Ways to Give Back this Holiday Season

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With gas prices going up and the economy getting worse, this holiday season is going to be tough for most families who are struggling financially. So why not give back to those who won’t get the chance to have a Thanksgiving turkey, or presents under the Christmas tree? Even if you have a hectic schedule, there are plenty of options of charities that you can choose from to make a difference this holiday season. Here are 5 different ways that you can give back this year:


1.                  Take a Quiz- Let’s face it. With school, work, internships, exams, and homework, it gets hard to try and find free time to have a social life, let alone volunteer to give back to  charity. Freerice.com is a website that is perfect for those who do not have any free time to go out and volunteer to give back. Freerice.com is a non-profit website that is owned by, and also supports, the United Nations World Food Programme. They have two objectives which are to “provide education to everyone for free” and “help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free.” All you have to do is go on the website and answer one of the vocabulary quiz questions. For every question you answer correctly, the World Food Programme will donate 10 grains of rice to those in need thanks to sponsors who support their cause. It only takes a few minutes of your day so go online and try it out! Not only do you still have time to get through school throughout the holidays, but you also make a difference. Check out the website at http://freerice.com/


2.                  Use an App- With all of the delicious food this holiday season, many people will be trying to hit the gym to make sure they don’t pack on the pounds. When you decide to hit the treadmill or go for a run around your neighborhood, use the Charity Miles app on your smartphone so your fitness success can help others in need. Charity Miles provides you with the opportunity to use walk, run, or bike our way to earn the support of corporate sponsors to raise money for the charity of your choice. For every mile you walk or run, you earn 25 cents, and for every mile you bike you earn 10 cents. This all contributes to the initial $1,000,000 sponsorship pool. The more miles you accomplish, the more sponsorships you can obtain for everyone. Not only will you be staying in shape, but you will also be changing someone’s life in a charity that you are passionate about. If you would like to learn more information visit http://www.charitymiles.org/.


3.                  Be a Mentor- If you are looking for a more interactive experience with a charity, then Infinite Family might be the organization for you. Their goal is to help motivate pre-teens and teens in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa who have limited resources or support networks. Infinite family provides two ways of getting involved; you can either become a video mentor or donate directly through the website. As a mentor, you tune in thirty minutes a week to talk by giving advice and support to inspire a child over a webcam. These children suffer daily from HIV/AIDS and poverty, so any support they can get from adults who care can affect their lives tremendously in a positive way. If you are interested you can visit http://www.infinitefamily.org/demo.html and apply; if you do not qualify then feel free to make a donation!

4.                  Volunteer- As people begin to get excited to see family and stuff their faces with turkey, some people will not be so fortunate. Those who are homeless, or are low income families will be lucky if they can afford to see their loved ones and even have a meal to eat on thanksgiving. The Union Station Foundation has sponsored the Thanksgiving-in-the-park event in Pasadena for over 30 years. This event is a buffet style Thanksgiving dinner for families who have low income, homeless citizens, and senior citizens who will be dining alone over the holidays. Supporters of the event donate all the main Thanksgiving dishes, from turkeys, to desserts and even side dishes. Hundreds of volunteers help each year to make this event possible, and an extra hand is always welcomed and needed. There are three different time slots for volunteers to help: set-up, serving food and beverages, and clean up. If you are interested visit http://www.unionstationhs.org/thanksgiving_in_the_park.html.


5.                  Participate in a Marathon- If you are looking for an experience of a lifetime, then a marathon is perfect for you. St. Paul High School is located in Santa Fe Springs hosts a 26 mile walk marathon called “The March for Hunger.” This walk begins in East Los Angeles and ends in Santa Monica. All the money goes to the soup kitchens for the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, and the people who march raise awareness to the poverty in the Los Angeles area. So what can you do? Once you find sponsors for the event, you can visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Jirus-March-For-Hunger-Presented-by-St-Paul-High-School/178038962772 to get more information. If you can, show up and march with the rest of the students. It is a great experience, you raise awareness of  poverty issues in our society, all while putting your body to the test.

This is the season of giving, so make sure you think of others this year as you go shopping for those you love. This economy is weighing down on all of us, and as college students we face the stresses of student loans and rising tuition, but don’t let that bring your holiday spirit down. Be grateful for every day you get the opportunity to get an education, have a place to go home to, and regular meals, because there are others who aren’t as fortunate as you. Happy Holidays!

Photo credit: http://lacatholicworker.org/2010/12/10/38th-annual-march-for-hunger