image source: The Blooming Homestead
Yesterday was World Philanthropy Day.
It stimulated a lot of discussion on line about the meaning of giving, and about how to find the means to donate.
Giving is much on our minds at this time of year. The holiday season sees many charitable activities, from collecting food for the food bank to sending gift boxes to children overseas. Community groups provide entertainment at seniors' homes and visit hospitals. "Angel Trees" help us provide gifts to children who might otherwise not have them.
It's important to us as a society to include everyone in the holiday spirit, including those less fortunate than ourselves. It can be a challenge, though, to find the wherewithal to make charitable donations when we're on a tight budget ourselves.
How can we manage it?
My Canuck Buck, recently wrote a good blog post to use coupons to help the less fortunate. There are many good ideas in the blog post itself, and in the readers' comments below. (My thanks to Canadian Budget Binder for bringing this post to my attention through his Facebook page.)
Some other ways to spread a little kindness at Christmas-time?
Buy coats at thrift shops and yard sales throughout the year and donate them to a coat drive. If you knit or crochet, you can make scarves, hats, mittens, or gloves to donate along with the coats. There are organizations in nearly every community who will help distribute them to people in need.
Blankets are always needed by homeless shelters and family crisis centers. Like coats, they can be purchased year-round, enabling you to spread the cost of the donation over a longer period of time.
Contact your food bank, homeless shelters, and crisis centers to find if there are specific items for which they are in need. You may be surprised at what's on the list. Underwear and socks are often needed by homeless people and by people forced to leave their homes without notice, yet neither are things we think to donate. The same may be said of sanitary napkins, diapers, and infant formula. Watch for sales on these items throughout the year and help out when you can. If you have coupons for these items, they're usually welcomed too.
NICU's (neonatal intensive car units) need tiny knitted caps for their small patients. They usually send these hats home with the babies once they leave the hospital, so their supply must constantly be renewed. It takes only a small amount of yarn and very little time to knit a preemie cap. You can find free knitting patterns at Bev's Country Cottage and Preemie Hat Project.
Many communities have toy drives at this time of year. The majority of the donations they receive are suitable for young children. Teens and tweens are often left out. As you shop sales throughout the year, try to keep these kids in mind and pick up a bargain or two to set aside for the holidays. (New gifts only, please. Toy drives usually don't accept used items.)
Seniors' drop in centers see a lot of traffic during the winter months. Farm markets often offer "family packs" with bulk quantities of potatoes, onions, and carrots that are both inexpensive and very useful to centers running lunch programs. (Please check with them before making your donation, to ensure they have adequate storage to accommodate it.)
Letter writing is very important to many of our elders. If you are a crafter, consider making a few extra greeting cards and donating them, along with envelopes and stamps, to the residents of a seniors' home.
If you can't donate money or goods, consider making a gift of your time. Most community organizations are constantly seeking volunteers. The few hours you give can make a huge difference in someone's life.
I'm sure there are lots of other frugal giving ideas out there. How do you help others? Inquiring minds want to know. :)
Need inspiration? Read about how a friend has inspired me to be more charitable at B on Balance.
The sign in the title image was made by Marie, at Blooming Homestead. You can find more images of the sign, together with information on how she made it at http://www.bloominghomestead.com/2012/09/pallet-wood-sign.html.
Thanks, Marie, for letting me use the image.