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How Do You Give Back During the Holidays? 

Real Simple readers share the many ways they spread good cheer.

Plate of Christmas cookies and sheet musich Kate Sears

Volunteering

We have decided as a family to serve others during the holidays, so on Christmas Day we volunteer at a local nonprofit that helps children with disabilities. This helps takes the focus off “stuff” and puts it back where it needs to be.  Monica Leibacher 
Celebration, Florida 
 
 

Keeping It Up All Year

Giving back during the holidays and giving back on any other day of the year should be the same: a warm smile, a “please” or a “thank you,” and maybe a nice hug. Instead of laying on your horn in traffic or pushing your way to the front of a line, take the time to make others’ days a bit happier and you’ll find you’ve given yourself the gift of happiness, too.
Sandi Pealman
Fredericksburg, Virginia
 
We have adopted families and dished out food at our local gospel mission during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the greatest way we have found to give back is to remember to do it all year long. Summer can be especially hard on food banks, and the needs are there year-round, not just at the holidays. We need to feel generous and thankful every day.
Karen Bertsch
Kennewick, Washington
 
We don’t make giving just a seasonal thing. Our kids are involved, and we sponsor a child’s care in a special program at an orphanage in China (halfthesky.org) throughout the year. I also coordinate a program at my daughter’s former orphanage in China. It’s about giving of yourself, not giving money. That is what I want my kids to know, however they decide to give back as they grow.
Maya Smith
Aurora, Colorado
 
During the holidays, as well as on special occasions, I often think of the word generosity when honoring friends and family. Generosity can be organizing a room in a friend’s house or sitting with a colleague’s aging parent so that she can run errands. Generosity can also mean helping out our local and worldwide communities: a donation to my church’s food pantry in my buddy’s name, lending support to my city’s latest Habitat for Humanity project, or a gift of service through the Seva Foundation, Heifer International, or Doctors Without Borders for my compassionate nephews. Most people I know are blessed with all the “things” they need, but gifts of generosity strengthen the spirit.
Eileen Heidenheimer
St. Louis, Missouri
 
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