8 Ways to Give Thanks Differently this Year

With Halloween behind us and the holiday season rapidly approaching, it's about that time to start preparing for those traditional family recipes and road trips to visit loved ones. I cherish my time spent with loved ones over the holidays and am extremely thankful I only have to travel a few hours to spend quality time with them. But it's important to remember that not everyone's holiday experience is the same, and for some a day like Thanksgiving can be challenging and difficult. Which is why this holiday season I challenge you (and I challenge myself!) to take time out of our busy days to give thanks in extra special ways this month. To give you some ideas on how to do this, I've come up with this list chock-full with acts of kindness - aka do-good deeds - that will either give back to the community or help others in need! These actions will help you say thanks this year in more ways than one, and with the hectic society we live in today, reaching out to others with love and kindness is the best thing we can do.

1. Visit a nursing home

Many nursing homes allow visitors to come in and participate in several different activities with the residents like crafting, playing board games, and reading books. You could also volunteer to help cook and serve Thanksgiving treats or meals while you're there. If you know how to play an instrument, they might enjoy hearing a little holiday tune. 

Back when I was in Girl Scouts, we made frequent visits to nursing homes to spend quality time with the residents and I can assure you that quality time means the world to them, especially during the holidays! If you need some helpful tips about what times are best to visit and what to bring, visit Legacy Project.

2. Volunteer at an animal shelter

Animals deserve a wonderful holiday too! If you're anything like me and want to take every single pup and kitty home, volunteering at an animal shelter is the next best thing! Shelters can always use some extra hands to help walk the dogs, play with the cats, or simply spend some time showing these precious creatures some love. Give them some hugs and kisses this holiday season so they know they're special too! 

If you can't give time to the animal shelter, you can always give donations. Animal shelters are generally always in need of food, toys, and supplies. Donations are the best way to keep these shelters going because it gives animals the essentials they need to stay healthy and happy. Whether you're able to give a bit of money this season or some dog and cat supplies to a shelter, a little donation goes a long way for these animals! Perhaps you'd like to spoil some cute pups with some treats and colorful toys, or wish to donate some grooming supplies. No matter what you donate, anything helps!

3. Invite others over for dinner

If you have plenty of food to go around that can feed more people beyond your own family, invite some neighbors over or someone who would enjoy company on Thanksgiving. This holiday is all about giving thanks and appreciating the people in our lives, so why not invite more people into our life story to celebrate with? This Thanksgiving, invite others to share a meal with you, offer someone in need a seat at your table, or simply donate your extra food to a soup kitchen or food pantry. 

4. Get involved with Habitat for Humanity

This is a time of year where it's especially important to have a roof over your head. Luckily, there's a nonprofit organization called Habitat for Humanity that builds and helps improve homes all around the globe for those in need. They're always welcoming volunteers to help with this process, and the best part is you don't have to travel far to make this happen! You can find your local Habitat for Humanity here.  You could help be apart of a creation that would give a family a lifetime of security and happiness.

5. Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is an incredible program that provides hot meals and companionship to seniors all over the country. They deliver food to those who have trouble getting around or going out to buy groceries, as well as provide those individuals with someone to talk to and spend time with. Their "America, Let's Do Lunch" campaign encourages people like us to donate our lunch break to seniors in need, delivering meals during the day when we can. Find your local program here, because hot meals are so important, especially around the holidays!

6. Get involved at your child's school

Getting involved at your child's school is important for a number of reasons, one of which is providing your time and efforts to help keep the educational system running smoothly. Perhaps the school is in need of a coach for the basketball team, or a volunteer to read to the elementary school kids during lunch. Maybe you could provide tutoring to a child in need at the school if there is a program set up to do so. Check in with your child's school, or simply a local school, to see what they need if you're available to volunteer some of your time for it. 

7. Clean out your closet: donate to non-profit organizations that assist others

If you have extra clothes or household items laying around that you don't use anymore, perhaps it's time to consider giving them away to people who could really use them. From clothes to toys to blankets, several families are in need of these items, especially during the winter. Rummage through your closets and basement and you just might find items that would greatly benefit another person or family. Plus, you'll be getting your home clean for the holidays at the same time. If you need help locating a shelter near you, take a peek at this map of service organizations nationwide.


8. Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is a lovely organization that helps raise money and collects toys to provide children with gifts for the holidays. If you have some toys or money that could go towards the purchase of toys that you're able to donate, now's the time. With Christmas and the holidays right around the corner, Toys for Tots is in need of your help more than ever right now. Find a local toy drop-off here. 

This year, give thanks differently by giving back to those who need it. I promise it will make your Thanksgiving the best yet!