You probably don’t need anyone to tell you that being involved in philanthropic work can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but we’ll remind you anyway: It looks great on a résumé and college application, can lead to meaningful friendships and connections, may boost your self-confidence and can help improve the condition of your community or someone else’s. So if you haven’t given back in a while, or if you’re just looking for some new ways to give, take a look at this roundup of ideas for supporting the causes you hold near and dear this holiday season:
Pack Stockings for the Homeless
A wonderful way to give back as a group, packing stockings can offer a great way to get your school involved. You just need to purchase some cheap stockings and a bunch of fun and practical items to stuff in them. Put in granola bars, warm gloves, or anything else people may need; these stockings will spread holiday cheer around your community. When you walk around campus or drive somewhere, keep the stockings with you so that you can give them out to any homeless people you see along the way.
Donating clothes provides one of the easiest ways to give back during the holidays, especially for college students. You could set up a mini clothing drive in your dorm, or gather clothes from friends. You can either drop-off your donations or have them picked up by an organization like Purple Heart.
Volunteer at a Shelter
Volunteering is another great way to give back during the holidays. Whether you choose to spend your time at an animal shelter or at a homeless shelter, donating your time has just as much value as money. Meeting the people you serve one-on-one offers a gratifying experience you should try to have before you graduate.
Send Holiday Cards
Active-duty military and veterans sacrificed a lot for our country, and sending festive holiday cards shows a small token of appreciation. They’re a thoughtful and genuine way to give back that doesn’t break your college student budget. Write some cards and send them through your local American Red Cross chapter that participates in the Holiday for Heroes program.
Bake Cookies and Bring Them to a Local Fire/Police Station
If your dorm has a kitchen or you live in a house, think about baking some cookies and delivering them to your local fire or police station. Every day—even during the holidays—men and women in fire and police departments put their lives on the line. Show them some appreciation and kindness this year—their genuine smiles will make it worth it!
Giving blood, no matter the time of year, allows you to give back to your community in more impactful way. During the holidays, what’s better than saving someone’s life? Schedule an appointment with the American Red Cross, or talk to someone on campus about setting up a blood drive before winter break!
Visit a Nursing Home
Bring some joy and love to a local nursing home. Whether you grace them with your presence or bring some gifts along with you, they’ll love getting to sit and talk with you. Better yet, continue to come in even after the holidays and build a rapport with some of the residents.
Donate gently used toys to children in need
Many holiday toy drives request new toys only, but the Salvation Army will take gently used toys. If you have toys collecting dust at home, give them a second home and make a child happy. Here are some guidelines on what they’ll accept.
Give someone a big hug (wearing a mask)
Remember that you can never know a person’s entire story, so be kind. Share a smile, a hug, a kind word. It could make all the difference.
Say “Thank you”
Tell someone who has made a difference in your life what they mean to you. A parent, sibling, friend, professor — it will make their day, and yours, too.