The holiday season is upon us and with festivities well underway, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos. However, the spirit of the holidays is one of giving and charity for many. Take part in the holiday spirit of charity to others with some of these ideas:

Give Gifts

The holidays can be a time of distress for many families. Consider giving back this season to children who are less fortunate. There are a number of ways to give back in your community through donations of holiday gifts. Contact your local Department of Human Services to help support a local foster family or orphan. Sadly there are children that will be removed from their current homes right before the holidays. These children will be placed with families who may not have been prepared to offer gifts to the children. Many DHS facilities take Christmas donations to give to these unexpected families. Others also have toy drives for their local foster families. Contact the local DHS office to see if your local DHS offers one of these programs.

Toys for Tots is a program sponsored by the US Marine Corps. The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. You can find your local drop site for Toys for Tots on the official Toys for Tots website.

If you have gently used toy items, drop them off at your local Salvation Army, Goodwill, women’s shelter, or homeless shelter. These gently loved items can offer a little holiday cheer for children who may otherwise not receive items this holiday season.

Donate Time

The gift of your time is one that many charities are more than happy to receive. Local soup kitchens and homeless shelters need volunteers during the holiday season to help pass out meals and just be a happy face for those in needs. Other programs may need help sorting toys for toy drives or delivering food to families in need. Your gift of time can be exactly what these organizations need to make a huge impact in your community.

If you aren’t sure of where to turn, call 2-1-1. 2-1-1 is a search and referral system by United Way that is designed to put people in need in touch with charitable organizations as well as volunteers in touch with charities in need. Simply dial 2-1-1 on your phone and you will be put into touch with a representative. Let the representative know that you are wanting to donate your time or resources to a local charity and they can provide you with a list of local organizations looking for the items you have described.

The holidays are the perfect time to help teach your children about giving back to the community. Have you donated time or items to a local charity this year?