Ways to give back during the holidays

Tis the season

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It’s easy to get swept up in the materialism of the holiday season, but that’s why it’s all the more important to remember those less fortunate this time of year. Whether you want to donate your time, money or both, there are plenty of ways to give back during the holidays.

There’s no better way to get in the holiday spirit than by helping others. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or money; often the smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. It’s a great example for the kids as well, so include the whole family in your altruistic endeavors.

Feed the hungry

As many of us overindulge during the holidays, it’s all the more important to keep in mind those who are hungry. Help your kids organize a canned food drive for the local food bank at their school, or help out at a soup kitchen. Take part in an organization like Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals to people who are homebound.

Visit

Often, all people want is a little company and conversation. Arrange to visit a nursing home or hospital and chat with the patients. You might find that they have fascinating life stories or sage advice to share. If you want to stick closer to home, check in on any sick or elderly neighbors and see if they want company or need any help around the house.

Keep warm

Winter is a particularly hard time of year for many people who don’t have the clothes and shelter to keep warm. Consider getting rid of any gently worn coats that your family doesn’t need and donating them or setting up your own coat drive. While you’re at it, clean out your closets and donate the clothes to your local Salvation Army or other similar organization.

Adopt

People aren’t the only ones who suffer in the winter. There are plenty of animals in need too. Consider rescuing one from an overcrowded animal shelter. If adopting is too much of a commitment, you can also sign up to foster animals as well.

Donate

Even if you don’t have the time to help others yourself, there are countless humanitarian organizations out there that are in dire need of funds. Think about what topics matter to you and give accordingly. For thoughtful and meaningful holiday gifts, consider making a donation in people's names.

Give thanks

It may sound small, but stop and take the time to thank the people with thankless jobs. Tell the janitor at work that you appreciate them or give your postman a holiday card. Have your kids make cards or pictures and bring them down to the local police or fire station to thank them for all that they do. It’s sure to brighten their day.

How do you give back during the holidays? Tell us in the comments below!

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Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer. In addition to writing for Fabulous Foods, Katherine also contributes to various sections of SheKnows She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Savory Recipes to Start Your Morning (Hang Time Press, 2012). Katherine writes about her adventures in food at KatherineMartinelli.com.

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