPT) – Americans donate billions of dollars and millions of hours of their time to charity every year — and much of that generosity occurs during the holidays.
Here are some ideas for meaningful ways to give back during the hustle and bustle of this holiday season – that won’t wreak havoc with your calendar:
* Ask your company to match a cash donation to the charity of your choice. Many companies budget funds to use at the end of the year in support of employees’ charitable donations. Check to see if your employer has a matching program — it’s a great and easy way to increase the amount of your donation.
* Many churches and community organizations sponsor “adopt-a-family” programs during the holidays. These groups identify families in need within their local community, create anonymous lists of items the families need, and make them available to anyone who wants to help. The group then coordinates collection of the items and often even delivers them to the families.
* Make holiday purchases from companies that support the community. For example, Hickory Farms, the well-known holiday food-gift brand that’s been around for more than 60 years, partners annually with No Kid Hungry to donate $5 to the charity for every Signature Party Planner Gift Box purchased during the holidays. No Kid Hungry, the leading national nonprofit group, works to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all kids get the healthy food they need every day. Since first teaming up with No Kid Hungry in 2008, Hickory Farms has contributed more than $4 million to provide nutritious meals to children where they live, learn and play. The Signature Party Planner contains some of Hickory Farms’ best-loved specialty foods, including their award-winning Signature Beef Summer Sausage and Turkey Summer Sausage, four cheeses, crunchy snack mixes, and two specialty mustards. Visit your local Hickory Farms Holiday Market or hickoryfarms.com to learn more.
* Holiday baking is a much-loved tradition. Why not bake extra when making your holiday cookies and treats and deliver them to seniors or families in need in your neighborhood? Making six dozen cookies doesn’t cost much more than making four dozen, yet the payoff of good feelings can be huge.
* Ring in the New Year by taking a few minutes to clean out your closet and donate gently used clothes you no longer need to a charitable organization that resells or distributes clothing. These organizations use the proceeds from sales to fund outreach programs to help people in need throughout the year.
* Do something simple and unexpected for someone you don’t know. The next time you go through the drive-through, tell the cashier you want to pay for the order of the car behind you. It’s a simple act of generosity and kindness that can mean so much to someone during the busy, hectic holiday season.
* Next time you are at a restaurant, double the amount of the tip you would usually leave. You’ll make someone’s day and create a lasting, positive impression that could inspire that person to pay it forward with a kind act to someone else in need.