This article originally appeared on StephenKoppekin.net on Nov. 27, 2017.
Often during the year, we become so embroiled in the trials of our own lives that it can be hard to consider the situations of those who struggle much more. The holidays present a perfect opportunity to embrace the philanthropic spirit and share a portion of our good fortune with people most in need. With every holiday season comes numerous opportunities for anyone looking to donate time or resources toward spreading a bit of good cheer.
- Give back to veterans: Learn how you can show appreciation to local veterans in need by registering to volunteer with the US Department of Veteran Affairs.
- Deliver meals: Seniors and disabled individuals can have a hard time securing food, especially when roads and sidewalks become slick with ice. Few things are more satisfying than a fantastic meal, and those who volunteer with Meals on Wheels deliver the gift of nutrition to those who might otherwise go without.
- Sponsor a household in need: Family-to-Family is an organization dedicated to relieving the burden poverty places on America’s disadvantaged families. They organize numerous volunteer-based giving projects throughout the year.
- Spend time with seniors: The holidays can get lonely for the 50% of seniors in nursing homes who never receive guests. Give the gift of companionship by volunteering at a senior care facility.
- Assist the homeless: Many homeless are left to weather the cold alone. Volunteers can alleviate homelessness by working with the National Coalition for the Homeless. A few of the Coalition’s initiatives include building homes, serving food at shelters, and offering job training.
- Help pets find a home: New pets make a fantastic surprise, and animal shelter employees can be overwhelmed by the influx of pet-seekers during the holiday season. Ease the adoption process by assisting a shelter in need.
- Wounded Warrior Project: Soldiers who return home with injuries or trauma may need help navigating civilian life, so the Wounded Warrior Project provides them with services and a support system that empowers them to live life on their own terms and help their fellow warriors.
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: A world-renowned hospital celebrated for its work in pediatric medicine, especially cancer research and treatment, St. Jude’s cares for thousands of kids each year. Families never receive a bill for care at St. Jude’s since they believe that “all a family should worry about is helping their child live.”
- LA Junior Blind: Children with disabilities and their families can turn to the Junior Blind for education, recreation, and rehabilitation programs. They aim to help these children achieve their goals and personal independence.
- The Salvation Army: Donations to the Salvation Army supply a wide range of assistance services to 25 million underserved Americans; a few of these efforts include promoting education in impoverished areas, combating addiction, and serving the elderly.
- American Red Cross: Disaster, famine and medical emergencies strike regardless of the season, and the Red Cross’s efforts have long guarded disaster-ridden areas from undue tragedy. Donating to the Red Cross helps rebuild the lives of millions each year.
- Toys for Tots: Organized by the US Marine Corps, the Toys for Tots program works to ensure that disadvantaged children experience the joys of sharing holiday gifts. Toys are collected from drop-off centers located in most communities throughout the country. Donations can also be made through the Toys for Tots website.
Perhaps, after exploring this list, you are still unsure of where to focus your charitable efforts. In that case, you can locate a worthy cause using sites like Charity Navigator to search a database of objectively rated charities.