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The Gift of Giving: How You Can Give Back This Holiday Season

As the holidays commence, we open our hearts and our wallets to the season of giving. What better way to embrace the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim, than to give back to our community? Listed below are some charities and activities you can get involved with in the spirit of giving.

You have probably heard of several programs during the holidays that are designed specifically for kids. Their goal is to bring the joy of Christmas to less fortunate children both nationally and worldwide. Operation Christmas Child is a project done by the Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization aiming to help people internationally with physical and spiritual needs. Through this program, helpful individuals fill shoe boxes with toys, school supplies, and personal care items. Whether or not you are religious, this is a fun opportunity to help children around the world and bring a little more magic to their holidays. You can pack a box on your own or participate with a local church or organization. To learn more about the program, how to pack your box, and what to put in it, visit their website. If you don’t feel like shopping for and packing your own box, or you are just short on time, build a box online or make a donation here!

The Salvation Army is another great organization with tons of locations and opportunities to support. Financial donations help food pantries, homeless shelters, and assist with rent or utility bills. The Salvation Army has also partnered with Walmart for the Angel Tree program, gifting over one million children nationwide each year. You can shop for a child from a Christmas tree tag or check out your local Walmart Angel Tree Registry. Anything you purchase can be dropped off at a Walmart Collection point or Salvation Army location.

Other programs assisting children include Toys for Tots from the Marine Corps which collects new unwrapped toys for the less fortunate. You can donate a toy at one of the many drop sites, or donate online here. Project Linus is an organization that provides new handmade blankets to children in need. You can create and donate a blanket, donate materials like yarn, fabric, and batting, or make a monetary donation online. An amazing local program, Micah’s Backpack, helps with food insecurity in schools in the New River Valley. You can donate food, plastic bags, or volunteer your time to help pack bags to send home with kids on the weekends.

With the inspirational programs listed above, I hope to motivate you to do Random Acts of Kindness or Pay it Forward. This might include complimenting people, writing letters and cards, spreading positive messages around your area, or paying for someone else in line. You may also consider giving baked goods to a shelter or donating to various drives in your area. Many locations look for food, school supplies and especially coats throughout the winter.

These are just a few of my personal favorite ways to volunteer your time and money this season. No matter what you are passionate about, there are tons of opportunities all year round that are just a Google search away. I hope to inspire you to go forth in the gift of giving!

By Katie Brintle

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