Photo: Kiddie Academy

This year has been difficult for a number of reasons. Many of us have endured innumerable hardships, and now what is typically a joyous holiday season filled with family and friends will likely be spent socially distanced to keep one another safe.

Even though holidays will undoubtedly be different this year, research shows giving back makes us happier. With so many people in need this year—and many of us in need of some extra holiday cheer—there’s no better time to get involved with a charitable cause or two.

At Kiddie Academy, giving back is at the core of our brand. Our corporate social responsibility philosophy, or what we call Community EssentialsSM, extends everything we teach and nurture through our curriculum beyond the classroom walls, creating positive connections throughout our communities.

I asked our Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, Maria Dontas, for her ideas on how you and your family can help support your community this holiday season.

The best part is that many of these efforts can be done completely remotely, while others may require extra precautions to maintain social distance and maintain your health. The most important thing is to know and understand your family’s limitations and what you’re comfortable with before exploring the below options. Always pick what makes the most sense for you and your circumstances!

1. Host a canned food collection in support of your local food pantry, community food bank, or family services organization.
2. Prepare or serve meals at a food pantry or soup kitchen. Many of the local meal providers are struggling to meet the increased demand since the onset of the pandemic.
3. Host a letter writing party to send messages of goodwill, positivity, and hope to essential workers, the elderly, and our troops!
4. Sponsor or adopt a family for an upcoming holiday. Find a local organization working to secure holiday gifts and meals for families in need.
5. Host a virtual donation drive in support of a local nonprofit close to your heart. Set a monetary goal and invite family, friends, and others in the community to make contributions and share across social media.
6. Donate gifts to children in need through a local toy drive. This month, Kiddie Academy locations across the country are participating in toy drives benefitting Toys for Tots and other local organizations! Reach out to your local Academy to see if they are accepting toy donations.
7. Go through your belongings and donate clothing and household items that are gently used and/or in good working order to organizations like Goodwill
8. Share your skills or knowledge with a nonprofit and make a difference by lending your expertise. Anything from resume writing to computer skills or legal advice can help make a positive impact on a nonprofit with limited resources. Sometimes giving time and knowledge is just as good, if not better than a financial contribution.
9. Help animals in need by donating used blankets and towels to a local animal shelter, baking homemade doggie treats or volunteering your time to help clean facilities.
10. Help with food insecurity in your community by volunteering at a food distribution organization or by delivering meals to the elderly through nonprofits like Meals on Wheels. You can also help keep important food security programs in place by writing letters or calling your lawmakers encouraging them to pass policies that prioritize access to healthy foods for families.
11. Participate in random acts of kindness or show your gratitude by doing good deeds around your community. For example, buy breakfast for a nursing unit at your local hospital or drop off coffee and treats for your volunteer fire department.
12. Participate in a virtual performance for a nursing home or senior living community. Reach out to the activities coordinator at a nearby senior center and see how you can use your talents to entertain community members.
13. Maximize your purchasing power by supporting brands and businesses that give back to charitable causes. Companies like Toms, Patagonia, and AmazonSmile, to name a few, all give back with each purchase.
14. Donate blood or join the national bone marrow registry to help make a life changing impact for a person in need. Our Kiddie Academy corporate office and Academy recently helped facilitate a drive that resulted in over 75 new registrations to the national bone marrow registry.

Most importantly, don’t forget to give yourself and your community members the gift of wellness this holiday season. Be sure to:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.
  • Wear a face mask over your mouth and nose to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses such as colds and the flu.
  • Eat healthy, immune-boosting foods.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay active to help manage stress, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation in the body.
  • Focus on your mental health by making time to destress.
This post originally appeared on Kiddie Academy Family Essentials.