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10 ways to give back with your family

Red heart in child kid and mother hands on old blue wooden table
Photo credit: Sasiistock/Getty Images

Every day, it’s worth taking the time to show gratitude, to be thankful for our blessings — and, hopefully, for paying it forward for all the times someone has done a good deed for us.

My daughter is getting to the age where she can help participate in giving back to our neighbors and the community, and I’d like to teach her the importance of helping others. My plan is to start an annual tradition where together as a family we give back over the holiday season. As a wise friend once told me, “You don’t have to be rich, you just have to make the time.”

1. Volunteer at a soup kitchen

This might be the most obvious option, but it truly is a small way to make a big difference. And you’d be surprised at how much the people you serve impact your life. Here is a great tutorial on how to get started by

2. Spend time at a nursing home

Spend time with those who may not have family to visit them around the holidays. You can sing or read, play cards, or simply share stories and cookies together. Make lifelong connections with people who may not have anyone else. Read more about how to volunteer at a nursing home on How Stuff Works.

3. Collect clothing and toys for the homeless

Go through all of your closets, toy boxes, and storage areas to find toys, clothing, shoes, jackets, and winter gear for the homeless. Recruit your friends, families, neighbors, and coworkers to do the same and deliver the goods to your nearest shelter.

4. Donate blood to the American Red Cross

What better way to give back than to save a life? Go to the American Red Cross website to find out how.

5. Play with animals at your local shelter

Pets need love, too! The Humane Society is always in need of volunteers to clean, play with, and walk the animals. Plus, who doesn’t love to snuggle with cute cats and dogs?

6. Participate in a charity 5K

From “gobble jogs” to “turkey trots,” there are races in almost every corner of the country around Thanksgiving time! Research a local 5K near you that raises money for the needy, and sign up yourself and your family members! (Burning a few extra calories around the holidays can’t hurt either.) Where to start? Find out here! 8 Turkey Trots to participate in around the country in 2017

7. Invite someone to join you for Thanksgiving dinner

Invite that lonely coworker, elderly neighbor, or out-of-state college student to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with you. No one should spend the holiday alone. Spread the love and all of the amazing food you’re going to prepare.

8. Create care packages for soldiers stationed overseas

Soldiers risk their lives every day for us. One way to show your appreciation is to help create care packages for them! Check out how to do it on Any Soldier.

9. Visit hospital patients

Bring homemade cards and cookies, or even your pet (call to make sure it’s allowed first), to a local children’s hospital to help cheer up patients. The kids will love to play with the fur babies!

10. Clean up the environment

Over Thanksgiving weekend, spend a few hours cleaning up your local community! You’ll be making your neighborhood a cleaner place for everyone to appreciate. This is a task that the kids can easily help be a part of and enjoy.


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