10 Wonderful, Budget-Friendly Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

volunteer for the holidays During the holidays, you probably want to spread the joy of the season by giving to those who are less fortunate. But with expenses popping up faster than inflatable reindeer, chances are you're worried about overspending. Not to worry; there are plenty of ways to give back without blowing your budget!

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When we hear the word "donation," we often think it has to involve cash or a check. But that's not necessarily the case. We found plenty of ways to help out using your time and other talents.

1. Donate to a food bank.

It's not hard to find a local organization collecting canned and nonperishable food items, especially this time of year. But if you need help finding a drop-off site, Feeding America features an online food bank locator. Just enter your zip code and you'll be ready to go.

2. Give your wardrobe a second lease on life. 

Have some professional clothing that no longer fits you or just isn't your style? Consider donating your gently used frocks to Dress for Success, an organization committed to helping women in need re-enter the workforce. Have a flair for styling others or organizing a wardrobe? You can also donate your time. Visit Dress for Success's website for more information

3. Deliver dinner to the housebound.  

The holidays are often a difficult time for seniors who are alone and unable to leave their homes. Meal on Wheels ensures that no seniors are left behind, but in order to accomplish that, it takes a village. Delivering a meal as a family is a wonderful way to brighten the day of someone who may not receive many visitors. To learn more about getting involved, visit Meals On Wheels's website.

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4. Shop with benefits.

If you're doing the bulk of your holiday shopping online, you can make a difference without even leaving the house. Companies like Amazon.com are willing to partner with organizations and share a percentage of the profits to referring sites. So, before you place that order, see if the charity of your choice participates.  

5. Let the kids play a video game.

You may already be familiar with Free Rice if your children have learned about it in school, but this website is a great way to let the little guys give while learning. The site offers a chance to play educational games and donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme each time you get an answer right!

6. Give blood. 

Did you know that donating one pint of blood can save up to three lives, according to the American Red Cross? And it's as simple as rolling up your sleeve! To find out if you're eligible and where you can donate, visit the American Red Cross's website. Have friends who'd be interested? Information about hosting a blood drive is also available through the site. 

7. Direct your gifts toward someone else. 

Consider asking loved ones to donate to your favorite cause this year instead of buying you a present. Also, if your child has a birthday around this time of year, consider asking him or her to donate a gift or two to a child in need. It's never too early to instill the virtues of generosity and thoughtfulness. 

8. Donate coats and blankets to shelters.

If you've got extra jackets or throws just sitting in closets, give them to someone who'd be truly grateful for the gift of warmth this season. Homeless Shelter Directory can help you find a location near you. Animal shelters also appreciate a donation of towels and blankets. The Shelter Pet Project is a site that'll direct you to animals in need this season. 

9. Visit a nursing home.

If you and your family live near a nursing home, it's a nice idea to visit the residents. Bring some homemade baked goods. Or, if you play an instrument, bring it along. Simply spending time talking or reading to a senior who may not receive many visitors may be the best gift you can give.

10. Double your donation.

If you're short on time and want to make a monetary donation but feel the amount is too meager, see if your employer will match it. Many companies are willing to kick in up to a certain dollar amount. 

Just because it's the season for giving, it doesn't mean you have to go into debt to do a little good. Consider one of these inexpensive ways to make a difference!

 

Image via wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

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