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A dozen ways to make a difference this holiday season

Take some time this holiday season to think of others. If you are fortunate enough to be with family and friends for a meal during the holidays, think of those in need — those who may not know where their next meal will come from; those children who may wake up Christmas morning to nothing under the tree; those who are fighting for our freedom or fighting illness. The following is a list of ways to help others this season.

1. Give blood. The holiday season is busy with preparations, traveling and gift buying. The American Red Cross is always in need of blood and platelet donations, but especially during the holiday season. Visit www.redcross.org/give-blood to find a blood drive near you.

2. Donate to local food pantries. When buying ingredients for your holiday meal, think of others and buy a couple extra items to give to your local food pantry. A few items can go a long way.

3. Add a few extra seats to your table. Children Services is always in need of foster families. Contact your local county’s children services to find out how to get involved. Becoming a foster family can be a big commitment. If you are younger or unable to care for a child full-time, try becoming a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters to help and mentor a local child.

4. Visit senior citizens. Many people are unable to travel to their loved ones for the holidays. Seniors at local care facilities may only have loved ones who are out of state, unable to travel. A visit just to chat or play a game can improve their spirits around the holidays.

5. Animals need help, too. As the weather reaches colder temperatures, local animal shelters tend to fill capacity with lost or abandoned pets. Volunteer at a local shelter or drop-off some donations.

6. Host a donation drive at your workplace. Call a local food pantry, church or nonprofit to find out if they are collecting any donations for the holidays. Once you choose where the donations will go, send an email to coworkers and post a note in the breakroom along with a box for donations.

7. Send cards or donations to soldiers deployed overseas. The Red Cross’s Holidays for Heroes program is collecting holiday cards and donations to send to soldiers. For details, visit www.redcross.org or call your local Red Cross office.

8. Help out veterans through the Elk Lodge’s Adopt-a-Vet program. To participate, visit www.elks.org.

9. Help out a neighbor this winter. After you finish shoveling or snow-blowing your driveway, help out your neighbor with their’s. If you have a sidewalk in front of your house, shovel more than just your part. 

10. Volunteer at a local hospital. Hospital volunteers can help with many jobs, such as visiting patients, refreshing ice water, answering call lights, delivering meals, restocking supplies, greeting visitors, clerical work, delivering flowers and more. Contact your local hospital to find ways to get involved.

11. Paying-it-forward or a random act of kindness. Simply paying for the coffee or meal for the person behind you in line can make a difference in someone’s day. Make it a goal to say something nice or positive to five people each day. 

12. Kindness doesn’t have to break the bank. Go through your closet, book shelf, toy chest and food pantry and donate items to Goodwill, shelters, libraries or donation drives. The age-old classics of caroling and baking cookies for neighbors are can brighten someone’s day. Even just paying for a coffee for the person behind you in line can start a pay-it-forward domino effect.

Article source: http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/story/news/2017/11/23/dozen-ways-make-difference-holiday-season/844397001/

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