Often during this time of year, in between spending hours waiting in line at the mall to buy your cousin a camo print Snuggie and having to deal with grandma asking you one more time why you don’t have a boy/girlfriend, it becomes easy to lose sight of the charitable spirit of the season. Well, I have the solution for your winter woes! Studies show that philanthropy and volunteerism can greatly improve your mood and not only add a sense of purpose to your life but also to the lives of those you help as well.
So if your heart is feeling two sizes too small this year, keep reading because there is still time left to bring meaning to your holiday season before Christmas. Below I have listed five charitable organizations you can give back to—one for each day remaining before Christmas.
Ronald McDonald House Charities
Since 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities have been giving the families of sick children a comfortable place to sleep while their child undergoes hospital care. Ronald McDonald House Charities work not only to provide a bed for these families, but also to bring hope and courage into their lives whilst they face an array of life challenges. Like any charity, however, the Ronald McDonald House cannot function without the help of volunteers and donors. Donations are accepted year-round, and more information can be found at www.rmhcphoenix.com/donate. The House also schedules volunteers to go in and cook dinner for those staying at the House, and more information about that can be found at www.rmhcphoenix.com/cook-dinner.
American Red Cross
Of course, not everyone is capable of donating their time or money at this time of year. Times are tough, after all. But it is always possible to donate blood in order to save lives. The American Red Cross welcomes people to come in to one of their facilities (check www.redcross.org for more information about how to give) and check to see if they are eligible to donate. Blood is a precious resource that can be used year-round to save lives and help people, and donating won’t even hurt your pocketbook!
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
Here in the United States, there are so many brave men and women who fight for our safety. The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund is a great organization that gives back to members of the armed forces who have served our country dutifully and need assistance of some sort either in their daily lives or during a period of hospitalization. Though Memorial Day is long past for the year, the holidays are just as good a time as any to give to our veterans. More information can be found at www.semperfifund.org.
United Food Bank
Canned foods will always be in demand by those who have nothing to eat for dinner. The United Food Bank of Arizona relies on its holiday donations in order to help feed the hungry throughout the rest of the year. So feel free to dig through your pantry or take a trip to the store in order to be able to donate nonperishable food items, because the food you provide today will help to feed those who are less fortunate not only tomorrow but all through next year as well.
Arizona Humane Society
During the winter season people often forget our furry, four-legged friends. Thousands of animals go without homes, food, or water just the same as people. Though Arizona’s winters may be mild, there are still thousands of animals throughout the state that rely on food and monetary donations to survive. The Arizona Humane Society has been helping animals of all kinds to not only find homes but to also rehabilitate them and give them a warm place to sleep. More information on donating to the Arizona Humane Society can be found at www.azhumane.org and giving can be as simple as donating a bag of animal food or a dog bed.
While you finish up your shopping and are spending time with family, it never hurts to remember those who may not be as lucky as you are. Being philanthropic doesn’t have to mean spending endless amounts of time or money volunteering (though you are more than welcome to). It can be as simple as taking a bag of dog food to your local pet shelter, giving some cans to a food bank, or dropping a toy off for a child who would not otherwise get anything for Christmas. So if not being able to find a parking spot at the store has you in a stress panic and the holiday season seems to have lost its meaning, try squeezing some volunteerism into your life. You’ll be glad you did!