1. GIVE BIG TO SOMETHING SMALL
Often it can feel like that in order to give, its gotta be big. This is not true. You don't have to travel to the ends of the earth to find someone or something that needs you. We can all treat the opportunities that come our way with follow through, energy, passion, respect and honor. Find someone or something in your life that needs you, that needs your gifts, your time, your skills, your knowledge, your kindness and give like you have never given before- give BIG to them.
2. USE YOUR SOCIAL NETWORK FOR GOOD
Instead of using your your social network to play Farmville, visit people from high school or to report what you ate for dinner, try using it to promote a cause, raise awareness or even raise money.
Word travels fast in cyberspace so why not make it meaningful.
3. SUPPORT OUR TROOPS BY SAYING THANK YOU
Did you know that right now we are all one click away from personally thanking or sending encouragement to the military? Whether or not you agree with the wars that we are fight- we have men and women whose lives are dedicated to serving our country, who are far away and have families that are affected. Why not send a message, spread some love, reach out and say thank you. I LOVE how easy yet profound this is!
3. GIVE MONEY
I know it sounds cliche and impersonal but as we all know, every single penny counts and these days there are so many organizations that fit with our individual passions. From buying chickens for a family, to cancer research, to digging a well, to supporting education there are SO MANY opportunities to give. You could even consider giving donations in someone else's name instead of buying gifts!
To find just about any charity organization- visit Charity Finder and look for something that fits you.
4. BE A FRIEND
If you have ever visited a retirement home, you will know that we have so many elderly just waiting for friendship, interaction and purpose. Contact a local retirement home and find out if there are opportunities to get involved, be a friend or even organize and event. Most assisted living or retirement homes will have an activities director that is always looking for new ideas, activities and programming.
5. BE A BIG TIPPER
Instead of just the standard 15% leave a HUGE tip for your waitstaff, slip $20 (instead of $2) to the shuttle driver at the airport or give your taxi driver a big something extra. It is so easy to take the men and women in the service industry for granted, why not show some extra appreciation.
6. FOOD DRIVE
Did you know (according to Feeding America Stats) that EACH WEEK 5.7 million people receive emergency food from a food assistance agency? Local food banks, food drives, community programs are everywhere- especially during the holidays- and it couldn't be easier to participate and donate to. Find a local food drive in your community or visit Feeding America for ways to get involved to fight hunger in the U.S.
7. CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET
Simple, easy and something we all probably need to do! But instead of giving all the old stuff you don't wear anymore, try to also pull things that you just don't need (like that really pretty jacket that you never wear but it cost too much to get rid of) or consider going shopping for new clothing that you can also donate to a drive. This time of year is a great time to find opportunities to donate clothing (blankets, toys, etc) in communities everywhere. From shelters to schools, take a little time and do some research to see who is collecting.
8. SHOP FOR CHARITY
This holiday instead of your typical shopping, shop for charity. Tons of companies and non profits organizations provide the option to shop and a percentage of your purchase goes to charity. Visit iGive.com for a list of resources and participating stores.
9. UTILIZE YOUR GIFTS
Are you a good cook, great photographer, talented graphic designer, fabulous handyman or woman? Put your passion and your gifts to use and share them with someone. Offer a free photo session, teach a workshop for free, cook a fancy meal for friends, help a neighbor with home repairs. We all have gifts, something that comes easy and things we are comfortable doing- share them with those around you and expect nothing in return.
10. MAKE A GIVING SCHEDULE
As amazing as volunteering, getting involved with programs and giving back is, often it seems finding time in today's world is the biggest obstacle in being consistent. With the holiday madness soon behind us, start now by making a schedule for giving. Do a little research, find some opportunities that inspire you and pull out the calendar and schedule time for the year.
Phew! There you have it~ my "Pay It Forward" List for the Holiday season.
I was inspired by so many sources when I started to put this list together. I hope it helps all of you .