This time of year, many of us are counting our blessings, both large and small. Whether you have wonderful friends, a supportive family, a job you love, feeling grateful for all the good things in our life is a great way to boost your happiness and health

While it’s easy to keep scooping up gifts for your friends and family, this is also a perfect time of year to give back to others. And although we may think about giving back to those less fortunate, how many of us actually do it? 

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too complicated. And giving back to those in need is yet another way to improve your own happiness (win-win!). Even if you don’t have the a ton of funds or a lot of extra time on your hands, you can make a difference in someone else’s life this time of year. Here are eight easy ways to give back: 

1. Serve meals to those in need.

This is a fantastic way to give back this time of year when more folks are in need of a hot meal. Plus, it makes for a great family bonding activity, helping kids understand there’s more to the season than just getting gifts! Call your local homeless shelter or church to find out how you can get involved. Another easy idea: Buy an extra box of snack bars to keep in your car, and hand out a couple to any homeless folks you see as you run your errands.

2. Assist those affected by natural disasters.

Between the devastating hurricanes and the California wildfires this year, many people have found themselves in unimaginable emergency situations, losing everything they own. If you’re not local, sending money is one of the best ways to help. Click here for a list of nonprofit organizations that are helping people in the Caribbean, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, California, and other areas affected by natural disasters. Also, you can search GoFundMe for verified campaigns raising money for those impacted by these disasters. Any little bit helps! 

3. Give gifts that give back. 

Goodshop is a website that not only provides great online shopping deals, but also makes a donation to the nonprofit or school of your choice for every purchase you make. Plus, brands like Warby Parker (eyeglasses), TOMS (shoes), This Bar Saves Lives (snack bars), Soma (water bottles), FashionABLE (accessories), and Bombas (socks) donate their products to people in need when you buy from them. 

4. Clean out your closet. 

Let’s be honest: If you didn’t wear something in the last year, are you ever going to wear it in the future? Chances are you have plenty of clothes and shoes sitting in your closet that other folks will greatly appreciate. Donate your gently-used items to a place like Goodwill, Dress for Success, or Soles4Souls, and you’ll rest assured your items are going to good use.

5. Help a furry friend.

Call your local Humane Society or another animal shelter to see how you can help out. Spend some time walking dogs or caring for kitties can make a big difference in these creatures’ lives. 

6. Write a letter to soldiers overseas.

Operation Gratitude is a nonprofit that sends care packages to military personnel stationed away from home, thanking these men and women for their service. All you need is a pen, paper, and a little bit of time to brighten their day.

7. Share your skills.

Catchafire is a site where you easily help out a nonprofit that’s looking for help in your area of expertise. Simply enter in your skills and strengths, and see matching projects where your skills can come in handy. Most projects are online, so it’s an incredibly easy way to give back to an organization in need. 

8. Donate old books and magazines.

Depending on what types of media you’ve collected over the years, consider giving them to a school or retirement home where residents may not have access to the latest publications.


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