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6 Ways You Can Give Back to the Community During the Holiday Season


Holidays are a season of joy, friendship, family, and love. It’s when we get the chance to reflect on what we have and be grateful for all of our opportunities and lives in general. In doing so, it is important to take a moment to give back to your community and support those who need it the most during this time of abundance. Here are a couple of ideas we at HerCampus Hofstra have curated to encourage you to get out there and become an active and supportive community member during the holidays. 


Donate Food (or Time) to Your Local Food Bank

Many towns have an area in their town hall or other designated location that houses a food pantry. People who may not be able to provide fully for their families are able to come here and take food for their holiday meals. Since food banks receive major traffic during this time of year, they are desperate for people to make donations of canned and fresh goods in addition to toiletries and other household essentials as the holidays get closer.  Many towns now are also collaborating to create mobile food banks that park and distribute food for several hours in a public location. These events, which can be more widely accessible to many in need, usually require lots of kind and cheerful volunteers to help. Check with your local food bank to find out what is most needed in your area and ways you can donate your time. 


Do a  “Second Spring Cleaning”

As we change over our wardrobe from fall to winter, we definitely come across clothes, accessories, home goods and more that don’t fit us anymore in size or personal style. Take some time to do a “Second Spring Cleaning” in the winter to determine what you want to bring into the new year. Whatever doesn’t make your cut but are still usable and wearable can be brought down to your local Goodwill or another donation center. Just because it no longer sparks joy in your life doesn’t mean it won’t be the perfect (and affordable) holiday gift for someone else. 


Seek Out School and Business Toy/Clothing Drives

Lots of schools and companies take December as an opportunity to initiate programs that do lots of social good. If you don’t have a job that is participating in something like this or have siblings still in school, go the extra mile to ask your friends and family if they know of any drives.  Maybe your aunt’s office is buying presents for kids or your neighbor’s daughter is doing a coat drive at school. Making that extra effort to support will always be welcomed and appreciated.

Give the Gift of a Donation to a Local Cause 

Sometimes, it can feel really challenging to buy the perfect gift for someone who seems to have it all. A great solution is to make a donation to a local non-profit or cause in that person’s name. It can be in support of something you or your friend feel strongly about that you know will benefit your local community. Knowing that your gift will bring good to your community will be worth more than any material thing you could have bought. 


Volunteer at Community Centers or Elderly Homes

Not everything you do needs to require you to spend your cash or give your things away. Many community centers host programs during the holidays that are free for locals and need volunteers to make it all happen. Additionally, many elderly and assisted living facilities to seek out people to spend time with their residents during the holidays. Lots of times, people in these living situations may be spending the holidays far from their families and feel as if they are missing out on the traditions they have experienced for their whole lives. These homes and complexes often hold social events in order to foster that community and holiday spirit and would love to have younger people there to engage and celebrate with the residents. Calling or visiting these places while home for the holidays will bring immense joy and warmth to members of the community who will appreciate it most. 


Eat Out Locally and Tip Generously

Winter break is the time for brunch or dinner to catch up with your back-home besties. Instead of hitting up a chain restaurant, consider spending your time and money at a family-owned spot in your town. These smaller establishments really benefit from the business during this time and often do something themselves to give back to the community. When going here, make sure to tip a little more than you would normally if you are able. The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, so leaving a few extra bucks for a hardworking waiter/waitress will definitely go a long way.

We hope that these suggestions have sparked your desire to get out there and make a difference in your community. Make a commitment with your friends and family to do some of these things together as a way to become closer during the holidays. Doing something to positively impact someone’s time during this season is something you will remember long after the bows and lights have come down.


Maddy Oldham

Hofstra '21

Maddy Oldham is a junior with a double major in Drama and Early Childhood/Childhood Education. She is passionate about iced coffee, thrifting, music, and making people smile.
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