Spread The Charitable Holiday Cheer On A Budget

Rolling into the “ber” months has many of us anticipating the upcoming holidays. While December usually means plastic pine trees from Home Depot and the return of Starbucks’ secret menu, it is also a time of giving. Though it’s the simplest and most practical way to help others in need, we aren’t all equipped to donate money. (That is, of course, unless you’re Bill Gates) However, there are a plethora of different ways to spread the charitable holiday cheer on a budget — and it may be more rewarding than you think.

Making a physical donation is easily the most viable option for holiday busybodies. If money isn’t exactly on your side, choose to donate in kind. Considering that the Christmas season rakes in a lot of presents, there are probably household items you can choose to live without. You can pledge clothing to shelters and toys to children’s groups. Books can go to your local library and appliances or electronics can end up in Goodwill. Of course, it is best to ensure that the items in your “give” box are in good condition.

If you can spare a day being proactive, you can opt to give your time. Charities don’t only seek checks and boxes — they need people. Volunteer at a home, whether for the elderly, ill, or four-legged. Chances are, there will be a lot for you to do. A rise in nonprofit groups may leave you with a copious amount of options. If you’re unsure of where to start, figure out where your interests lie and what skills you have to offer. This is where making a list and checking it twice may come in handy. (Scoot over, Santa)

If you are keen on raising funds, plan something income-generating like a garage sale or auction. If you’re without a charity of choice, research a group that could use the money. Remember that you will make the greatest impact by sticking to one organization. A few hundred dollars will go a long way for a single cause as opposed to dividing costs between various groups.

Some people love experiencing the immediate effects of giving back. If you’re handy in the kitchen, consider running a food drive. Get your neighborhood in on the action. Decide what meals are easiest to throw together, and are most cost-efficient. Not only will you satisfy a handful of hungry tummies — you’ll bring the community together.

Needing a change? Or are you simply not so squeamish? Make a medical donation. Blood drives are common during the holidays and a perfectly suitable option for those who have managed to stay in shape. (Perhaps skip the fruit cake?) If you’re not too hot for needles, donate your hair! You’ll be surprised how many people are affected by hair loss due to medical conditions. Moms can also donate breast milk to milk banks.

Giving back can be rewarding, especially if you have the money to do so. But you can choose to be charitable every single day. The time you take to change someone’s life will likely be more meaningful than just a dollar bill.

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Charity Machines Help Third World Families

Vending machines are perfect for a quick fix on the go. They’re practically everywhere, but aren’t necessarily accessible to everyone. Since Nottingham introduced free machines for homeless customers, a Salt Lake church figured it’d do the same. The LDS establishment is kicking off the holiday cheer with a machine that operators can use to donate to needy families.

“You could donate a goat that gives milk, and someone can use it to support their family. There’s not many places around here where you can donate a goat,” [LDS executive director] Elder Nielson said.

Other goodies include first aid kits, school shoes, food items, and even chickens. Four machines cater to four different charities, and will be around for the season. LDS, however, hopes to keep them running, with the help of partner groups and volunteers.

“Sometimes it’s hard to know how to give, where to give. This is simple way to donate to a charity,” Elder Nielson said. “We are hoping people see how easy it is to give a few dollars or share money with a charity in need.”

“Sharing is caring” has never been truer. Especially now.

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Anatolian Town Offers Free Meals To The Poor

Around the world, free meals have been making it into the mouths of the hungry at an impressive scale. In New York public schools, lunches are free of charge. Soup kitchens, like La Soupe in Cincinnati, are growing in abundance across the nation. This modest Anatolian town is home to Merkez restaurant, which offers free meals to the poor.

On any given day, [owner Mehmet] Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people.

Merkez owners have been serving free meals for a healthy 70 years. Menu items include rice, chicken, soup, and, of course, kebabs. On Islamic holidays, Merkez provides feasts at no cost to the entire town of Karakocan.

“No matter who you ask in Elazig, they will tell you about Karakocan’s generosity,” [says Hasan Gulbasan, restaurant manager in Karakocan.]

Karakocan has aided causes for Syria’s Aleppo as well as victims of the Van earthquake in 2011. Many claim to engage in philanthropic activities for the sake of barakah (blessings), but are also just inherently giving. If there is one thing this little Turkish community can preach, it’s that generosity never gets old.

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