The holidays, for many families, is a time to give back to those in need. But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Why not implement a new family tradition this year by working together to give something back to the community? You can start with your family interests and go from there!

Animals

If your family has a particular interest in helping animals, there are a number of ways you can give back to the furry friends in your community. Contact your local animal shelter or humane society and consider signing up as a volunteer. Volunteers can do a variety of tasks from walking, training, feeding, or just petting the animals. Many shelters allow young children to participate as long as their parent is present.

If you can’t donate your time to a shelter, consider giving items that are needed. Many shelters rely heavily on donations for necessities such as food and toys. Deliver the items together as a family.

Want to help long term? Fostering a pet or adopting a pet from the local shelter can literally save a life.

Environment

Does your family feel strongly about helping the environment? If so, give back to Mother Nature this holiday season. Adopt a local park or roadway and help pick up litter. Just make sure everyone uses gloves and that children never handle broken glass or sharp objects.

If you haven’t already, consider starting a recycling bin in your home. Allow the children to help sort the items into the appropriate bin. This can be the start to a year-long commitment to nature. Be sure to recycle all that Christmas wrapping paper and packaging!

People

Do you prefer to give back directly to people in need? There are many different needs that must be met for families during the holiday season. The holidays can be a trying time for families who are struggling to meet their basic needs. Donating items to a local toy drive or community food drive can help ensure children receive gifts this holiday season as well as a nice holiday meal.

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, consider donating time at a local food bank or collection site. Community organizations rely on volunteers to help pass out food, collect donations, and sort goods. During the holidays, organizations can be especially short handed. Contact your local food bank to see how you can help.

Want to extend your hand beyond your local community? There are a number of fantastic non-profit organizations that offer services across the world. The Water Project is one such organization. The Water Project allows you to start your own family campaign. They are currently running a “Change Christmas” campaign for those who would just like to donate without starting their own campaign. The Water Project focuses on providing clean and safe water sources to communities in need.

Does your family have a tradition of giving back during the holidays? What is your favorite charity to give to?