Simple Actions You Can Take to Give Back This Holiday Season

One of the most powerful gifts of the holiday season (and beyond) is that feeling you get when helping others!

This time of the year carries with it a strong message of kindness toward others. For some people this involves their spiritual beliefs, for others, it simply marks the end of a year and a time to take stock and appreciate those around us. Studies have even shown that when we’re generous to others, we feel the same happy rush as if it was us doing the receiving! Here are just a few examples to help strengthen your resolve to give kindly and creatively.

There are so many ways to provide support to our fellow humans! If you don’t already have a charity in mind but are keen to donate, the best place to start is to find a reputable charity database. Examples include the Charity Commission Service run by the United Kingdom government; Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Register, which contains information on over 54,000 charities; and Charity Navigator, which contains ratings on over 9,000 American charities. Also,  keep an eye out for crisis appeals that are designed to help those most urgently in need. Oxfam in the UK, Australia and the US, for instance, all have pages outlining current international emergencies that could use your support.

Of course, giving back to people doesn’t have to mean giving money. There are a myriad of ways to help others without spending a cent, and they can be just as powerful, if not more so. What could be more generous than saving someone’s life? By giving blood you’ll be doing just that! All you have to do is get in touch with your local Red Cross to see if you’re eligible and to find out more.

Keen for a new hair-do? Fabulous charities such as The Little Princess Trust in the UK, Locks of Love in the US and Canada, and Variety’s Hair with Heart program in Australia, use donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics for financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

What better time of year to embrace all creatures, great and small? There are so many inspiring organisations around the world working hard all year round to protect animals and their habitats. You can make a donation on someone’s behalf to help an animal they love or purchase an adoption pack where your loved one will receive special information on the species their gift is helping. Some great options include Supporting the Rehabilitation of an Animal in the UK with Wildlife Aid Foundation, the Endangered Animal Adoption Packs from WWF-Australia and Adopting a Bird via the American Eagle Foundation.

Another fantastic way to give back to vulnerable critters is to give of your time. Why not contact your local animal shelter or rescue centre and ask about their volunteer programs? You and a friend could commit to going once a week to walk dogs waiting to be adopted or to groom rescue kitties in need of some pampering. Perhaps you have a particular skill set that you’d like to offer? If your photography is fierce you could offer to take beautiful snaps to help rescue animals find their forever homes faster. Or maybe you’re an amazing communicator? You may want to look into options for giving tours at your local zoo or wildlife refuge. The possibilities are endless!