Start a charity box. Take one of those empty christmas gift boxes and instead of tossing it to the curb (or, hopefully, recycling) put it under your kitchen table. Now, what to do with it?
-- You're out at Walmart and see a sale on packaged underwear and socks? Buy a extra package or two and toss it into your box. Knit gloves/magic stretchy gloves are 0.50 cents? Grab a few pair and toss them in as well.
-- You're at the bulk store and buy a multipack of toiletries. Break the pack apart and toss one of the extras into the box.
-- Anytime you are shopping and the store has a row of sample/travel sizes buy small versions of toothpaste, antiperspirant, shampoo, powder, soap, etc. and toss them into the box.
-- Does your dentist still give out free toothbrushes, floss, and toothpaste? Put them into the box.
-- Have travel plans for the new year? Instead of tossing out the sample size products from your hotel when you get home, toss them into the box.
Once a quarter donate the contents of your box to a local women's shelter, homeless shelter, or other charitable organization that suits your nature.
Start your holiday crafts. You've seen my posts before. Can you make one scarf a month starting in January and have 11 to donate by the time next Christmas rolls around? Here are some links to various knit/crochet organizations.
-- Lion Brand Yarns Charitable Connection. Just enter your city or state and let the charity registry doing the searching for you.
-- The Humble Stitch
-- Scarves with a Purpose
-- Knit Your Bit Campaign - scarves for veterans
After Christmas Sales are a great source of ridicuously discounted ornaments, toys, and many other items you can donate to local children's hospitals, next year's Toys for Tots programs, or service organizations geared toward families in your local area.
Like to bake? Contact nursing homes in your area. See who will accept home-baked goods and gather your friends and family together once a month in the new year. Bake your favorites and donate them to the elderly. Be sure to include sugar-free options for those with diabetes.
Support the troops Contact your local servicemen and women's organizations and see what drives are active in your area. Care packages, letters, and other items are sent out no matter what time of year.
Your time is truly one of the most precious commodities you have. Find an organization that suits your personality and commit to one day a month of charitable service.
Best of all, enjoy the feeling of connecting with those around you.
These are just some of the ways my friends and family keep the spirit throughout the year. What are some of your family's favorite ways?