The season of joy and giving is here! While the holidays are a time for decorations, gift-giving and buying, and indulging in your favorite treats, it’s also a time to give back and support those who need it most.
One of the most beautiful gifts of the holiday season is family, so get everyone involved in giving back! Let’s explore five ways to give back to your community as a family this holiday season.
#1 – Volunteering Together
Volunteering as a family can be a great bonding experience and benefits family members of all ages. Volunteering together can create lasting memories you’ll cherish forever, teach your children valuable life skills, and instill the spirit and joy of charitable giving within your family.
Volunteering as a family benefits every member regardless of age or skills. This activity can:
- Increase empathy
- Encourage sociability
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Boost confidence
Most importantly, family volunteering teaches your children about your family values, which can impact generations to come.
All it takes is a simple Google search to find charities, shelters, and community organizations or events in your area that welcome family volunteers. Some of our favorites in Edmonds, Washington, include:
- Edmonds Chamber of Commerce Tree Lighting Ceremony
- Christmas House
- Homeward Pet Adoption Center
- Foundation for Edmonds School District
- THRIVE Chelan Valley
Get everyone involved and pick an organization or charity to help as a family! If this is a new tradition, you may have some family members that aren’t excited about this change. Having a say and a voice in the process may spark some excitement.
#2 – Donating to Food Drives
We need three things for survival: water, shelter, and food. Unfortunately, more than 44 million people in the U.S. face hunger, including 1 in 5 children. Accessing food is difficult enough for many people, but obtaining healthy and nutritious food can be nearly impossible – even in our backyard in Edmonds.
Donating to food drives can significantly impact your local community in 2 distinct ways:
- Reducing your environmental impact: Community members benefit from food drives because of the increased access to food, but the planet also benefits greatly. What happens to that food you don’t eat? It goes to a landfill, where it goes to waste. The less food thrown away, the healthier our planet will be.
- Taking care of your community members: We are stronger when we build up everyone around us. People can be better engaged in the surrounding community by accessing healthy meals. Children can attend school, adults can pay bills and better support their families, and older adults can stay healthy for longer.
If there aren’t any local food drives around the holidays, you may consider organizing your family food drive or participating in community initiatives.
#3 – Making Care Packages
Everyone loves a package to open during the holidays, especially those in need. As a family, you can create care packages for various groups such as veterans or active military, healthcare workers, or people experiencing homelessness.
The items within each care package will vary, but for example, a care kit for people without housing may include the following:
- Clothing: Socks, gloves, or hats
- Nutrition: Water, sports drinks, and snacks
- Toiletries: Hand wipes, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen, feminine hygiene products
- First aid: Bandaids, alcohol wipes, cotton pads
Once you have your care package assembled, it’s time to distribute them! You can contact a local charity or hand out care packages directly to people on the streets, at the Veterans Affairs center, or at your local hospital.
While all care packages will vary, one thing should always be included: a personalized note. An extra message of kindness can go a long way, whether words of encouragement or gratitude.
#4 – Supporting Toy Drives
Nothing beats opening a new, shiny toy on Christmas morning as a kid. Yet, unfortunately, many children don’t have that luxury. Luckily, toy drives are designed to distribute toys to children from low-income or homeless families.
Toys For Tots is an incredible organization that brings the season’s joy to less fortunate children. You can volunteer, donate toys, become a toy drop site, or host a Toys for Tots event to get involved. Snohomish County also has Christmas House, which allows low-income families to receive free holiday gifts for their children.
Toy drives are an excellent way to introduce children to the spirit of giving. They encourage kids to think and learn about families in need and help instill a sense of empathy.
#5 – Creating DIY Gifts for Seniors
The holidays are joyful for many, but it can be an incredibly lonely time for some. For long-term care senior residents, studies have shown that only 1 in 5 people will see their family.
There are many ways to get involved with the seniors of your community, including:
- Making homemade gifts: Craft a DIY gift to donate to your local nursing home! Your family can make items such as blankets, candles, soaps, or even bookmarks to gift to seniors near you.
- Writing letters: Organizations like Love For Our Elders help community members send personalized letters to seniors in need. Everyone loves receiving a letter in the mail, especially those who don’t have family around to visit.
Reflecting and Gratitude
Whichever activities your family participates in, reflect on your giving experiences. How did giving back make you feel? What was your favorite part? Is there anything you’d like to change for next year?
Giving back can foster a greater sense of gratitude and a deeper appreciation for all that you have within each member of your family. The more you volunteer your time, the more you build a stronger sense of community.
Giving back during the holidays can strengthen your family’s relationship and instill the values of charitable giving. The magic of the holiday season isn’t about receiving gifts; it’s about giving. Start planning your family-giving activities for this holiday season today!