Creative Ways to Give Back During the ‘Giving Season’ Part 3

By Anna Nelson, buildOn’s Curriculum Coordinator

This is the third of a three-part series of ways you can give back not only during the holiday season. You can do many of these activities any time during the year, especially when you forgot to sign up early for that food bank shift!

1. Pledge to be kinder to the environment this year, and start with the holiday season. Bring reusable bags with you when you go grocery and holiday shopping, send e-cards this year instead of paper (you’ll save on postage as well), use linen napkins instead of paper (you’ll save money and there are lots of great patterned napkins available right now), get creative with your gift wrap-try Furoshiki this year or check out one of these great ideas.

2.  Have you kids been begging you for a new puppy for Christmas this year but you just can’t make the commitment? Go for a doggy trial run by fostering an animal! You care for a dog or cat in your own home until the foster agency or shelter can find a good home. By doing this, you’ll save an animal from stressful shelter situations and possibly even save its life! Check with your local animal shelter to find opportunities in your area.

3. Host a package-making party to send packages to those serving in the military overseas.  Host a party and have everyone attending sign up to bring multiples of one item to contribute. is a reputable site that give suggestions for what to contribute and an address for where to send it.

4.  Make holiday cookies this year and double the recipe. Have your kids help you decorate them then bring them to a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen.  The people they serve will be overjoyed to get a home baked treat with their warm meal.

5.  Mentor a refugee family. Families throughout the world have their lives suddenly turned upside down by war, drought, and famine and have to leave their homes to live in another country in order to survive.  Having some guidance for how to navigate even the simplest things like public transportation, how to use the library or find a local park is invaluable to them and will be a rich cultural experience for your entire family. Check with your local International Rescue Committee or Catholic Charities to find opportunities in your area.

Want more ideas? Read part one and part two!