7 Easy Ways to Give Back This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming, and though we should keep helping others in mind all year, the holidays are a special reminder to take care of our community. Here are seven easy ways to give back this Thanksgiving. (See also: Make the World Better With These 17 Free Ways to Give Back)

1. Buy a pre-packed bag at your local grocery store

While you're in your grocery store, you'll likely find pre-packed bags of food that the grocery store will deliver to people in need. Just say you want to add it to your grocery bill, pay for it with your groceries, and the store takes care of the rest! To find out if your grocery store offers this program, just stop by the customer service desk on your next trip.

2. Contact your local food bank

Your local food bank is one of the major sources of food for those in need throughout the year. They often have special holiday donation drives, and they are usually able to find a major donor or corporate sponsor that will match any donations during this time of year. Reach out to your local food bank and ask about any special holiday programs they are running.

Remember, your monetary donation will go a lot further than bringing food to your local food bank because the food bank buys exactly what they need at wholesale prices that are cheaper than what we pay at the grocery store. Also, if you have a little extra time, offer to volunteer for a shift at your local food bank. They always need help during the holidays. This is a great activity to do solo, with a group of friends or coworkers, or with kids. (See also: 8 Charities You Can Trust With Your Holiday Donations)

3. Ask your employer about special holiday programs

Many employers go the extra mile during the holidays. Get in touch with your corporate philanthropy or human resources department to ask about any special holiday programs to give back to the community. Many workplaces match the donations of their employees, provide a certain amount of hours that employees can take off to volunteer throughout the year, and organize team bonding activities that involve local volunteering.

4. Find Amazon wish lists

Many nonprofits have started setting up Amazon wish lists. Last year, I bought needed items from the Amazon wishlist of a homeless shelter in my city. I paid for the items that they needed, Amazon shipped the items directly to the shelter, and then the shelter sent me an acknowledgment letter a few weeks later. It's as easy as that! Contact a nonprofit you love and find out if they have an Amazon wishlist. And if they don't, encourage them to create one! You can also search for a nonprofit's existing Amazon wishlist right on Amazon's site.

5. Be a layaway Santa

Layaway is still a service widely used by people who are on limited incomes and have thin credit files. Next time you're at a store, ask if they have a layaway service, go to the customer service desk, and anonymously put money toward someone's layaway items. Then encourage your friends and family to be layaway Santas, too.

6. Go the extra mile right where you are

Going out to eat, getting your haircut, or ordering food delivery? Add a bigger tip beyond what you normally give. People in the service industry work hard all year, especially during the holidays, and anything extra that you give for great service is always appreciated.

7. Be kinder

We can all use some extra encouragement. Anonymously leave a note with an inspirational quote or compliment on someone's windshield or doorstep in your neighborhood. You may never know how much it means to someone. And just be friendlier in everyday life. Smile, say good morning, hold doors open, or offer to carry someone's heavy bags while holiday shopping. A little kindness goes a long way and it's so easy to offer!

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7 Easy Ways to Give Back This Thanksgiving

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