Good intentions often run amok during the holidays, as we all tend to get sidetracked by crazed schedules and cyber sale shopping sirens, so we’d like to offer 10 ways to give back during the holidays that range from almost mindless to a little more mindful, but all yield big results!

  1. Be a stealth giver! Quietly and anonymously seek out someone who could use some support, but might be embarrassed to ask for help: a single mother in overload, a neighbor who is in-between jobs or perhaps an elderly acquaintance who would welcome some help with pet supplies.  Wrap up some gifts, plus a grocery store gift card for Christmas dinner and leave your secret Santa package someplace safe for them to discover and enjoy.
  2. Pay it forward:  Pay for your purchase and the person behind you line at your favorite coffee shop. Guaranteed to put a smile on everyone’s face, including yours.
  3. Over-tipping: Whether they expect tips or not, show your gratitude with a nice big tip; indulge your favorite bartender and your postal carrier to make their holidays bright.
  4. Save a life:  give blood at a local blood bank or organize a Red Cross blood drive.
  5. Give a gift that keeps on giving: Identify a charity that is near and dear to the recipient and set up a recurring monthly donation in their name.
  6. Team up for a good cause: At work, sign up your team or department for a community service; such as Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or even picking up litter in your community. And if you’re the boss, give your employees time off to make it happen!
  7. Our four-legged friends need love too! If you have the time, volunteer at your local animal shelter as there are plenty of dogs that need to be walked and cats that need to be cuddled. Or simply call and ask what their needs might be; such as collars, bedding, or bulk food and drop off a care package.
  8. Thank your firefighters:  Drop by or call the non-emergency number of your local fire department to get a headcount for a typical day, then assemble a basket of baked goods and healthy snacks to thank these brave men and women for their service.
  9. Shop Social Good Companies:  As you’re making a list and checking it twice, start your online shopping at a site that does more with your dollar, such as AmazonSmile, https://smile.amazon.com, which offers the same products and prices, but .5% of the purchase price of eligible products will be donated to a charitable organization of your choice. Or click on http://shopwithmeaning.org/social-good-companies/ to shop the Top Social Good companies that support social causes and non-profit organizations.  In addition to being socially responsible companies, such as TOMS Shoes, these products are made from sustainable materials from socially responsible business practices that support non-profit and charitable organizations around the world. That’s a lot of good you can do with just one click!
  10. Thank our military: Send a care package to Veterans, First Responders, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes and their Care Givers and U.S. Service members deployed overseas with Operation Gratitude: https://www.operationgratitude.com/operation-gratitude/This organization will assemble and ship the care package filled with food, hygiene products, handmade items, accompanied by a personal letter from you, which is guaranteed to lift the spirits of those who serve our country.

So start small with a single act of kindness and you might just find it to be habit forming!