The holidays are finally here and we all know what that means..presents! Kidding! It means a time to get together with family and cherish the ones you love. However, the holidays are also a time of giving. Giving love, giving attention to those you lost touch with over the year, and giving time to volunteer and help those in need.
There’s just something about this time of year that makes you want to do good. Mind you, we should always do good! But, over the holidays we look to help others who are less fortunate or support causes that need our help. We can’t help, but shop during this time. Incidentally, holiday shopping can be one way to give presents to the ones you love, while also achieving that “do good” holiday feeling. Furthermore, not holiday shopping or knowing how to balance the crazy rush is important for your health and to keep the core meaning of the holidays in check. See my section on how to do good for yourself.
Although I try to shop fair trade and eco-friendly now, I can’t help but support stores that are also promoting a good cause through proceeds. However, to shop for ethical and eco-friendly items, visit my post here. In addition, remember to shop better, not more!
Year-round log into AmazonSmile whenever you buy something on Amazon. It’s the exact same as Amazon, but a different portal. When you first log in, it will ask you to pick a charity (the list is endless) and, after you make a purchase, Amazon donates 0.5% of the price to your charity. NO extra money is needed from you. If you don’t already do this with your Amazon purchases, START! Zero changes or money from you, and Amazon donates to a charity. You just have to remember to type AmazonSmile instead of Amazon into google (bookmark it to make it easier!).
Check out your local craft fairs to support local small businesses and find quality handmade goods. Another great way to support your local economy and help another out. During the holidays, there seems to be craft fairs every week, sometimes in multiple locations at once! Think small business, fair trade, and helping a neighbor.
Have babies and toddlers, or friend’s with children? Check out Everything Happy whose philosophy is based on “one to love, one to give.” With every purchase, they donate an item to a kid in need. The company developed from a mind of 7 year old David, and now David and his family distribute their products to children in hospitals and orphanages all over the world.
Need prescription glasses or sunglasses? Fetch Eyewear donates 100% of proceeds to The Pixie Project, which helps overcrowded shelters across the nation find homes for cats and dogs in need. The Pixie Project also helps low-income households keep their pets healthy through low-cost veterinary care.
Have a dog lover in the family? Shop their array of products (all dog themed!) to help feed shelter dogs across the country. Each product lists how much good the purchase will do (i.e. feed 8 shelter dogs). Products range from all forms of clothing to jewelry to home decor. They believe all dogs matter and seek to help bring quality food to shelters after research proved it was the most needed product.
Donating 100% of sales on Black Friday to grassroots organizations working to create positive change for the planet. They already pledge 1% of all sales to nonprofit environmental groups, and they work hard to reduce their carbon-footprint by using recycled polyester and organic cotton in their clothes.
Shop online or visit their partner’s stores for products. Products range from apparel to home goods to technology. APPLE is a famous partner that sells designated (RED) products in their stores (the products are the color red). (RED) is an organization that fights against the deadly virus AIDS and HIV. (RED) donates to The Global Fund, which works to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria epidemics. Up to 50% of profits go directly to the fight against AIDS. All products are common items sold at the same price as similar products, but just the color red.
Stocking stuffers? Soapbox Soap works to donate hygienic products to those in need across the world. Every purchase, whether online or in a store (found at your local drugstores and Whole Foods), allows Soapbox to donate a product. Their products are natural and cruelty-free, as well as, the packaging being 100% recyclable. A “Hope Code” on each product allows you to see which project you aided by logging it into their website. All around awesome!
From clothes to jackets, handbags & wallets to jewelry & accessories, home decor to holiday cheer, the St. Jude’s gift shop offers a range of products for the everyday shopper. Every purchase helps the St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
Items at home to donate? See my post here on where to donate items to specific organizations in need.
Running low on cash, donate your blood! The American Red Cross is always in need of blood, especially for rare types. Feel good this season by visiting a Red Cross location to donate blood and receive free juice and cookies! Monetary donations and volunteering are also very welcomed.
Money Only (due to specialized supplies and kits). They do great things in some of the world’s most disaster ridden places. Their website even shows what percentage of your donation goes where. Great organization to help the refugees in Aleppo!
Money and Rescue Gifts (you choose from a list of gifts they’ll send to those in need). At IRC, over 90% of every dollar goes towards helping refugees and others in desperate need. Established in 1933, at the request of Albert Einstein himself, IRC helps those fleeing conflict and natural disaster.
Money, legacy planning, toy and food donations, pop tab collection. RMHC works to provide a home away from home for families in need, provide healthcare to children in need all over the world, and offer scholarships for college assistance. Families are never turned away. They keep housing costs to nothing or a $25 donation per day.
Money, donate used goods, purchase items, or purchase wishlist items for them to give a child. Save the Children is based in the UK, but anyone can donate. Approximately 88% of a $1 given goes directly to benefit children and only 1% goes toward regular business costs. They are at the forefront of many crises, including Syria, Yemen, Rescue at Sea, Hurricane Matthew, Iraq, and any child refugee crisis. They have a shop too!
Money, shop at their Gift shop, legacy gifts, dedicate a brick, payroll deduction. Lots of ways to give. Due to the low-immune systems of the children in the hospital, monetary donations are the best form of help, as well as volunteering. This is a great organization that works to keep family bills negligible while their kids are in the hospital, and they bring gifts and happiness to all patients. Over 75% of St. Jude is run by public contributions.
Money only (due to food longevity). The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger and funded entirely by voluntary donations. 90% of every donation goes directly to feeding families in need. $15 feeds a hungry child for a month; $75 a family for a month. Help hunger crises worldwide.
(Help for Dakota Access Pipeline) Camp of the Sacred Stones
The Camp of the Sacred Stones has compiled a supply list of items they are in desperate need of. They also created an Amazon Wishlist that allows you to purchase the products and have Amazon do the dirty work of shipping it to them. Whether you support DAPL or not, these people have suffered some terrible conditions standing for what they believe in and protecting the land they call home. No one should be harmed for peaceful protesting.
We must consistently volunteer time throughout the year. I know lives can get busy, but making an effort once a week or once a month is better than nothing at all. Many shelters and soupkitchens over the holidays get run down with people trying to volunteer their time, but come January, volunteers are scarce. Make it a New Year’s Resolution to make more time to volunteer.
Easily search on Google for volunteer opportunities near you (way too many to list for every state) or use the website below to search for options. There are lots of organizations who could use your help. These include shelters, food banks, Toys for Tots, blood drives, churches, soupkitchens, Humane Society, children and senior hospitals, and many more.
One of the best sites for volunteer options. Look up volunteer opportunities across the world. You can specifically search for volunteer opportunities during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it would be best to continue volunteering year-round.
Good For Yourself
Become part of a movement that is turning Black Friday (a day now thought of as retail frenzy) to Bright Friday (a day of benevolence and kindness). Launched in 2015, Bright Friday encourages those to do acts of kindness on the Friday after Thanksgiving, even if they participate in the rush, and share it the act on social media with #brightfriday.
REI, for the second year in a row, is closing it’s doors on Black Friday in an effort to get people outside and away from the stress of holiday sales. Visit their #OptOutside site to learn about ways to get outdoors. Share your Black Friday adventures with them using #optoutside.
Visit State Parks in these States on Black Friday (or the rest of 2016)
Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont are offering free admission to their state parks. Some states require you visit an REI location to obtain free passes (hurry today!), but not all. Check out this article from PennyHoarder talking about each state in more detail. Colorado State Parks are encouraging #FreshFriday, while California calls their campaign #GreenFriday.