The Gift of Giving: 3 Ways to Donate This Holiday Season


During the holidays, it can be easy to get wrapped up in the gift-giving frenzy. But sometimes, the best kind of present is simply the gift of giving. Here are 3 ways you can donate and give back this holiday season.


1. Donate Your Time

  • Volunteer at your local soup kitchen

Time is valuable, so why not give it? Many families aren't able to have carefree celebrations because they don't know where their next meal will come from. Soup kitchens help alleviate this concern by cooking and serving free hot meals. As a volunteer lending a hand in the operation, you can make a difference in many people’s lives.

  • Visit a senior center

Like students studying abroad, those in senior living communities typically don’t have family nearby to visit them. However, taking some time out of your day to talk or hang out with the residents can go a long way in helping them feel the extra love!

  • Help wrap gifts for families

​Throughout the month of December, malls may host gift-wrapping stations to support different charities. Volunteers offer their gift-wrapping services, and in exchange, customers make a donation to the selected charity or help sponsor a local family. If you're interested, stop by a mall near you to see if they have any opportunities!


2. Donate Unused Goods

​For the canned goods that have just been sitting around, consider donating them to a food bank. Food banks collect and then package and distribute them throughout the area to individuals and families in need.

Or, if you'd like to take a more personal approach, you can use your excess canned goods to personally create care packages to give out. You can include other food items and utilities as well, such as: granola bars, fruit snacks, bottled water, toothpaste, hand wipes, socks or gloves.

​As the year is winding down and you're returning home from studying abroad, it’s also the perfect time to clean out your room and closet. If you have toys that you've outgrown, pass them on! Those old clothes, coats and shoes that don't fit you anymore? Rather than throwing them away, donate them to a local shelter.

Don’t forget that animals need some holiday love, too! Some things you could bring to an animal shelter include: dog and cat food, toys, blankets and towels, or even treats. ​And while you're there, feel free to spend a little quality time playing with the lovable creatures!


3. A Simple Donation

Give back to your favorite charity or nonprofit organization and show your support. When it comes to making a change, every dollar counts.

If you'd like to raise more money but are stretched a little thin financially, consider organizing an online fundraiser and encouraging your family and friends to donate. Little things add up, and starting a group effort might raise more money than could otherwise be possible if done individually. ​Who knows? It could also inspire them to find ways to give back as well.