This is the time of year when people count their blessings and want to help those in need.
But sometimes we find this is also the time of year where both extra money and extra time is a bit scarce. We may be trying to avoid a hefty credit card bill come January, or saving for a trip to see family. We may spend most of our time at home socializing with friends and loved ones, or are busy preparing meals for guests who are in town.
Even if you don’t have extra cash or a moment of free time to donate, you can still give back to those in need. Here’s how to donate and help others without having to spend a dime.
1. Donate your old eyeglasses
One of my favorite donation programs is through the Lion’s Club. Just donate your old glasses and glass cases at one of their drop-off locations and you’ll be giving people around the world the gift of better sight. You can also mail your old glasses to their offices!
2. Donate a meal just by using coupons
When you’re making your grocery list this holiday season, don’t forget to grab a coupon! When you use three coupons from Coupons.com, you’ll not only be saving yourself some extra money, you’ll also be providing a child with a healthy meal through No Kid Hungry.
3. Recycle your old greeting cards
You’ll probably be receiving a lot of holiday cards this time of year, and if you keep those from previous years you can bet things are starting to pile up!
St. Jude’s Ranch collects old greeting cards and recycles them into new cards that they sell. Profits go toward programs that help abused, neglected, and homeless children, young adults, and families. So you can donate and purchase next year’s cards and help those in need!
4. Give your unused travel-sized products
If you’re like me and you travel a lot, you probably have cabinets full of small shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and soaps. Instead of letting them collect dust, you can donate them to several organizations that would love to take them off your hands and put them into the hands of those who could really use them.
5. Give your shoes a new life
Give your gently-worn heels, flats, and sneakers to those in need by donating to Soles 4 Souls.
This non-profit has donated 26 million shoes in more than 127 countries — and all 50 U.S. states! Find out where to donate your shoes or how to host a local shoe drive by visiting their website.
6. Donate to deployed military members
Being deployed can be especially hard on our military, since communication with family and friends is often difficult and many military members don’t get to come home for the holidays.
Send them a note of encouragement or a care package full of things they may not be able to get while overseas at Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, Inc. Unused or extra items like shampoo, soap, facial tissues, snacks, and even lip balm make great donations and could be a real treasure to our military men and women.
7. Clean out your closets!
Goodwill has always been an organization that helps a variety of causes in a variety of ways. They also make it easy for you to just drive up and drop off your items. That dress you haven’t worn in three years? Those old video games your son doesn’t play anymore? Donate them!
Not only will Goodwill shoppers find excellent deals on your donations, but the money goes back into the community to fund job training and other programs.
8. Check in with your neighbors
Sometimes those in need may only be a door away. Check in with your local community center or church to find out if there are any families in need in your neighborhood. You may be able to run errands for them, cook a hot meal for them, or even just visit with someone who’s homebound and lonely this holiday season.
9. Find others who volunteer
One way to meet new people with your same interests — all while lending a helping hand — is to volunteer. Volunteer Match is a fantastic way to find causes close to your heart to get involved with. Simply tell them your location and the cause your passionate about and they’ll provide a list of related organizations and programs near you.