(BPT) - The holidays are known for eliciting cheer, thanks and a sense of community as families come together to share some of their most treasured traditions, whether that's gathering for a special meal, organizing an activity or finding a way to give back to those less fortunate. Last year, Americans gave $316 billion to charity according to Giving USA, but it's not just financial donations needed. Many organizations depend on donations of time and kindness to get by.
No matter what you choose to donate, giving back feels good. Consider all the different ways you can expand your charitable giving this holiday season:
* Make a financial donation as a gift - Consider making a donation to a charity of choice in the name of the person who has everything. Many organizations will provide you with a thank-you card recognizing the donation, which you can then put under the tree for the holiday celebration.
* Choose gifts that give back - The holidays are a time when many companies make donations to charities.One such company is Hickory Farms, which will donate $5 to Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry campaign for every Party Planner Gift Box sold this holiday season, up to $500,000. This delicious gift box includes Summer Sausage, smooth and creamy cheeses, fresh nuts and crunchy snack mix.
'We are honored to be supported by Hickory Farms again this season. These kinds of partnerships enable us to scale and sustain our efforts to feed more children,' says Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength. 'Just $5 can help a child in need receive up to 50 meals. Every donation makes a huge difference.'
* Organize a drive - Food banks and clothing charities often struggle with providing enough sustainable food and warm clothing for those in need during the winter months. Have your family and friends ask coworkers and neighbors about donating to your local food bank or clothing charity. Send an announcement via email or post signs on doors a week in advance of your drive. This gives people a chance to collect additional items to be donated.
The holiday season is a time with endless opportunities to give back, whether it's to an organization you've long been affiliated with or to a new cause that you're just learning about. Giving back to others will help enhance all the emotions and warm feelings the holiday season is meant to bring.