Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season
The Holidays can be a difficult time for people. Stress of trying to find the perfect gift, stress of trying to afford the perfect gift, stress of finding the time to get the perfect gift…there’s a lot of pressure. People often say that they hate that the holidays have become “so commercialized”, and to an extent I agree. However, I try to still focus on the idea behind that commercialization – giving.
Regardless of which holiday you celebrate, the holidays are meant to be a time for selfless giving, but we often forget about the simplicity of that idea. I’ve had to change my mindset from “I wonder what they’re going to get me so that I can match it” to “I want to get this because I know they’ll really like it”. It’s shouldn’t be about getting something back – it should be about giving selflessly to make someone else happy. It shouldn’t matter if you made the gift or spent $1,000, but that you did it because your intent was to make another person happy.
Each year, I make it a point to give to charities that are close to my heart – and I encourage others to do so as well! Again, it’s not about how much you spend – if $5 is all you can afford, it doesn’t make it any less appreciated by those who benefit from it.
That being said, I wanted to share some of my favorite charity/charitable ideas. Of course, for those who know me, my two biggest passions are travel/adventure, and my dog, so that’s what you can expect to find below!
Charity Ideas: Travel/Adventure Foundations
After the tragedy in Nepal this past April, I came across this article from National Geographic on ways to help Sherpas. For those who read my last post about my Everest trip – I am highly fascinated by the Sherpa culture, and I recognize how hard they work and how much they put their lives at risk simply to support their family. But what happens to that family if their loved one (and often sole provider) is killed on the trek? Luckily, there are multiple charities that recognize and help to support the Sherpas and their families – this article lists out a few really cool ones! Unfortunately it looks like the first one with the option to purchase a photo is no longer available, but you are still able to donate!
National and State Park Foundations
Every year, I coordinate a trip to Yosemite for Thanksgiving. Each year I get to introduce new people to the magic of Yosemite, and they are always in awe of how incredible it is, but what we often don’t realize is what goes in to keeping it that way. Here are a few charities that do great things so that we can enjoy our beautiful parks.
- California State Parks Foundation – Donate today, and your donation will be matched!
- Yosemite Conservancy
- National Park Foundation
- National Forest Foundation
- Sierra Club
Charity Ideas: Animal Foundations
- Hope for Paws – Have you SEEN their videos!? Thanks to social media, this organization has received a ton of exposure, and rightfully so. From everything I see and read, Audrey and Eldad Hagar are genuinely concerned about saving animals that are abandoned and/or neglected, and they’ve completed stolen my heart. I can’t even begin to express how much I admire people like this who devote their lives to helping those who cannot help themselves.
- ECAD, Educated Canines Assisting with Disabilities – If you’ve ever known someone with a disability, whether physical or mental, and you’ve seen how they interact with animals, you’ll know how impactful this charity is. Dogs not only provide companionship, but also safety and security. My dog has personally helped me through difficult times in my life, and I don’t even have any disabilities (being neurotic doesn’t count!). Getting and training a service dog can be very expensive, so I am thankful there are charities like this one that step in to help when they can.
Charity Ideas: Other honorable mentions for animal charities
- It’s the Pits Dog Rescue – Specializing in the Bully Breeds
- Animal Rescuers without Borders
- The Humane Society
- Helen Woodward Animal Center
- ASPCA – American Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals
Many charities, especially during the holidays, will match your contribution so make note of that as you’re searching for a charity to donate to! Charity Navigator is also a very helpful tool to search different charities so that you can research how your contribution will be used. Not all will be listed and rated as this only includes charities that have at least $1 million in revenue.
“For it is in giving that we receive” – Francis of Assisi