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Spread Some Cheer This Holiday and Give Back

Posted Dec 17 2012 7:33am

The end of the year is approaching and with the cool weather, holiday cheer and festive decorations, it's easy to become influenced do something extra special this year. Volunteering your time and giving back to your community is the best way to spread happiness to everyone around you. So this year, take the time out of your day or in between holiday shopping to donate your time and make those who are less fortunate have a happy holiday season as well.

Volunteer

Hospitals often bring memories of sickness and sad times, but also new life. One way to give back this holiday is to donate some blood to your local hospital. Some patients are in dire need of blood transfusions and the best gift you can give them this year is the gift of your blood. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds and more than 44,000 blood donations are needed every day. So this year take time from your busy schedule to donate life by donating your blood.

Read Across America Day is a day to celebrate reading, but, why wait for one day a year? Donate some new or used books to a variety of local charities and thrift stores so everyone has a chance to empower their mind and read inspiring books. Some inspirational books include "Outrageous, Contagious Joy" by Ed Young , "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho and "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Hundreds of families were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 and many of them are still left with nothing. Celebrities like country singer Darius Rucker is donating $10,000 worth of toys with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, according to The Boot. Rucker has partnered with digital media company Eventful and together they will donate thousands of toys to the children in the Lindenhurst, N.Y. area.

Mutts and Mutts Animal Rescue League, a Michigan rescue shelter, is coming together to collect pet supplies to help New Jersey pet victims. According to Observer & Eccentric, Donna Law, president of Mutts and Mutts, said they are hoping to ship all the donated items to the New Jersey area in February.

If you would like to help out Hurricane Sandy victims, there are a number of sites, like the American Red Cross , where you can donate money to help provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance.

Help keep those who are less fortunate than you fed and happy with warm food during these winter months. Volunteering at your local soup kitchen will keep the homeless or hungry fed, happy and is an experience you will never forget. Most soup kitchens have four or five hour volunteer shifts and you might need training before you can start, so don't be surprised if you have to go through a training course or need to become a certified food handler.

To make way for the new items holiday gifts will bring, go through your home and gather up clothing, home goods, blankets or anything else you have lying around that you no longer want or use. You can donate it to local charities and organizations like the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program, The Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive, Cell Phones for Soldiers, and Feeding America, stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Local or megachurch's like Pastor Young's are also great community causes. If you're finding it hard to get rid of some of those clothes, just follow this simple rule: If you haven't worn it for over six months, then it's time to let it go.

Authored by: Willa Reese - A teacher, vocal coach and mom, Willa loves teaching kids the joys of being on stage and putting on holiday pageants.

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