The holidays may have officially ended several weeks ago, but the spirit of the celebrations doesn’t have to end. When it comes to the holiday spirit, it is a feeling of warmth and giving. Not wanting to be a Scrooge, people are inspired by the meaning of the season and the holiday spirit to give back. During the months of November and December, charitable giving, usually through monetary donations, are up. In fact, it has been found that charities receive at least 40% of their total donations during this time. In addition, 10% of those contributions are usually given within the last three days leading up to Christmas.
The grim news is that, once the holidays are over, charitable giving and donations drop. After all, days like Giving Tuesday have ended and people are settling back into their normal routines. We are also focused on repaying Christmas debt and strengthening our finances for the new year. However, there are still ways to give back after the holiday season that continue the spirit of giving. There are a few celebrations during the months of January through March. Many people are looking forward to the warmer temperatures of spring, so why not brighten someone’s day during the cold winter months by volunteering? Here are some ideas to help get you, your family and your friends started on a new tradition that can last throughout the year.
- One idea to carry on charitable giving is by donating or participating in a coat/winter clothing drive for nonprofits, such as the Salvation Army or a homeless shelter. Give a Kid a Coat Campaign is a collection drive of new and/or gently used winter coats and is one way to give back old coats.The campaign is in its 37th year and is sponsored by A Cleaner World. This year’s drive started in January and runs through the beginning of February. Donations can be dropped off at any location of A Cleaner World. This isn’t the only avenue to contribute winter coats. A quick clean or look through the closets at your home is a great way to collect coats and other winter wear that aren’t being used and give them to a local nonprofit.
- Spend some time making no-sew tie blankets out of fleece for humans and animals. For this easy task, all you need are two pieces of fleece, any size you would like for the blanket to be. You will also need a ruler, a yardstick and a pair of scissors. Layer both pieces of fabric on top of each other. Then, using the ruler, cut five-inch slits around the edges, every inch. The yardstick will come in handy with this step as it can be utilized to space out the cuts every inch and help keep them in a straight line. Once you have made slits around the edge of the whole blanket, tie the fringes together. First, pull the two pieces of fringe over your finger to create a loop. Then, push the fringe through the loop. Lastly, pull the end through to create a knot. Tighten the knot by pulling the loop through completely. Do this for all of the fringes around the blanket and ta-da. These blankets are great, quick and easy ways to give back and fun for all ages to make.
- Start a clean-up committee for your neighborhood, friends and family. Gather a few people and visit your loved ones, especially your elderly relatives, to clean up their Christmas decorations or clean their home, in general. Housekeeping tasks can be hard for some people, so this opportunity will be greatly appreciated. Another twist is to go to a park or public place and clean up. Helping the environment is a great way to give back!
- Put together hygiene kits for homeless shelters and other organizations. Basic hygiene items can make a difference to a person who is struggling. Put mini soap, shampoo and conditioner, a comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as hand sanitizers and tissues in a toiletry bag. You can also add in more fun items, such as nail polish and lotions for women and girls.
- Bake a sweet treat and cook a meal to give away. Nonprofits, including the Ronald McDonald House, SECU Family House and others, have guests spending time overnight and away from the comforts of their home. Having a home-cooked meal or tasty treat to welcome them is a simple way to help ease their stress.
Charitable giving doesn’t have to stop once the holidays are over. Use these ideas, plus many others, to continue it through the next 10 to 11 months. You and your family will be glad you did.