Here are plenty of ways to pay it forward during the season of giving.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made life tough for so many people. According to reports, the unemployment rate rose higher in three months of COVID-19 than it did in two years of the Great Recession, and challenges have only continued throughout 2021 and 2022.
According to a survey released from September 2022, 5.8 million people were unemployed at the time and "1.4 million persons reported they had been unable to work because their employer closed or lost business due to the pandemic." With so many people unemployed or leaving the workplace, the holidays may be challenging for families struggling to make ends meet.
So this holiday season—whether you wanted to give back to your community or find out how to adopt a family for Christmas—it's the perfect time to spread some kindness and cheer to round out 2022 and begin 2023.
Check out the suggestions below—with these ideas, you'll be sure to give someone else an immeasurable amount of gratitude.
How can I give back this holiday season?
There are so many options for giving back, in ways both big and small. Here are some ideas to get you started:
You can literally "give back" by paying for the person's coffee behind you in line. If you've ever found yourself on the receiving end of this kind gesture, you know what an impact it can make on your entire day.
Mail out a donation to a local organization whose mission you believe in (Habitat for Humanity, for example!).
Bring a hot chocolate to the crossing guard at your kid's school.
Write out some heartfelt letters to the elderly.
Donate to or volunteer at a nearby Veteran's Affairs Medical Center.
Send a friend or coworker a Venmo surprise to say, "Lunch is on me!"
Participate in a coat drive in your area.
Shop using AmazonSmile, which donates 0.5% of your eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
Find nearby blood drives and donate either solo or get a group to sign up. The Red Cross even has an app to help you locate blood drives, make appointments, track your donation, and more!
Donate a car that you no longer need to a non-profit of your choosing via CARS or similar organizations.
Adopt a letter written to Santa through Operation Santa, orchestrated online by USPS, and you can fulfill a child's Christmas wish/list.
You can even adopt a whole family for Christmas, and/or donate toys to kids who would otherwise go without—keep reading for more information on how you can transform someone's season of need into a season of love and provision.
How can I adopt a family for Christmas?
Adopting a family for Christmas is an incredible way to reach a lot of people all at once. Not only will an entire family in need be touched from receiving generous gifts, but your own family members will see firsthand the joy of giving and what it looks like to be involved in your community. Talk about a new annual tradition!
Related: Acts of Kindness Ideas
So what are the steps? DoingGoodTogether.Org says to first, "Contact your local Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services or Salvation Army or visit volunteermatch.org to be matched with your recipient(s)." Then, once you learn about your recipient(s) (including age, gender, possible requested gift items, etc.) think about where you want to go shopping and make a list of gifts to look out for. All that's left is wrapping the packages, putting the right names on the outside, and dropping them off at the designated location!
Related: Best 2022 Advent Calendars
Other programs to consider:
Family-to-Family: Sponsor a family in need with a monthly box of groceries. There are multiple options to help contribute, including donating an automatic monthly payment, along with sending letters and emails to the family, providing funds to allow a family who makes just enough money to be right above the federal poverty line to "shop" at the Red Bird Mission "Gap Pantry" in Kentucky, join four other families to pack boxes of food to take to a food pantry in your own hometown, and more!
Related: 50 Best Christmas Gifts for Dad
Telluride Angel Baskets: This Colorado-based holiday program "distributes food certificates, clothing, necessities, gifts, toys and gift certificates to more than 200 families, 600-700 people, half of them children." Your donation can help their community continue paying it forward! For example, the Town of Telluride itself sponsors "Toys for Tickets," which allows "parking tickets to be paid with new toys that are given to Angel Baskets for distribution."
Volunteers of America Michigan | Adopt A Family: Provide at least one new toy, one new outfit for each child, and a special holiday meal through your sponsorship of an appreciative family. "Families range in size from a single parent or grandparent with one child to families with multiple children. Sponsors are able to pick a family, senior, or veteran based on their profile once they've registered."
How can I donate toys to kids in need this holiday season?
Programs like Toys for Tots have drop-offs in many areas all across the nation to help facilitate this exceptional act of giving new toys to less fortunate children. Looking to donate gently used toys instead? Visit a resell charity thrift store (think Goodwill or The Salvation Army), or you can check with a nearby church, daycare, or shelter to see if they will accept the items depending on their need.
Another great resource is tuning in to a couple of your favorite local radio stations to hear about various drives going on in your area or other ways to get involved close by. And for more options to give back near where you live, check out Helping Americans Find Help to see their list of 2022 Christmas Assistance programs for each state!
Looking for even more inspiration? Here are 25 best Christmas prayers and blessings.