When your family members start to get locked into the materialistic side of the season, ask them to consider the needs of those less fortunate by giving a gift that won’t cost a dime: their time and energy.
Volunteerism is a holiday tradition every family should start and preserve, says Brian Broadbent, president and CEO of Business Volunteers Unlimited, which matches prospective Greater Cleveland volunteers with area nonprofit organizations that could use the help.
Thousands of volunteering possibilities are listed online at BVU’s Volunteer Center all year (businessvolunteers.org), “but we load up on opportunities around the holidays,” says Broadbent. Here are several of his suggestions for ways you can give back this time of year:
>> Giving Year: Make a New Year’s resolution as a family to volunteer together once a month in 2009.
Adopt a family through Littlest Heroes, the Salvation Army or other organizations to supply Christmas gifts, winter clothing or other needed items. Or you can step up to help wrap and deliver gifts.
Volunteer to prepare, serve or clean up after a holiday meal at the City Mission, Cleveland Foodbank or other local church or hunger center.
Take your family to a local nursing home, hospital or senior center to carol, help with arts and crafts or decorate for the holidays. Deliver Meals on Wheels in your local community.
Distribute winter clothing and personal care items to the homeless by way of the City Mission or Building Hope in the City.
Volunteer with the Salvation Army to man a red bucket instead of just dropping in a few coins.
Write letters or send holiday care packages to service members overseas through the USO.