When you are doing your holiday shopping, it’s a great time to add in some extra things that you can give to people in need. It’s especially easy if you have already budgeted for the holidays, to buy it all at once if you have saved any money. Holidays are a happy time for many, many people, but there are certainly many in need who can use some help.
This is the perfect season to stretch out your empathy muscles and find some good causes. And I can help you figure out things to get and give that wouldn’t cause too much inconvenience, while you’re already swamped choosing all the best gifts for friends and family.
You’ll need to see if there are specific places near you that might need certain things, but you can also check below for some ideas. Always make sure that they want you to give them the things! Just give them a call or stop by and say, “hi I’d like to help, is it okay if I give you this?” or, “what do you need?” (Also ask them if they want things to not be wrapped.)
A lot of places prefer money, but sometimes that’s because they know better what to buy, but you can just ask! If they don’t want your physical gifts, just find another place. I promise there is no shortage of good causes and people for you to make smile.
Tack-On To Holiday Shopping
While you’re shopping for friends, there are some things you can easily tack on to purchases or grab while you’re at a store. You probably have to shop for some other people anyway. If you’re S.M.A.R.T. you have made a holiday budget. If you do not meet your budget’s maximum, spend the extra on donations!
If you’re shopping on Amazon, it’s extra easy. Lots of charities and non-profits have lists of things you can buy and send right to them or to people in need. Just check with your favorite animal shelter or women’s crisis center.
Some local Planned Parenthoods will take physical donations. Near me, I can send donations to animal shelters, the local STEM after-school program, or a nearby GLBT housing center. If you have a favorite local non-profit or charity, go on over and ask how you can help. Sometimes they need very simple things that nobody might think of, such as storage bins or plastic bags. Sometimes they need more specific things. Always make sure not to get them something that will just burden them with Extra Stuff. (This rule also applies to giving my sister gifts.)
They’ll have lists you can check out, but here are some holiday type gift ideas:
- Disposable cameras for after-school programs
- Beds and toys for animal rescues
- Toiletries for shelters
- Storage solutions, tupperware, plastic bags
Toys for Tots
The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is national, but a drop-off should also probably be local to you! They generally request new, unwrapped toys to be dropped in their bins. You can check their site for a local one. I don’t have a lot to say about this here, but just imagine being a kid during the holidays, and maybe not getting a toy at all from your loving parents? And maybe it’s only because they spent their money buying you food? Brb crying.
Books for Prisoners
You will have to check exactly what is allowed and what they even want, for each place. But once you check, odds are that if you’re already buying someone a book for the holidays, you can find one of these and add it on. If you aren’t buying anyone a book for the holidays you should really consider it, but also you can get a book to donate anyway. Giving a book to someone who is incarcerated can change their life. Check for specific programs here.
Just Donate Money
Okay so this isn’t ideal if you’re poor, but just go on ahead! Every little bit helps and you may be surprised. So collect all your change, balance your books, and pick those dollar bills out of your laundry.
Lots of places will give you a lovely card or something to gift someone and let them know that you made a donation on their behalf. Even a small amount like $5-$15 with a nice note to a meaningful place would make the perfect present (or addition to one) for someone on your list. The note probably won’t even say how much you donated, because that’s tacky! Or just make your own note imo.
If you are looking for a cause to donate to, consider the recipient. What is something that they’re passionate about? What do they love? I’m not going to list my favorite places here (just kidding I’m about to), but I bet Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and First Book can use your support. Donating is the perfect way to show how thankful you are that these places exist, for generating that same feeling in your friends or family who already have everything they need and love to spread good feelings, to inspire others to perform good acts, and to fill up the hearts of all those involved with a thankful sort of hope.