In our family, we try to be thankful year ’round, but traditionally, November is the time that we focus on giving thanks. Part of that process (for us anyway) is recognizing that no matter how hard we have it sometimes, there is always someone in a worse place, and knowing that maybe WE can so something to change that.
Fostering the feeling of being charitable is a big part of our holiday season.
Being thankful is only half of the holiday. Being a blessing to others, or being a vehicle to provide an opportunity for others to be thankful, well, that is (as Paul Harvey used to say) the rest of the story.
While other people may do their spring cleaning in March, we make another run through our closets and toy chests, making room for what we will receive during the holidays, but also with the idea that we can share some of our things with those who are not as fortunate.
We choose charities to donate to in lieu of soon to be forgotten gifts.
We choose causes and figure out how we can contribute- but that doesn’t mean we just have to give “stuff” or money, there are lots of opportunities to give, and your kids can get involved too!
Did you know that you can take a few minutes and with just a few clicks, NO MONEY, that you can donate to worthy causes? It’t true! One of my kids favorite sites is freerice.com. By answering questions (in common school subjects) sponsors of the site will donate a specified number of grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme. So, they can practice their fractions, vocabulary or whatever, and at the same time, feed a hungry child somewhere else in the world. If you want to brush up on your decimals or geography, so can you. The longer you play, the more you donate. Zero cost to you, bonus practice for them. Win-win. Right now there is a program.
Free Rice isn’t the only website with free clicks to donate, in fact there is an entire website called “click to donate” which compiles a number of sites and causes that offer donations in return for website “clicks.” How easy is that?
Other websites, like the new platform anchr offer a donation with confirmed membership. In honor of Veterans day, if you join anchr (for free!) they will make a $1 donation to the Semper Fi/Injured Marine fund.
If you are ready to commit just a little bit beyond free clicks, another organization that we love is Kiva. Kiva gives you the chance to make small loans to borrowers working to start businesses and improve their lives. Its really something we have enjoyed doing as a family. We can choose the type of loan, the country, and even the individual to receive it. We are provided information about risk and return to help us make our decision because here is the really cool part: When you are paid back, you can loan the same money out again! In the 3 years that we have been a member, our initial $200 has helped 32 recipients in 21 countries to equal over $1,100 in loans ( the same money being re-lent after it was paid) Helping a teen in Africa pay for school books, a family in Mongolia to winterize their home, or a co-op in Peru to purchase farming equipment are just a few of the things we have chosen. It’s a great reminder of how blessed we truly are, and a good task for my kids to choose just the right recipient. If you want to give Kiva a try, click here for a limited time offer to award a FREE $25 sponsored loan (no cost to you, just a chance to try it out) hopefully, you will be hooked and want to contribute like we have!
And lets not forget the venues I mentioned in my previous post- Shop ‘Til You Drop There are several websites, such as Amazon Smile, that will donate a portion of your holiday shopping to the cause of your choice, if you just use their link!
Of course, there are always the traditional routes. Every charitable organization would be very grateful for a monetary donation or a contribution of your time. We donate a percentage of gift money that we receive, and one of the kids favorite causes? Paws F0r Irving Animals. My boys have a soft spot for shelter dogs (something I talked about in Living With Juvenile Arthritis: A Parent’s Guide) and I like to make some of our charitable giving and thinking broader than just about their disease. It makes the giving more about others, than just about things that will impact them as a beneficiary.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t also give time and resources to causes near to MY heart (yes, arthritis ones, because of them) We are fundraising for and participating in the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run this month, a combo of time AND money. If you are feeling extra charitable, you can contribute to our team or join a run near you!
I hope that this might inspire you to feel charitable, and explore a few other ways to give that you might not have known about, or realized that with just a little effort, you could make a difference!
Do you have any other favorite ways to act on the urge when you are feeling charitable?