Season of Giving

  Volunteering at the  Ronald McDonald House  in November

Volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House in November

As I'm kicking off the holiday season, it's important to recognize and appreciate all that I'm afforded. I have such a loving family, amazingly close group of friends, a fun, lively job, warm home, and the list goes on....

Not everyone this season is in this same situation, which is a devastating thought. For example tonight over 1,500 children are sleeping outside right here in Seattle and King County. With so much need in our local communities, I've rounded up both small and large ways that you can give back this holiday season. Maybe instead of going holiday shopping with a friend, volunteer at your local food back. Instead of buying yourself that Black Friday deal you've been eyeing, donate unused products to a women's shelter. There are countless ways you can make a difference - here are some of my favs:

 

It's the little things

Little things add up to big things. There are some acts that are of low-impact to you, that can help others in need. 

Company Match

If you work for a company that matches donations, check their policy and make sure to submit any donations you make to the program to make your money go further! 

Amazon Smile

Instead of browsing and buying on Amazon, use Amazon Smile instead which has the exact same products and service, only with the added benefit of donating 0.5% of your eligible purchase to the charity of your choice.

Donate Your Airline Miles

United, American, Alaska and other airlines will let you donate airline miles to places like Make-A-Wish that help terminally ill kids and their families fulfill their wish. If you're like me, you definitely have unused miles floating around! 

 

Volunteer

There's no bigger gift than your time. Carve out some time this season to go volunteer with friends, family, co-workers, you name it! If you offered to arrange an event with your network, I can't imagine someone having a good reason not to join you! Volunteering can make some of the most lasting memories and helps you engage with the community around you. Here are some local Seattle causes where you can volunteer:

Volunteer Match

Any volunteering event imaginable is aggregated to this site, so it's a great place to start to find an opportunity near you.  

Mary’s Place

Mary's Place provides housing and services to homeless families to get kids inside for the night! If you have extra stocking stuffers or toiletries laying around, those are great to donate, or spend some time volunteering at one of their housing facilities!

Northwest Harvest and Cherry Street Food Bank

These food banks are essential to the greater Seattle community. Last year, I volunteered at the Cherry Street Food Bank on Capitol Hill with coworkers and it happened to be the day Santa came for family photos. Talk about tear-jerking.

YouthCare

Spend a few hours cooking dinner for homeless youth in the U-District.

 

Donate

If you're short on time or maybe have a few extra bucks from your year-end bonus, donating may be the way to go this season! Give at any amount to almost any organization! Find what's most meaningful to you or your family, and donate to that cause. 

A few years ago, I donated an animal from Heifer International in each family member's name. For example, a cow from my mom, a goat from my brother and so on. Opening up their "gifts" helped bring us all back to what Christmas and the holidays are truly about - being with those you love, and all of the materialistic aspects are just nice add-ons. 

Another easy way to donate is through Giving Trees. We have quite a few around our office, so hopefully you do too! Pick up a tag, get that gift, and without even having to wrap it, just drop it back off and you'll make a kid's holiday!

 

Activities

Who says you can't have fun while giving back?! Connect in with your local community by participating in a holiday event! Most of them are partnered with charities so your entree-fee is a donation. Check out some of my annual favorites here in Seattle:  

Gingerbread Houses at The Sheraton benefiting juvenile diabetes (Nov 21 - Jan 1)

Pike Place Senior Center's Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition (Dec 1)

Santa Con - yes Santa Con actually supports a charity - Mary's Place! (Dec 16)

OM for the Holidays yoga charity supporting SHEinspires (Dec 16)

Walk or Run a 5K

Jingle Bell Run 5K supporting The Arthritis Foundation

For a full list of races in Washington, visit this site.

 

How do you give back during the holidays? Let me know your favorite ways in the comments below!