Once again, the holiday season is here!  As we celebrate a season of thankfulness, surrounded by friends and family, and give gifts to those we cherish most in life, many chose to make this a season of giving back, to strangers both in their local community and around the world. No matter how much you have, there is always a way to help spread a little holiday cheer that might just make someone’s day!

  • While gifts come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes the most powerful gift can be something small and simple. Holiday toy drives are among the most popular ways to give during the holiday season, Toys for Tots among them. Keep in mind that these groups often provide gifts to children of all ages and genders, so be sure to keep everyone in mind when shopping for a few donation items. Some Local Toy Drives: Play It Forward Pittsburgh Batch A Toys Toys for Pittsburgh Tots
  • Charities come in all shapes and sizes, helping give aid to just about every group out there- from those in need in our own communities, to those in other countries. Most charities will happily accept financial donations, which can be used for a staggering array of purposes- from funding research to purchasing necessary goods to be distributed to those in need. You can even donate your time to some charities, volunteering to work at shelters or distribution centers.Ronald McDonald House Make-A-Wish Foundation     United Way      Project Linus    Family Giving Tree    One Simple Wish   Samaritan’s Purse
  • Donating used items can be an effective way to both help someone in need, while also helping clear out some clutter and help recycle goods. Gently used clothing can be given a second life with a new owner, thanks to a local clothing drive or through donation at a second-hand store. Other items, like electronics and furniture, can also be donated. Not only will it be available at an affordable price, but the sale of the item can also help fund other charity activities in the future. Salvation Army     Goodwill   St Vincent de Paul
  • Food brings people together, and in troubling times, knowing that you can keep food on the table can be a powerful motivator and morale boost for the less fortunate. Food drives and soup kitchens are great ways you can help give back this season. You can also pay it forward in drive-throughs, or by tipping extra generously to food service employees.
    Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank
  • If you’re healthy and willing, donating blood can be a deeply meaningful way to give the gift of life this season. America Red Cross
  • While many focus on the material aspects of giving, it’s also important to remember those who are in need of emotional giving during the holiday season. Reach out to a nursing or rehab facility to volunteer, visit, or write letters to those who might be feeling lonely during the holidays. The same applies for military members, with letters and care packages being a great way to thank them for their service.
    Blue Star Mother of Southwestern Pennsylvania  Find a Senior Center in  Greater Pittsburgh

Giving back is a great way to share our own blessings with those who aren’t as fortunate this holiday season. No matter what you can contribute, remember that you’re making a positive impact- whether you’re making a financial donation or just spending your time with someone who needs someone to talk to at the local café. Friendship can help bring communities together and make the world a better place, one smile at a time!