The world is our only home, so we should take care of it and one another. This holiday season, reach out and make a difference. Whether it’s a subtle act of kindness or a big donation, no good deed goes unnoticed. There are tons of ways to get involved in your community and world during the season of giving. Consider the following seven ways you can help the world this holiday season.

Be Kind

One simple act of kindness creates an endless ripple, and if you practice kindness, you will inspire others to do the same. There are several ways in which you can accomplish this. Choose a couple and implement them into your daily life. Smile at a stranger, give a genuine compliment or offer to run an errand for someone. Hold the door at the grocery store, or help a senior citizen unload her groceries into her car. Again, kindness is a simple act, so don’t overthink it. Just do it.

Donate to Soup Kitchens

Not only do soup kitchens need volunteers to help serve meals to the homeless, but they also need people to unload donated items, stock these items, clean dishes and many other things. Even though each of these jobs is important to the operation of a soup kitchen, there’s one thing a soup kitchen cannot operate without — donations.

Find a local soup kitchen or food pantry, then go through your pantry at home and pull together nonperishable foods you may not want or need. These items can be put to good use for a meal. You can also stop by your local grocery store and pick up a few items like canned goods, boxed cereals and other sought-after foods to drop off at your local shelter. There may be several other items in high demand as well, depending on the shelter or organization, so give them a call beforehand to find out what they need.

Give to St. Jude

You’ve probably seen St. Jude’s heartwarming commercials on television, especially since the holidays have arrived. If you have not, St. Jude is a leading children’s research hospital that provides treatments to kids who suffer from cancer and other life-threatening diseases. The hospital never denies a family from getting treatment for their child, even if they are unable to pay. Make a one-time donation to St. Jude or set up a monthly donation.

Every dollar helps these victims and their families through their fight to survive. There’s no better way to give than to help save a child’s life.

Go on a Mission Trip

Broaden your horizons, challenge yourself and help the world all at once when you embark on a mission trip. Local churches are the best place to start if you want to consider such a trip, as many of them host annual national and international mission trips. You can also bring your friends and make it an experience you can share together.

Consider something like a Healing Haiti mission for a life-changing experience filled with purpose and an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Maybe you want to have a deeply meaningful spiritual experience, or simply want to connect with something beyond yourself. Either way, Healing Haiti will give you the chance to grow while you help others in several ways — visit with sick babies and orphans, care for the abandoned elderly and secure fresh water for those in the community.

Donate to Another Cause Close to Your Heart

If you have a cause that’s especially near and dear to your heart, donate to an organization dedicated to fighting that cause. If you want to become a champion against domestic violence, research your local YWCA or domestic violence shelter to ask about their current needs. Perhaps you have a soft spot for rescue animals. The ASPCA is a national nonprofit dedicated to the goodwill of animals. You can also reach out to your local animal shelters to see what supplies they need.

If possible, donate locally, because there is often low overhead, so these groups can put donation dollars to better use going directly to those in need. Whatever the cause, there is likely an organization out there that supports it, so connect with them this holiday season.

Tip Generously
Service industry workers often work double shifts just to make ends meet. Not everyone knows federally mandated minimum wage for tipped employees is only $2.13 per hour. Servers depend solely on their tips to make a living. Many of these hospitality workers have families at home or are putting themselves through school. Some of them do both.

Next time you go out to eat, take a chance to get to know your server or bartender. You will likely feel inclined to give them a more generous tip to help them through the holidays, and they won’t forget it.

Donate Coats and Blankets

Many of us hold onto things we don’t need. If you went through your closet right now, you’d likely come up with several things you can live without. The holidays are the best time of year to clean out your closets, gather your old and unused coats and blankets and donate them to your local Goodwill or homeless shelter. Those who are less fortunate than you sometimes don’t even have one coat or blanket to use, so why not give them the ones you’ve had folded up at the top of your closet for years?

Kindness is contagious. You can make a difference by spreading good in the world. There are so many ways you can help this holiday season, and the above seven ideas are excellent places to start. So get out there and make the world a better place. You’ll be happy you did.

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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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