My kids are still trading Halloween candy, and yet it seems Christmas is already here. As a matter of fact, it’s been here for a while, hasn’t it? Like last year, the stores seem to be frightened that holiday spending will go down drastically, so they have done everything they can to pull people in early. As I try to escape the onslaught of commercials pushing every toy a child can imagine, I can’t help but think of those with nothing – the homeless, the poor, and the desperate.
It certainly is nothing unusual for the holiday season to be wrapped with thoughts of those excessively poor. The season is traditionally one where Christians, Jews, and people of all religious and cultural backgrounds find it within their hearts to help others. But today, when such a tragic economic situation has caused even those with jobs, homes, and food on their tables to live on less, what will happen to those in need?
This year, even if you and your family will be celebrating a “reduced” version of the holidays, perhaps you can still find a few ways to help those in need. Here are some ways you can be sure that your charitable contributions, even small ones, can make a difference.
Click for Charity
One way to make donations without spending a dime is to click on certain charitable organization’s websites. That’s right – just by clicking, corporate sponsors will make donations to that charity, for every click. And, you can click once every day to make a donation every day. Most sites also provide e-mail reminders to help you make those daily clicks. Check out the Click to Care Site for a list of numerous organizations that have click-to-donate programs. You can also click-to-donate at The Hunger Site, which will connect you to other sites that give clickable donations to a variety of causes.
Pennies Still Count for Something
Toss your spare change in the Salvation Army kettle, and it goes a long way to helping the poor in this country. As last year, The Salvation Army is asking donors to become "virtual bellringers" by creating their own virtual red kettle campaign to help raise funds without leaving home. And, the next time you are at the grocery store, why not grab a $2, $3, or $5 donation slip for Check Out Hunger. For every dollar you donate, you’ll be helping to provide 20 pounds of food and groceries to the poor. Join the United Way's new “More Pennies for Change” campaign and every time you use your credit or debit card, you’ll make a one cent donation to the United Way. And, when you visit The Greater Good, you’ll see a long list of international charitable organizations that will accept donations as small as $10 for a variety of causes, from world hunger, to AIDS care and prevention, to environmental preservation.
Of course, there are “Giving Trees” all around this time of year at churches and schools and even malls. Pick a name, buy a gift – something that can be done for very little money. If you can't find one, why not create one? Approach your church or Scout group, or school group and link with a local human services agency that serves children in need. There’s always Toys for Tots, which accepts new, unwrapped toys for underprivileged children all over America. Check out their website to find out the nearest toy drop-off location.
For more ideas about charitable giving, around the globe, or around your neighborhood, or to investigate a charity before you make a donation, visit The Charity Navigator. They provide an in-depth list of ways you can help for very little money.
Even in tough times, we can all find an easy and inexpensive way to help those in need. So, this year, while we are trimming our trees, lighting our menorahs, and exchanging gifts, let's find time to also remember those who are not so lucky. After all, isn’t that what the season is about anyway?
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