I can honestly say that giving back is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world. Not only does showing gratitude by giving back provide you with a better sense of community and purpose, but it happens to be good for your health too, reducing things like stress and even depression. And there are tons of creative ways you can give back. Remember, a little goes a long way, so even a single act of giving back can have a tremendous lasting impression on someone’s life.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.”
- Denzel Washington
So it’s not always about donating an enormous amount of money to feel like you are giving back to the community. Yes, of course, you can donate money, but you can also donate your time, and in my opinion, that can be even more valuable. I’m going to suggest the best ways you can give back this holiday season, to help fill your heart with more love, more purpose, and even more gratitude. So check out these creative ideas to give back to your community:
1. Organize a Food and Toy Drive for Underprivileged Families
The joy of opening up presents during the holidays and sharing an amazing meal with loved ones may seem normal to many, but, unfortunately, that’s just not the case for everyone. Organizing a toy and or food drive to help underprivileged children and families is a wonderful way to give back during this time of year. You would be giving someone the chance to partake in the holiday traditions we can sometimes take for granted.
There are various ways that you can let people know that you are accepting donations in the form of canned goods and unwrapped toys. For example, post flyers in your neighborhood, at community centers, in your workplace, etc. to get the word out. Be the point person to collect all of the goods people are donating and offer to drop them off at the local donation center. You see, all it takes is for one person to get the ball rolling for an awesome cause, so don’t hesitate to be that person this year. Remember, giving is really what the holidays are all about!
2. Serve Meals to Those in Need
Isn’t it nice to be able to hop in the car and grab a bite to eat whenever you feel like it? Well, little things like being mobile or having the ability to get around freely, we can sometimes take for granted because, for some, this isn’t always so easy. This holiday season, consider helping to make life just a little easier for those who can’t get around by delivering meals.
Organizations like Meals on Wheels provide warm meals to seniors living independently, helping to put an end to the threat of hunger. This organization lets you search your local area for ways to volunteer and deliver meals to seniors in need. Funding for this type of service is slowly declining, as 83% of low-income, food insecure seniors are not getting the meals they need. “It only takes a lunch break,” so consider volunteering an hour out of your day to deliver a warm meal and a friendly greeting to someone who could really use it.
The holidays are a time to be around family and friends, sharing fun memories around the dinner table. But for some, access to a warm meal may not be so easy. So volunteering at a local food bank or shelter is also an incredible way to give back. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), over 820 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. That’s nearly 10% of the world’s population. Serving a warm meal to someone in need not only helps your community directly, but you are also taking a step toward ending hunger and malnutrition on a global scale.
3. Visit a Senior Living Community
For seniors living in assisted living communities, a visit from someone other than a close friend or family member just might be what they need to brighten up their day. When you take the time to learn from and about someone else, you are adding purpose to your life and their life as well.
Things like singing Christmas carols, playing games, asking about events in their life, and even just keeping them company, are great ways to help them create positive memories. The elderly are a big part of any community - just think of all the stories they have to share about what life was like in the neighborhood. So, your presence alone, to be there to listen, is going to help keep those stories and memories alive for years to come!
4. Donate to an Animal Shelter
Want to know how to give back to our four-legged friends? Well, donating blankets, towels, beds, and toys can contribute to helping the animals living in shelters feel warm and fuzzy this holiday season. According to PETA, over 6 million lost, abandoned, or unwanted pets enter animal shelters in the United States. With this overcrowding, it can be hard to keep up with the supplies to help the animals feel safe and warm. Animals provide so much love and companionship to us, so let’s not forget about our furry friends this year.
5. Give Blood
When you donate blood, you are giving back something so incredibly precious… LIFE! Blood donations help accident and burn victims, surgery, transplant, and even cancer patients, so every drop really does count. Donating blood is actually beneficial to the donor as well, as your body replaces the blood with new blood cells, ultimately, detoxifying the body. The process of making a blood donation is quite simple, taking only about 8-10 minutes. You’ll be seated comfortably or lying down, and once approximately one pint of blood is collected, you’re all set. Accidents happen, and disaster can strike at any time, so consider giving the gift of life this holiday season.
