After a frenzied shopping weekend featuring tons of doorbusters and a few brawls, it’s easy to feel a little disenfranchised with the holidays. This season is supposed to be about giving, and yet slogans like “Thanks-getting” and advertisements featuring starry-eyed kids with endless gifts under the tree convey an entirely separate sentiment.
To get back to the true spirit of the season, today’s #GivingTuesday reminds consumers to look beyond themselves and give to someone in need. Consider these seven ways to give back today (and beyond), and consider making it a part of your holiday tradition.
- Have your children donate toys.
To cultivate charitable giving within your kids this season, start a tradition where your children select one (or more) toys from their current collection to donate to a child in need. Research local organizations accepting gently-used toys and schedule a time to accompany your child to the donation site. Allowing your child to experience charitable giving first-hand will help him or her understand the good feeling it produces.
- Participate in a fundraising activity.
Many community events including 5K runs often benefit a local charity and represent a fun way to spend time with family and friends. Head to your city’s website or Facebook page for details on upcoming activities and determine what makes the most sense for your family. A brisk run before Christmas dinner that benefits the local food bank, for example, offers a healthy activity for your kids as well as an opportunity to help others.
- Pick up extra groceries for the local food bank.
As you shop for holiday meals this season, consider picking up a few extra items to donate to your local food bank. Some grocery stores even have bags of food for purchase, which they donate on your behalf. The annual Grab ‘n Give event from Sprouts Farmers Markets, for example, discounts bags of food by 10% and donates them to local food banks in their communities.
- Get vaccinated.
Still need to get your flu shot? You can vaccinate yourself against this common holiday illness and give back at the same time. Through Dec. 1, vaccines administered at Walgreens will result in two vaccines for children in need through the UN Foundation’s ShotLife Campaign.
- Volunteer your time.
There are several opportunities to donate your time, whether it’s an afternoon visiting with residents at a local nursing home or serving at your neighborhood soup kitchen. These activities are popular during the holiday season, so call ahead to determine availability. You can also check out VolunteerMatch.org to find local volunteer opportunities based on your interests.
- Shop with stores that give back.
You can make a difference as you shop this holiday season by purchasing from stores that give back (and save a little money, too). TOMS Shoes is a popular brand that donates a pair of shoes, glasses or other items and services to someone in need for every purchase, and also has coupon codes for savings at CouponSherpa.com. At JCPenney, for every pair of fingerless striped gloves purchased through Dec. 24, $2 will go toward the JCPenney Cares non-profit organization which supports after-school enrichment opportunities for children. You can also use Amazon Smile to donate a portion of the cost of your purchase to a charity of your choice.
- Gift donations.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for people on your list, consider donating to a charity on their behalf. You likely know what causes are important to them, plus many non-profit organizations also provide a tax write-off. For a list of trustworthy charities by cause, check out GiveWell.org. Kiva offers a unique twist of gifting donations with its Kiva Card, which gives recipients an opportunity to provide a loan to someone who inspires them. The funds are then repaid as the recipient works off the loan, and the money can be loaned again to someone else.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information about booking an interview or requesting an original written article. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.