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30 Ways to Give Back During the Holiday Season, Even When You Have Nothing to Give

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Most moms after divorce have very little “extra” in their lives. Living as a single parent is a serious struggle financially. Especially during the holiday season when things get real tight. For so long, I considered ways to give back during the holiday season. I thought, “I wish I could donate more” because I didn’t have two pennies to rub together. But then I discovered Kristina Kuzmic.

Kristina Kuzmic, one of my idol mom vloggers, made a beautiful video this past summer about her turning point after her divorce. She was in a dark, depressing place, completely broke caring for two kids in a one bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor, and worrying about making rent. Tired of obsessing over her problems, she realized that perhaps by giving back she could move her focus to other people, instead.

But nobody wanted her help…

Even though she was rejected from every soup kitchen, children’s hospital, and all volunteer work she applied for – due to her two small children – she refused to give up. She used what she could in order to cook a huge dinner and told everyone who needed a hot meal to join her.

YouTube video

We can learn a lot from Kristina. Even though she had almost nothing at the time, she gave what she could: a piping hot home-cooked meal.

Have you been wanting to give back but always assumed you didn’t have anything to give? I’ve felt the same way for quite some time. Which is why I made this list of easy and unique ways of giving back this holiday season. Even when I have no money or no time, Kristina has proved there’s always a way I can help others.

What’s even better is how much these ideas can teach your kids! Show them the value of giving rather than receiving. Set the example and start giving back this year – and have your kids tag along to help!

Ways to Give Back During the Holiday Season, Even When You Have Nothing to Give

If you have food:

  1. Cook a big meal and invite those in need to join you.
  2. Cook a big meal and deliver it to a family in need.
  3. Bake homemade dog (and cat!) treats then take them to local animal shelters.
  4. Invite single soldiers or veterans to join you for a holiday dinner.
  5. Bake cookies with the kids and hand deliver them to your local fire station and/or police station.

If you have “stuff”:

  1. Ask friends, family, or members of your community who they think may be in need of all the toys and clothes your kids have outgrown.
  2. Donate blankets you don’t need anymore to the homeless, or local animal shelters.
  3. Donate your extra, barely used school supplies to local schools in need.
  4. Host a community garage sale with your neighbors and donate all the proceeds to local homeless shelters, food banks, or schools.
  5. Fill a bag full of gently used, unwanted toys and donate to a local shelter for abused women and children (be sure to call them or lookup their donation policies online before visiting).

If you have time:

  1. Visit the elderly with homemade cookies and paint the ladies’ nails!
  2. Donate your time to Toys for Tots and help them sort toys.
  3. Make cards and crafts for the elderly and/or homeless with your kids. Hand deliver them!
  4. Contact local businesses to raise money for things that local schools need. (Computers, textbooks, etc.)
  5. Host an event or party to fundraise for Comfort Cases, where they assemble bags full of much-needed items to give kids in the foster system.
  6. Volunteer and get involved with Comfort Cases to pack bags for foster kids.
  7. Contact friends, family, and local businesses to raise money or supplies for local animal shelters.
  8. Visit local animal shelters to play with and spend time with the animals.
  9. Run a local 5K or 10K that is being hosted for a good cause!
  10. Write a thank you letter to soldiers away from home with Operation Gratitude.
  11. Help build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
  12. Become a CASA volunteer and help advocate for children’s needs in the foster system.

If you have money:

  1. Buy backpacks and fill them with travel sized essential items like soap, toothbrushes, snacks, socks, restaurant or grocery store gift cards, etc. then pass them out to homeless people.
  2. Pay off someone’s layaway. Visit a local store like Wal-mart and ask the layaway worker to look up layaways with kids items that haven’t been paid. Pay them off!
  3. Adopt a child off an angel tree and buy them gifts. Donate to local toy drives.
  4. Pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child – fill them with toys, hygiene items, or school supplies.
  5. Contact local schools and pay off children’s unpaid lunch accounts.
  6. Donate restaurant and grocery store gift cards to local high schools for students who are homeless and/or in need.
  7. Send care packages to soldiers away from home with Operation Gratitude.
  8. Donate supplies to Comfort Cases and help kids in the foster system get the items they need.

How to Give Back to Your Friends and Neighbors Even if You Have Nothing to Give | Volunteerism | How to Give Back to your Community | Giving Back Ideas that Don't Include Money

How to Give Back to Your Friends and Neighbors Even if You Have Nothing to Give | Volunteerism | How to Give Back to your Community | Giving Back Ideas that Don't Include Money

Finding ways to give back during the holiday season is uplifting and encouraging.

Our family will be following Kristina’s example this year! I may not have much (heck, I don’t even have a house! I’m living with my ex-husband and his wife!) but I still have much to give. Hopefully by starting small with tree angels, baking cookies for the elderly, visiting animal shelters, or making a huge meal, my daughters will learn the value in giving. Maybe I’ll even “splurge” a little and donate supplies to Comfort Cases!

Are you giving back this year? Let me know in the comments!

PS: Interested in some ideas for teaching your kids to give back? Here are 4 simple ideas for volunteer activities for children.

1 thought on “30 Ways to Give Back During the Holiday Season, Even When You Have Nothing to Give”

  1. Hey Amanda – just wanted to drop a note of thanks for including visits to the elderly on your giving back list. Many elderly people feel alone, especially during the holiday season. I am in and out of nursing homes frequently and so often see many of these people sitting alone. If you don’t have time to go to a nursing home or senior center, find an elderly neighbor and bring them a few cookies or sweets. The smile you get back is very rewarding!

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