It’s hard to avoid the emphasis on material gifts at this time of the year!

 

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It’s one of the ways we show our love.

Certainly, there are practical and useful presents exchanged with our family and friends.  We also tip generously with the folks who provide personal services for us throughout the year.

But don’t overlook the value of giving to those you don’t even know who are less fortunate than yourself.  Donating what you no longer use or need has the added benefit of clearing space in your home, too.

The drive-through lanes can be long this month at national organizations such as Goodwill.  December is the last opportunity for making tax deductible 2018 charitable contributions.  If you yourself have waited patiently in that giving queue, thank you!  Here are 5 more suggestions for donating and sharing the blessings you have with others.

1. Books

 

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Grab a box or two and scan your bookcases for what you can release!

Do you have books that you no longer read?  Anything that doesn’t interest you anymore?  Or maybe a favorite that could inspire someone else?  Many of us struggle with letting go of our books because they seem to define who we are.  Yet understand that while they reflect certain interests of ours, we don’t need them to validate our worth to those who already know us.

If you’re ready to share some of your collection, consider local venues such as:

  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • shelters & crisis centers

Donating your time is also an option.  Here’s an opportunity to help pack and ship books for our troops abroad: Operation Paperback

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“Words are life” -The Book Thief

2. Clothing

 

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While prepping for the next holiday mixer, pull out a few (or several) garments for the donation pile. 

Our tastes change over time, not to mention our body shape!  Rather than hang on to clothes we may wear “someday”, think about donating those items to make room for the ones that you reach for time after time.

It’s quite eye-opening when we consider that 20% of our wardrobe is worn 80% of the time!  How about reversing that percentage: retain what you love and release what you don’t.  It will shed clarity on your true wardrobe options!

 

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It’s not uncommon to hang on to corporate attire long after the dress code has relaxed or you’ve exited the job. 

Donating to an organization focused on those entering the workforce with little funds for new duds would be an awesome gesture!  One such charity committed to helping disadvantaged female professionals is Dress for Success

If you can also spare some time,  there is an acute need for volunteers to counsel and mentor those newly entering the workforce.  Check in with Opportunity Nation

3. Household Goods

 

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At some point, it’s time to refresh our towels, linens and blankets.  

They wear out over time.  They fade or fray.  When our color palette changes, our old towels and bedding get shoved to the back of the closet or drawer.  Yet those are ideal items for donating to your local animal shelter or rescue group.

Grab a bag and pull out the ones you no longer use or care about. There are countless local animal rescues you can help out.

Or give to your local Humane Society and help those who can’t speak for themselves.  Any of the stray animal causes would also welcome your time or financial donations, as well.

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Help keep the four-legged orphans warm and dry!

4. Toys

 

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Got a spare teddy bear (or two)? 

OK, if you’re a Baby Boomer like me, the toys have long vacated the premises!  Oh, they may visit from time to time, when  grandchildren visit, but they already have a young owner.

Unfortunately, many children lose whatever prized possessions they have when they experience a house fire or when they abruptly flee a domestic abuse situation.  Both local police and fire departments are ideal drop-off sites for donating new stuffed animals.  Or here’s another one: Stuffed Animals for Emergencies

And one more noteworthy group to make kids’ holidays brighter is Toys for Tots

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Help children feel secure when their future feels uncertain

5. Pantry Items

 

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Toss in one for you and then one for someone in need!

Whether you’re clearing space in your pantry or grocery shopping for the holiday meals, consider setting aside some extra food supplies for those who have less.  Hunger affects people of all ages, from the very young to the elderly.  An event such as unemployment or a health crisis can quickly lead to food insecurity.

And know that food pantries are especially strained during the holidays so your donations are greatly welcomed.  You can search for your local food bank here at Feeding America

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Help nourish those with empty fridges!

Again, if time is an available resource, donating your service in a soup kitchen may be your gift of choice. It’s a real sign of stewardship when we humble ourselves and personally tend to those in need.  A nationwide directory provides your local options at Homeless Shelter Directory of Soup Kitchens

The Wrap

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  • Remember those who are without and consider donating what resources you can!
  • Sharing the blessings we have is how a community bonds and thrives!

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Do you have a tradition of giving back? 
Please describe how that experience enriches your life…and thanks for stopping by!