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Gift giving becomes a national preoccupation each holiday season. Amid that clamor, it's easy to forget that the kindness of a stranger is one of the greatest gifts we can give or receive. Here are just a few of the many ways you can give that gift by volunteering your time.
As Wisconsinites, we're no strangers to the frantic grocery store dashes that precede a major snow forecast. But stocking up on bread and milk requires having a car to get there in the first place. Before you throw on your warmest winter coat and make your next run, consider whether you know someone who can't reach the grocery store because of age, disability or financial hardship. Even if the expected 10 inches blows over, they'll appreciate the extra essentials in their refrigerator.
Since 1947, this organization run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve has collected new toys and delivered them to parents who would otherwise be unable to provide their children with presents. The volunteer work for this particular act of kindness requires nothing more than purchasing a toy and dropping it off at your local Toys for Tots drop off center. You don't even need to wrap it. Just pull on your waterproof winter boots, slush across the parking lot and drop it off at the designated location.
Volunteer work at your local food bank will be appreciated any time of the year, but the holiday season often requires extra aid as food banks work to connect families in need with holiday meals. Whether you're helping to raise funds or deliver meals yourself, your time can mean the difference between a family going hungry or sharing one of the holiday's most cherished traditions. Hint: throw on a pair of long underwear to help regulate your temperature as you dash from the cold to their warm homes.
There's a lot to like about snow days. But if age or a physical disability prevents someone from shoveling out their driveway or vehicle, a blanket of snow can feel like a trap. All that's required for you to help them out of it is a shovel, a warm winter coat, a good pair of gloves, and a little elbow grease.
The need for clothing is never felt so keenly as during the winter months. Find out if there is a charity near you that is working to provide people in need with warm winter clothing. Whether it's by donating your old clothing, purchasing new warm winter jackets and hats to be handed out or assisting in collection drives and delivery you can bring a touch of literal warmth to someone's holiday season.