Free Ways to Give Back this Thanksgiving

Posted by Jolie Peters
(@Jolie Peters)

There’s often a connotation that helping others and giving back to your community requires spending money. But what if you don’t have money to spend? With the gift-giving season quickly approaching, you’re probably budgeting for everyone on your list. Don’t let that deter you from doing something kind for others this Thanksgiving. The best way to show how thankful you are for everything in your life is by doing something for someone else. Here are some free ways to pay it forward this holiday season.

Invite a Straggler to Dinner

It’s important to remember that for many people, the holiday season can be the loneliest and most depressing time of year. There are many people who spend Thanksgiving alone because their family members are deceased, or they moved to a new city and can’t afford to go home. Why not make their holiday a bit brighter by inviting them to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast. No one likes to go stag, especially around the holidays.

Get Rid of Last Year’s Winter Clothes

Maybe you put on a little extra weight from all that stuffing, or maybe you’re ready to update your look. Whatever the reason may be, clean out your closet for a cause this Thanksgiving and get rid of all the winter clothes you no longer need. Then, instead of donating to a local thrift shop that will charge money, find a family in need that you can personally deliver the clothes to yourself.

Volunteer Your Time

Volunteers working in soup kitchen

There are plenty of places that need some extra hands this holiday. If you have a day off, why not spend your time somewhere that really needs the help like a soup kitchen, or meals on wheels.

Thank a Solider

Because soldiers serve and protect our country, we are able to safely enjoy a feast with our families on Thanksgiving. But that means they are unable to spend time with their loved ones – the ultimate sacrifice. Show your appreciation by sending a letter to someone serving in the military, and thank them for the sacrifices they’ve made so that you can have it all.

Host a Refugee or Fire Surviver

Through Airbnb’s Open Homes Project, you can offer temporary housing to people that truly need it. From refugees, to those that lost their homes in the California fires, there are plenty of people who are seeking refuge this holiday. Why not be the person to provide it for them.

Join a Turkey Trot

All across the U.S. towns host Turkey Trots where you can run a short marathon and dedicate the proceeds towards a specific charity. This will take some additional time to plan as you’ll need to raise funds from your friends and and family first. However, if you’re able to scrounge up some donors quickly, this is one of the healthiest ways to give back this time of year.

Take a Trip to the Hospital

Spending the holidays in a hospital is unimaginably bleak. Brighten up an ill child’s day by making rounds at a local hospital. You can bring toys, DVDs, music – whatever you can think of to turn that sick frown upside down.

Spread the Word About Important Issues

Our nation has become so heavily divided, and that division can be particularly palpable around the holidays. Your awkward family feast may seem like a microcosm of the animosity our country currently faces. Pay it forward with a handful of knowledge by sharing some of our favorite tracks about climate change, feminism, refugee rights, diversity and more. You may enlighten someone about these heavy issues, and nothing is better than the gift of education.