Giving back doesn’t have to mean $$

“Giving back” is the new, sexy buzz phrase these days – EVERYONE wants a piece of the philanthropy pie. It’s on the nightly news broadcasts, in every blog, and if you work at a non-profit like me, everything you do is about giving back.

But I noticed that “giving back” often has the same connotations as shopping for the best Christmas presents – how much money can I give and to how many organizations?

To me, giving back isn’t about racking up a list of the 10 charities you made a donation to – because then it ends up reading like your other shopping list: “Oh, I saved a child for $15 here, bought a water jug for $5 there…” When I think about giving back, so many “old-fashioned” methods come to mind. Here are a few I like:

  • Cooking dinner for your local fire/police station (the firefighters by my parents’ neighborhood have come to love our Cajun dishes)
  • Instead of stuffing last season’s coat/scarf in the back of the closet – donate it to a shelter
  • Bring old blankets and towels to an animal shelter
  • Hand someone walking in the rain your umbrella
  • Pick up an extra latte for your door man/woman, front desk person, security guard, etc.
  • Offer to walk the dog/cook/pick up the mail/go grocery shopping for your elderly neighbor
  • Mail a holiday greeting card to someone who isn’t expecting it
  • Drop off lunch for someone with a busy schedule
  • For book lovers, make homemade bookmarks with their favorite quotes and photos on them (I did this for my dad – he loved it!)
  • Call someone you love – even if they were supposed to call you first.
  • Loan some of your favorite books and movies (happy, comforting ones!) to a friend who can’t make it home for the holidays
  • Tell the people in your life that you love them. Works every time.

What are some of the ways you are giving back this year?


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