tis the season to give

The holiday season is a time that inspires many people to reach out to those in need.

Finding a cause you care about is the most important part of giving! Start by thinking about causes that matter to you on a personal level.

If you are making a monetary donation, ask yourself:
Does the charity match your passion?
Is the charity financially responsible and ethical?
Does the charity have strong leadership?
Do you trust it enough to give, without strings attached?

Here are some ideas for charitable activities that can bring joy to your family this year:

Instead of a tie for dad, or earrings for mom, make a financial donation in their honor. A gift in honor of a loved one, shows that you care, while helping make a difference for a worthy cause.

Send holiday cards to active-duty military and veterans. Members of the military sacrifice for our country every day. Sending holiday cards, is a way that we can show appreciation.

Volunteer at a shelter. If you don't have cash to spare for donations, you can donate your time!

Gather a group of friends or family members to sponsor a family for the holiday. Local religious and charitable organizations may have information from families who need sponsorship, including their clothing sizes and holiday wish lists.

Have your children pick out affordable toys to donate to Toys for Tots.
Toys for Tots is a program created by the U.S. Marines that collects and distributes new, unwrapped toys to families who can't afford gifts. Donating to Toys for Tots is an act of giving that young children can have fun getting involved in. You can ask them to help you choose one or two inexpensive toys that they think another kid will enjoy.

Whether you decide to donate your time, money or belongings, turning your family's focus from exchanging gifts to giving back can help you cut down on excess spending. If money is tight this year, knowing that you're giving the gift of joy to others through service can be just as fulfilling.