For many, the holidays are a time of cheer and goodwill. But unfortunately, that feeling is not ubiquitous. There are families who don’t have a home, who can’t afford to purchase presents, and individuals who are feeling isolated. 

How can we ensure that no one gets left behind this holiday season?  

Seeing as this is the season of giving, here are some ways you can give back, helping your community and the wider world. 

Ways to Help This Year

This year, giving back at Christmas may take some extra creativity. With COVID still an active part of our lives, people need to be extra mindful about how to help others. That said, there are a variety of ways you can get into the holiday giving spirit, including: 

  • Writing letters – This is a free and easy way you can make a difference in someone’s life. Although letter writing is uncommon nowadays, practically everyone appreciates a thoughtful handwritten message. These days, the people who are in greatest need of a kind word are those most impacted by the pandemic—the elderly and our frontline workers. Many healthcare workers won’t be able to take the time off, many elderly may have to spend the holidays in isolation; showing your appreciation via cards can bring some sorely needed cheer.
  • Volunteering – There are few gifts that have as large of an impact as your time. Whether you’re cleaning up the community, serving meals to the homeless, or helping others in need, there are dozens of ways to give back. The Red Cross, Salvation Army, local nonprofits and shelters will all be glad for the volunteers. 
  • Making deliveries for others – Seniors, high-risk individuals, or people with disabilities may not be able or feel safe to go to the store. You can help them by shopping for gifts, groceries, meals, or medication on their behalf. There are countless service groups or local nonprofits that put together these types of volunteer networks. 

Holiday Gifts That Give Back

There are simple things you can give that can make all the difference in the world. These include: 

  • Donating blood – When you donate your blood, you’re sharing your life force with someone who needs it. Blood and plasma service centers are still up and running (following CDC COVID guidelines, of course) and in desperate need for more volunteers. 
  • Sending a care package to the troops – It’s easy to forget that there are men and women serving the country abroad who won’t have a traditional holiday season with their friends and family. Our troops need to be shown love as well. Consider putting together a care package and writing a letter. Such a simple act of kindness can help someone who is sacrificing so much. 
  • Donating food and supplies – Local food and animal shelters always need more supplies. Consider donating supplies and foods, or participating in a food drive. In doing so, you can make sure that no person (or pup!) has to spend the holidays hungry. 

How to Give Back While Maintaining Social Distance

COVID will make it trickier to give back this year. That said, there are creative ways to maintain safety protocols, while still making a difference in the lives of others:

  • Give online – Online Christmas donations can go a long way, both at home and abroad. Nonprofits, churches, and charities could always use money to fund their efforts to better the world. If you have extra money to spare, consider what your donations could do in the lives of others less fortunate than yourself. It could mean gifts, meals, basic amenities, and life changing medical services.
  • Phone hotlines – There are a variety of phone and video services that help people in need. Whether it be senior connections or sucide hotlines, sometimes all people need is a friendly ear—someone to listen and make them feel less alone. The holiday blues are a real thing, and this year will likely be the worst for many in recent memory. Simply giving up time and energy to engage in a phone conversation could make the difference for someone this year. 
  • Donate toys – There are some kids who may not have any gifts under their tree. You could be the person that changes that. Virtual toy drive platforms like Donate a Toy are always looking for more contributions.  

Here’s Your Chance to Give Back!

Whether it’s your time, money, resources, skills, or energy, there are dozens of ways that you can give back this holiday season. At Volunteers of America Southwest, our mission is to uplift the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. 

We serve disadvantaged youth, adults with substance use disorders, the mentally ill, homeless veterans, and low income seniors. If you feel called to, know that every dollar or donation we receive will make a tangible difference in the life of someone else. 

Together, we can bring holiday cheer to those less fortunate. Donate Today.


Advent Health. Blood Donations Critical During COVID-19.

CDC. How to Protect Yourself & Others.