The holiday season can mean a number of things to different people. While some may think of evergreens covered in snow, others may think of family get-togethers and hot cocoa around a warm fireplace. Chances are though, whatever it is that makes you think of the season will also bring a smile to your face. With this holiday cheer in mind, one thing to remember is that the holidays are also a great time to spread goodwill and cheer to others. Helping someone in need is the gift that keeps on giving — especially during the holidays. The benefits of giving back to your community and local organizations are limitless. From social benefits like forming personal and professional connections, to emotional benefits that leave us with a feel-good sense of accomplishment, helping others can mean much more and make a bigger difference than you may initially think. Here are a few ways in which you can get into the holiday spirit by giving back. Donate One of the best ways to help others during the holidays is to make a donation. This can be by means of a monetary gift to a local organization or charity, or it can be by donating items such as food, clothing or furniture. The holiday season is an especially good time to do so, as a number of organizations work to help many people and spread as much holiday cheer as they can during this time. A variety of donations can also be tax-deductible, and by keeping track of your donations throughout the year, you can save money when tax season rolls around. To determine the tax deductibility of your donations, visit irs.gov or consult a tax advisor. Some good ways to donate are as follows: Monetary Donations One of the easiest ways to donate is through a monetary gift. Your gift to a charity or local organization need not be a large sum of money because every little bit counts. Many nonprofits and charities are run on donations, so they will undoubtedly appreciate any help they can get. To make a contribution, try going out for lunch one less time per week or purchase ground coffee instead of buying it at a coffee shop every day; the money you will save can make a big difference. Another easy way to donate to a cause is by saving your pocket change. Instead of keeping your loose change in your car’s cup holder or in a jar on your desk, try donating it once or twice per year as it builds up. You can even encourage your family and friends to lighten their pockets by making a contribution. Donations of Items Purging your home and closet of unwanted and unneeded items such as clothing and furniture can also be a great way to start the new year. Even more important, however, is that it can help those in need. Not only will you gain a cleaner home, but someone else will gain important supplies that will help them get through the winter months to come. Volunteer Making a positive impact upon the lives of others doesn’t always need to involve money or things. It can also come about through donating your time to a particular cause or organization. Think about the things you’re passionate about and use that to find a charity to support by volunteering. For example, if you have a passion for animals, try looking for volunteer opportunities at your local animal shelter or pet store. Even committing a few hours a month can help with daily tasks and operations, especially during the winter months when stray animals need food and a warm place to stay. Volunteering can also be a good team-building opportunity. Try gathering a group of friends, family, or co-workers for a day of volunteering at a local organization. Not only will you make a big difference upon the organization and those who benefit from it, but you will also create a memorable experience to share with those who play a part in your everyday life. The best part about giving back during the holiday season is that you have the opportunity to inspire others. Whether it’s the person who is on the receiving end of an act of kindness, or a complete stranger who you’ve inspired to spread holiday cheer themselves, what you do can grow into something much bigger. Your kindness can begin a cycle of giving back, and from there, you will ensure that many others will feel joy during the holidays and into the new year.
Sarah Bohan is the Vice President Corporate Relations at MSU Federal Credit Union. MSUFCU's headquarters are at 3777 West Road East Lansing, MI 48823. Contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 333-2208.