Thursday, November 7, 2013

Giving Back

It's that time of year: everyone is getting ready for the upcoming holiday season. There will be plenty of posts here on The Craftinomicon devoted to DIY gifts, packaging and yes, even some recipes. However, don't let all the hustle and bustle allow you to forget that you still have time to help those in need! There are tons of ways you can help out someone less fortunate-- and many of them don't involve donating money. If the holiday budget is tight, your time is a gift that can be far more valuable. If you'd like some great ideas on how to make this holiday season a little brighter for people in need, keep reading!

When lots of people think about giving to charity at the holidays it is a food drive around Thanksgiving, or donating toys for kids at Christmas/Chanukah. Both of these are great, but don't forget that food drives are great all year round and not only children, but the elderly and everyone in between could use some holiday cheer. You can also volunteer to serve a meal at a local shelter, or contact a local Meals on Wheels program to see if they need help this season.

I am fortunate to work for a company that has it's own charitable foundation. We can have a small deduction taken out of each paycheck and the foundation partners with several other local charities. We work in long term care facilities, and part of our mission is to include our residents in many of our charitable activities. I would strongly encourage you to take a look at the webpage and maybe get some ideas that you could practice in your own community! You can also like the Vital Life Foundation on facebook to find out about activities going on throughout the year (we are based in OR, but have facilities in several other states).

One thing many people don't think about is their local blood bank. I know that donating blood isn't for everyone, but there is always a need and many people don't consider donating blood to their local blood bank unless a tragedy has happened somewhere in the world. Contact your local Red Cross or think about setting up a blood drive in your community or at your workplace this season!

Consider volunteering at a long term care facility or assisted living center. Whether reading a book to a senior or just visiting with them for a short while, I can assure you it will be appreciated. If you have a child that sings in a school choir or plays in a band or orchestra, you may also want to see if they could perform for residents (and possibly work something out between the facility and the school to keep this going year after year!).

For those of you with artsy/crafty kids, consider making Holiday cards to send to a local Hospital or long term care facility.

Donate books to a local school or include books along with toys in your local holiday toy drive. I know I always loved getting books and reading when I was young. I know I liked getting toys too, but I can't off the top of my head name a toy that impacted my life the way books did. If you have "like new" books in your collection that your children have outgrown or no longer read, inquire about donating them to a local school or reading program. One of my favorite publishing companies, Chronicle Books, is also having a holiday book campaign by tweeting, pinning or giving an online signature, you will be donating a children's book to First Book through Chronicle!

Last but not least (as this IS a crafting blog), you can find organizations online like Made 4 Aid, where you can donate various craft projects to be sold (the money is then donated to charity). You can also sell your wares at a local craft fair and donate a percentage of your sales to the charity of your choice (make sure to post that you are doing so, and leave a small donations jar on your table for anyone that may want to toss in their loose change as well!).

What are some of your favorite ways to give back around the holidays?

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