Give Charitably

Young tree huggers

Written By Amy Bridges

The holiday season is upon us! All you have to do is turn on the television any time after Halloween to see images of holiday consumerism. Although it seems the holiday season grows longer and starts earlier each year, we think it is the perfect opportunity to approach your gift-giving a little differently. Philanthropic gifts are a great place to start.

Something that inspires the recipient, helps our community and makes our world a little bit better is a wonderful gift to give to your family and friends.

We pulled together a list of five charitable gift ideas for the holiday season. Happy holidays

1) The Gift of Time:  We live in a very fast world. What would it feel like to give an hour of your time to help someone else? Volunteering at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen is a great year-round activity. You could also donate a free hour to the single mother in your apartment building so she can run errands or offer to do some light housework for the elderly couple in your neighborhood.

2) A Gift for the Planet:  You can do your part to improve our planet by giving the gift of nature. Here at The Nature Conservancy, we have many different ways to give. For someone passionate about the rainforest, plant a few trees in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest. For the birder in your family, create a habitat for hummingbirds. For the SCUBA diver, help protect coral reefs in the Bahamas, or select from our complete gift guide.

3) A Gift to a Child:  There are several wonderful organizations that are focused on helping children across the world. Toys for Tots spreads lots of holiday cheer by collecting unwrapped toys to distribute to needy children. Shoes that Fitmatches sponsors with local schools, which distribute new athletic shoes to their needy students. You could also donate eyeglasses to New Eyes for the Needy or support Books for Africa, which collects and distributes library and reference books to African communities to bolster their education systems.

4) The Gift of Light: For a child’s education in Zambia, giving them light is the difference between learning and not learning. Sungevity, a home solar energy company, has a philanthropic partnership with Empowered by Light called “Every Child Has a Light” that delivers solar lighting kits to rural schools without electricity. This gift of light enables schools to stay open past dusk, and reduces the dependency on toxic kerosene lamps. The result is healthier air quality, and better educational opportunities for children.

5) The Gift of Giving:  The gift of philanthropy can be given locally or globally. I’ve highlighted a few different ways to give with a few different organizations, but you don’t have to take my suggestions.  What tugs at your heartstrings? What is your family passionate about? Make the connection with what matters to you and seek out ways to give back. You’ll improve your community, inspire those around you and feel great, too.

[Image: Young tree huggers. Image source: Greg Anderson]