8 ways to give back during the holidays

They say giving is better than receiving.

And giving as a family can be especially rewarding during the holiday season — when the spirit of community and generosity is in the air.

So whether giving back is already a family tradition or you want to start something new, pull your loved ones together and do something special for others – opportunities to lend a helping hand are plentiful.

Figuring it out together - deciding where to focus efforts

How do you start? Bring everyone together to brainstorm ideas — it can bring energy and excitement to your family’s giving back plans.

Be sure to give every family member an opportunity to express their ideas on:

  • The value of giving back
  • What they’d like to focus on
  • Charitable activities they’re interested in
  • Types of donations the family could make

You can explore whether your family prefers to give back in your local community – or expand into another area within the United States, or even around the world. This discussion alone can bring a common purpose to your family’s charitable efforts.

After some conversation, you’ll hopefully decide how your family will go about giving back this holiday season. Your strategy can be unique – everyone could participate in the same effort or activity. Or maybe some family members could take one approach, and others do something else.

There are many ways to give back, including:

  • Giving goods or money
  • Donating time and effort
  • Participating in a fundraiser or charitable event

Here’s a closer look at eight ways your family could give back during the holidays:

Giving goods or money to a charity

Some options you might explore include:

1. Take the family on a special grocery shopping trip

Buying groceries is much more fun when you know the food will help someone in need. Bring the kids (and anyone else who wants to come), and make this shopping trip an event. Donate your purchases to a community food shelf or food distribution group. Many of these organizations list most-needed items online, which can give you a head start on your shopping list.

You could also create family food baskets to donate. Everyone could contribute a favorite food (non-perishable, of course) and even add in something special, like hand soap, dish towels or candles.

2. Take a “treasure hunting” trip through the house to discover items to donate

Young children can lead the way by going through their things and selecting toys, clothing, books and other items they wish to give to someone else. It’s a way to make giving back more personal and meaningful.

3. Make a list of potential gifts or contributions to charities

During the holidays, a number of charities focus on distributing gifts or food to children and families in need. Kids enjoy selecting a toy or gift for the family to purchase and donate.

4. Start a family holiday donation jar

Your kids can contribute all or part of an allowance, or could earn money to add to the jar by doing chores around the house. Parents can match the total donations they make. The family would then get together to decide how the money will be donated.

If you’re making a monetary donation, do some advance research to make sure your dollars go as far as possible.

Donating time and effort

You can also give back by donating your time and effort. Efforts can be as close as next door, or as far away as another continent. Possibilities include:

5. Helping an elderly or physically-limited neighbor with a task around the house

This could include putting up holiday lights and decorations, snow removal or helping with other household tasks. Your family could also get together and make holiday cookies or treats for neighbors.

6. Visiting a children’s hospital, assisted living facility or nursing home

These facilities often welcome and encourage visitors (be sure to check ahead of time). You can read stories, perform holiday songs or simply talk and spend time with residents. The holidays can be a difficult time for people in hospitals and care facilities. Companionship and company can be a wonderful gift.

7. Parents can join organized work groups

Activities can range from local, national and international home building and remodeling projects, to packing food and gifts for people in need. Older children are sometimes welcome to participate. Taking shifts at a charitable giving station by bell ringing is a popular activity for work groups, and some families do these types of activities together.

Giving your time and labor often builds a personal connection with the people you’re helping, which adds an extra measure of satisfaction and meaning.

Participating in a fundraiser or charitable event

Many events during and around the holidays help raise funds for charitable organizations or purposes. These include:

8. Walks, races or other fundraising events

Getting friends and relatives to back your efforts with their own donations can give your participation an even bigger impact. Several family members participating in an event can make it more enjoyable and rewarding.

A blood drive is another event you and family members age 16 and older (with parental permission) can participate in during the holidays.

Celebrating your accomplishments

Above all, celebrate what you’ve accomplished! Have a family party. Hand out awards. And get everyone’s thoughts on:

  • The success of your giving back efforts
  • How they felt about what they did
  • Reactions from people or groups you worked with
  • Ways to make your giving back efforts even better
  • Ideas for next year

Your family came together to make someone else’s holiday season better. In the process, you made the season more meaningful for your family. By coming together to give back, you made everyone’s holidays a little happier.

Community commitment

Throughout our history, Securian Financial has made giving back a priority.

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