It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas indeed!
While we run around filling stockings and raising glasses of Christmas cheer, let’s be sure to find moments of gratitude, and pay-it-forward to those less fortunate than we are.
Already stressing about your holiday budget and lack of time? Don’t worry. Giving back isn’t one-size-fits-all. We can impact our communities without breaking the bank or sacrificing too much precious time. Here’s a few ideas for how you and your crew can put a smile on the faces of those in your area.
Play Santa – without all that sliding down the chimney stuff
After over-Christmasing well into adulthood, my family decided to help out a family in our community. A local elementary school had identified a few families who were down on their luck: some were single parents working multiple jobs, some had been through traumas or were dealing with illness, some were refugees. We were able to help a single father with three kids. The school provided gender, age, interests and sizes of each child, and we bought them PJs, socks, books, toys and gift cards to match. Dad got grocery gift cards to complete Christmas day.
If you have the means to do this, I can’t say enough good things. As a kid, we never wondered if Santa would come or if there’d be a turkey. It was a reminder of how lucky we are. This would be a great initiative to do with your little ones if you have them – it’s a great way to put things in perspective.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Whether it’s your office or your sports team, make it a group affair. Our office collects monetary and gift donations for BC Children’s Hospital and its patients.
A few ideas to up the pot? Charge your peers $1 for every time they swear. Or, better yet, when they utter annoying office jargon. (read: “disruption”, “let’s table this”, “we’ll circle back”, “let’s take this offline.”) You could also host small daily competitions between departments.
Be sure to involve the execs. Many companies are willing to match their employees efforts.
Find a cause that means something to your team, and give it a go.
Make it interesting
Challenge your friends to a wager. Like, skipping coffee for a week. Sound a little daunting? I hear ya. But, buy some java for home or drink that horrible office brew, then make a game of it with your girlfriends. Think about it: 5 weekdays x $2.50 a day, you’re looking at a quick $12.50 per person. With ten people involved you could make a nice little donation to a local food bank. Cash donations are always king since non-profit organizations have strong buying power and get tax breaks. You’ll wind up giving far more than you could buy at Urban Fare for $125.
Do this with friends, family, significant others, and try replacing coffee with buying lunch out. You’d be surprised how much our day-to-day spending can help out.
Clear some space for the new
Let’s be honest, you bought way too much on Black Friday/Cyber Monday/every-time-you’ve-gone-Christmas-shopping-for-others.
Women’s shelters are always looking for lightly used basics. Heave-ho your sweaters, socks, jackets, and footwear. These homes are always looking for toiletries (most even accept opened products), feminine products, and baby necessities like diapers and formula as well.
When donating, keep in mind that cash is king. Most organizations get tax breaks, and work with incredible suppliers who multiply their buying power. Buying donations – be it food, toys, or otherwise – doesn’t stretch your money. Every little bit helps!
Which charities do you like to work with over the holidays? Let me know in the comments!