At this time of year, many people are looking for ways to spend their holiday cash and give back to others. Many charities broadcast needs over Christmas, and it can be overwhelming to decide where to put your time and money.
Donating to food drives or volunteering at local charities is always a good place to start. However, there are plenty of opportunities if you want to try something new this year.
Here are five unconventional ways your family can give back.
Get Fit for a Cause
Consider giving back by investing in your health while supporting a good cause. Many people get sick from lack of exercise and poor nutrition during this time of year. Colder weather makes it challenging to get outside, and excessive sweets weaken your immune system.
Protect your family’s health by signing up for a 5K, downloading an exercise app, or shopping with activewear companies that work with charities. You can look for events designed to give back or start a fundraising campaign of your own that connects to your health journey.
You could also consider changing your diet to raise money or awareness for world hunger. No-sugar challenges or eating ethnic foods for a week can teach your kids to value what they eat while improving their health. You can also use this opportunity to teach them more about food around the world.
Buy a National Park Membership
Another way to give back is to buy a national park membership. It makes a great holiday gift and supports the continued preservation of undeveloped natural settings. National parks are valuable for many reasons – they protect American flora and fauna, benefit local economies through tourism, and improve visitors’ mental health.
While many smaller parks have free entry, national parks often require a fee to enter. You may be charged per vehicle or person, anywhere from $0 to $35 for high-volume destinations like Yellowstone and Zion.
An annual national park pass can save you a lot of money if you’re planning to visit multiple parks during the same year. Annual passes cost $80 and cover up to four people in one vehicle. Purchasing one for a family member or friend can help them offset costs for an upcoming trip. You can also use the pass as a way to tell a loved one you’re taking on a memorable vacation next year.
Buy a Lottery Ticket
A lottery ticket is an unconventional gift for a loved one that can impact your local community for good. In addition to giving funds to the primary winner, many state lotteries also donate a portion of profits to support community needs.
For instance, in 2021, the Virginia State Lottery gifted $766 million to the Virginia public school system. Lottery donations have also supported museums, care for the elderly and income tax reductions.
The total financial value of community donations depends on how many people invest in lottery tickets. Purchasing a ticket as a gift can help increase the total amount donated after the final drawing. You can check with your state lottery to learn more about how it’s specifically giving back to the community.
Donate Your Holiday Dinner
Families often celebrate the holidays with lavish meals. However, millions of American families experience food insecurity each year. Over the last few years, many people have taken an additional financial hit because of COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions. In 2020, 6.1 million Americans experiencing food insecurity were children.
Talk to your family about donating the cost of your holiday dinner to a charity that fights hunger, or consider taking food to a local organization that serves your community. Another option is to invite others to join you for your holiday meal. Consider asking college students, elderly neighbors, and friends with little community to participate in your celebrations.
This principle can expand to needs beyond hunger. Ask your kids what they are thankful for over Thanksgiving, and let that be your guide for what charities and causes your family supports over Christmas. Take this opportunity to show your children that small acts of self-sacrifice and kindness matter.
Gift Toys to Refugee Children
According to research from UNICEF, there were 36 million refugee children worldwide in 2020. Religious and ethnic persecution, violent political takeovers, and human rights violations drive migrants from their countries of origin. Children are very vulnerable and face high levels of uncertainty, stress, and grief.
Many charities and human rights organizations have programs that care for refugees and specifically serve children. This holiday season, consider sending them gifts as a way to spread comfort.
Ask your kids for their help, and use this opportunity to teach them the importance of caring for others. You can even decide as a family to forgo expensive gifts this year and donate to refugee charities instead.
Celebrate by Giving
There are many ways you and your family can give back this holiday. Focus on meeting specific needs, reaching out to lonely neighbors, and buying unique gifts to support those near you and around the globe.
Don’t be afraid to branch out. This season is the perfect opportunity to serve others.