The holidays are all about giving back. But for many folks, the thought of carving large chunks of time out of our busy schedules to volunteer may seem a bit overwhelming, if not impossible. Don't let a lack of time or resources detract you from "doing good." There are many simple, yet effective things you can do online from the comfort of your couch that can have a lasting impact in your community.
If you find yourself in this time crunch scenario this holiday season, consider one of these five online twists to traditional offline giving.
Share Warmth with the Elderly - Visiting shut-in residents at the nursing home seem all too reminiscent of the holidays. It's a wonderful act of kindness that brightens up the hearts of many lonely individuals. If you can't make it to visit our senior friends, don't fret. Consider sending the gift of warmth by purchasing socks online and sending them to seniors who might otherwise go without. Socks for Seniors and Operation Warm Feet collect and distribute socks all around the country.
Ring the Bell - If you've been to the grocery store this past week, you know that the Salvation Army bell ringers are out in full force. The Salvation Army Red Kettles have been an American tradition since 1891, helping raise financial support for critical programs and services year round. Now everyone can be a bell ringer by hosting your own Red Kettle - online.
Salute a Soldier - Remember writing those Holiday cards and stuffing care packages for soldiers when you were in grade school? It's a simple act that never goes out of style. Now you can send a warrior a thank you note or holiday greeting using Facebook. Visit the Wounded Warrior Project's Facebook page, select the card you like and type your message. It's an easy way to thank them for their service and sacrifice.
Create a Snoball - If you don't have an afternoon to shovel the snow from a stranger's walkway, perhaps consider creating your own 'Snoball'. Through Snoball.com, you can create momentum around (and set the parameters for) donations benefiting your favorite charities. For example, a Snoball may be defined as: "Every time the Dallas Cowboys win, I will pledge $1 to the American Red Cross," or "When I check-in at my favorite coffee shop using Foursquare, I will pledge $2 to the local area food bank." The specific event, donation amount and time interval are defined by you.
Host a Winter Garage Sale - The holidays might not be the warmest time of year to host a garage sale, but you do seem to collect a lot of stuff. Consider rummaging through your house on a cold afternoon and hosting an online garage sale with eBay. Sell your unwanted items and donate 10-100% of the final sale price to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. You'll get a tax deduction and a credit on your basic eBay selling fees, and will be able to share the joy of the holidays with kids around the country.