We recently learned about #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that is celebrated every year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. This special day encourages everyone to give - whether it’s some of your time, a donation, a gift or the power of your voice in your community.
One of my favorite holiday / giving back traditions is buying presents for an angel tree. An angel tree is a Christmas tree, where the ornaments are little scraps of paper that include the name of a child in your community, their age, things they need (like clothes, socks and a coat), and things they want for Christmas. All of these children are usually in need and most likely will not be getting a “Christmas” that year. You then go out and buy everything on their list and drop it back off at your angel tree location. When I was kid, this was how I was able to have presents under my tree every year, and it feels really good to give back. -- Shaq
There’s absolutely nothing I love more in life than being able to help others, especially around the holidays. My absolute favorite thing to do during the holiday season is to go to Walmart or Kmart to pay off layaway orders for unsuspecting families (who have been steadily making payments for kid stuff). On Christmas Day this year, my brother and I are going to create gift bags (with warm blankets, mittens, hats, snacks and hand warmers) and hand them out to the homeless in New York City. At Cutline, we’ve planned an entire week that includes so many awesome ways to give back and make an impact but I can’t share the details because…. it’s a surprise! Honestly, I think everyone could give back in small ways to make the world a better place… smile more, hold doors open, buy a stranger a cup of coffee, volunteer. The options to do good things are truly endless and the feeling you get when you bring a smile to someone’s face (whether you see it or not) is truly priceless. -- Erin
One of my favorite organizations to support is Meals on Wheels, which provides home-delivered meals to homebound seniors. Meals can be warm, refrigerated or frozen, and MOW works hard to make sure they’re nutritious. Volunteers deliver the meals, and for many seniors it can be one of their only interactions during the day. I love their mission and greatly admire their volunteers. -- Esther
One of the things that I am most thankful for every year is my education, and for that reason I love supporting Room to Read, a non-profit focused on girls' education and children's literacy in Asia and Africa. It is rewarding to know that by getting involved with this organization you can help send a girl to school, or build a library or classroom. A quote I heard when I first got involved with Room to Read is, “When you educate a woman, you educate a generation,” and that has touched me deeply. I’ve been involved with them for 10 years, and the work they continue to do is so incredible that I’m inspired to want to do more. -- Darah
Philanthropy is something I hold very close to my heart, and I volunteer with various organizations throughout the year. During the holidays, I love serving hot meals to families in need at the local soup kitchen. Another organization that I love is The Arc of San Francisco, which helps adults with developmental disabilities acquire new skills to help them lead more fulfilling lives and have the same opportunities for education, socialization, jobs and independence as everyone else. I’m also very passionate about volunteering at nursing homes throughout the year. I know first-hand that the decision to put a family member in a nursing home is never easy, but many times, families do not have the resources to provide around-the-clock care to their loved ones. I often visit the local nursing homes to spend time with the residents, coordinate activities, listen to their stories and take them out for some fresh air. The satisfaction you get from putting smiles on their faces when their families aren’t available is indescribable. -- Mishri
In college, I worked with my student organization every year to donate gift boxes full of school supplies and other goodies for children in need through Operation Christmas Child. This initiative, organized by Samaritan’s Purse, distributes millions of shoebox gifts to children around the world, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford gifts or even simple school supplies. After moving to New York, I started volunteering at my church as a babysitter and Sunday school teacher -- although it can be challenging to work with kids, they are so much fun (and full of sass!) and teach me invaluable lessons on how to be patient and graceful. Also, there’s nothing like receiving a big hug from your students after class! -- Hyeri
Like many of my colleagues, I’m passionate about learning and believe everyone deserves access to quality education. Pencils of Promise is an amazing organization committed to helping bring education to all. To date, they’ve built nearly 400 schools and served nearly 40,000 students in developing countries, increasing literacy rates along the way. I’ve supported PoP for nearly a decade and look forward to supporting it for many more decades to come. I also can’t talk about learning or giving back without promoting what my truly incredible aunt and uncle are doing at Minglewood Farm and Nature Preserve in North Carolina. If you’ve seen Before the Flood Leonardo Dicaprio’s film with National Geographic on climate change, you know that it’s crucial to help bring awareness to our rapidly disappearing farmlands and forests; as well as to change (or at least rethink) how and what we consume. Minglewood’s mission is to be a resource for outdoor learning, and to educate students of all ages and the surrounding communities about sustainable food production and proper environmental stewardship. I’m so proud of the progress they’ve made to-date, but even more proud of everything Minglewood stands for. -- Rachel