5 Ways to Make A Difference Over the Holidays [LIST]

Get to know some worthy causes that could do with your support this holiday season.

Nov 18, 2014
Making a difference over the holidays

Spreading some holiday cheer (Shutterstock)

The holiday season brings with it a lot of fun - family and friends, laughter, food and good cheer. It is also a time full of meaning - giving thanks, exchanging gifts, sharing traditions and creating treasured memories.
As we focus inwards, and think of the people closest to us, this festive time of year can serve as an opportunity to look around and see what we can do to make the world a better place. These five holiday drives are just the chance to step up and do some good, and really make a difference – so that the holidays can be a special time for everyone.

1. CHRISTMAS JUMPER DAY

WHAT: Christmas jumpers - otherwise known as knitted sweaters - are making a revival with this UK-based initiative. A Save the Children initiative, Christmas Jumper Day encourages people to sign up, spread the word and then wear a jumper and donate to help save lives in 120 countries around the world.
WHERE: Now in its third year, the drive is popular in workplaces and schools alike. Educators who want to take it a step further can sign up for a teachers kit to make doing good fun and appealing to children.
WHEN: Friday, December 16, 2016

Promoting Christmas Jumpers Day

Promoting Christmas Jumpers Day (Facebook)

2. #GIVING TUESDAY

WHAT: After the super meaningful holiday of Thanksgiving comes two days dedicated to shopping - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Then comes another opportunity to do good - Giving Tuesday, a day for giving back to the community. The idea is simple and generous: find a way to make a difference - either alone or as a family or community - and then tell everyone about it, encouraging others to do the same. You could give a tweet to a worthy cause, give your time, give up your seat, give money… the possibilities are endless.  
WHERE: Anywhere and everywhere.
WHEN: Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#GivingTuesday

Giving kindness (#GivingTuesday website)

3. MODEST NEEDS HOLIDAY GIFT GRANT

WHAT: All year round, Modest Needs works to keep people self-sufficient, by crowdfunding specific requests from those living paycheck-to-paycheck and faced with unexpected or emergency expenses. Donations are funnelled straight to the source - for example an unexpected medical bill for a single mother, or a rent for a struggling veteran. Over the holidays, the organization runs a Holiday Gift Grant program, to help those families who, because of a financial emergency or unanticipated expenses, won’t be able to afford holiday presents for their kids.
WHERE: Grants can be made on the Modest Needs website, to help people in need across the US.
WHEN: From November 3 to December 9, 2016 - so gifts can be shipped in time for the holidays.

Giving holiday gifts through Modest Needs

Giving holiday gifts (Modest Needs website)

4. MAKE-A-WISH HOLIDAY CARDS

WHAT: The well-established and super inspirational Make-A-Wish organization grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, on average, every 38 minutes. That statistic is just, wow. So powerful. For the holiday period, the nonprofit sells holiday cards, which you can buy along with a donation to support these special wish experiences.
WHERE: The cards - which feature artwork inspired by wish kids - ship across the US, but online donations can be made from any location, to fund wishes for children around the world.
WHEN: Up until Christmas.

7-year-old Brett flies an F-16 Viper simulator, thanks to Make-A-Wish

7-year-old Brett flies an F-16 Viper simulator (Make-A-Wish America)

5. TOYS FOR TOTS

WHAT: Every year, the US Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program collects new, unwrapped toys and distributes them as holiday gifts to less fortunate children. The idea is that these gifts will make a difference by encouraging youngsters across the US to become productive, patriotic citizens - just by exposing them to the values of the armed forces. Monetary donations are also received, to help cover running costs and fill in any gaps.  
WHERE: Toys are collected in communities in which a Marine Corps Reserve Unit is located.
WHEN: October-December, every year.

Toys for Tots: Spreading Christmas cheer in the Marines

Spreading Christmas cheer in the Marines (Toys for Tots Facebook page)