6. Plant a Tree, Help Combat Climate Crisis
Trees provide the oxygen we need in order to breathe, so volunteering to plant trees in your community, or even right in your backyard, is a great way to help give back. Not only are you giving back to the community to make it even more beautiful, but you are also showing a little love to our Mother Earth. Remember, we’ve got to be kind to her. ;-) Trees are a necessary part of the quality of our environment and our well-being as humans.
It has been discovered that if the entire world were to help with the planting of trees, this could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activities that live in our atmosphere today. Research continues, stating, “As trees grow, they absorb and store the carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating.” So the impact that planting trees has in your own community can also significantly impact the entire world’s climate crisis.
7. Disaster Relief Care Packages
Disaster can strike at any moment, and when it does, people tend to scramble and may not even know where to begin. So it can be hard to keep a clear head while trying to protect themselves and their families. Prepping basic supplies and toiletries is an awesome way to think ahead and help those in need. So in the unfortunate event of a disaster, those who may be displaced will have access to some daily necessities.
Travel-size goods like toothbrushes and toothpaste, feminine hygiene products or snacks like granola bars and even baby food, are great items to contribute. Consider assembling these items into individual care packages or dropping the goods off at a local fire station or donation center. You never know when someone might need it!
8. Make it Homemade
Let’s be honest, the holidays are time to indulge in delicious seasonal foods and yummy treats. So what better way to spread a little holiday cheer than to make some homemade goodies for your neighbors? Your neighbors are essentially at the heart of your community, and homemade treats are a great way to add some holiday magic to the entire block. Your kind gesture to a neighbor could even result in you getting a little holiday treat in exchange. And you never know, a homemade treat exchange could just be the start of a new holiday tradition in your community. Oh, and if you are unsure of any dietary restrictions or allergies, a potted plant or flowers from your garden are excellent alternatives to homemade goodies. ;-)
9. Thank You Letter to Community Members
Showing gratitude to those who serve you is a wonderful way to give back, and sometimes, all it takes is saying thank you. Consider filling out Thank You cards for the local businesses or people you see contributing to the community. This could be the cashiers at your favorite coffee shop, a bank teller, your neighborhood mail or delivery person, and the list goes on. You are letting them know that their impact on the community doesn’t go unnoticed.
A simple handwritten letter expressing your gratitude for their contribution to the community will not only lift their spirits but also spark something in them to potentially pay it forward. Gratitude is contagious, so a thank you to the members of your community can go a long way.
10. Share a Smile
A huge part of giving back to the community is also creating a sense of community where you live. And sometimes that feeling begins with a simple smile. So next time you are out for a stroll, visiting your local coffee shop, or standing in the checkout line, don’t be afraid to crack a smile to the people around you. Smiling is one of those things that can instantly transform someone’s mood - that includes the receiver and the giver. Because remember, you get the vibes you give. So if you are putting out negative energy, the Law of Attraction says you will get negative energy in return. Life gets hectic and busy, so it may just be a smile that someone needs to brighten up their day, so let’s keep our communities smiling! :-)
In keeping with the attitude of gratitude, I want to share how grateful I am for you and make sure that you, too, understand why over here at Mind Movies, we take showing gratitude so seriously.
It can be easy for negativity to prevail when life gets busy and stressful. So ask yourself, are you ready to start living in the attitude of gratitude every single day? Well, I’d like to share with you a special tool that’s going to help you retune your gratitude frequency once and for all. Go here now for instant access… and the next thing you know, you’ll be totally Rich With Gratitude! So here’s to the most giving holiday season yet!
Natalie Ledwell is a best selling author, speaker and successful entrepreneur. She's passionate about helping others to achieve their greatest dreams and ambitions through her personal development programs and her online TV show, The Inspiration Show.