GIFT GIVING THAT COUNTS: 5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR COMMUNITY, SQUAD AND SELF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

When in the throes of holiday madness, it’s easy to loose sight of why we give gifts and who we should give them to (hint: it starts with your community and, yes, includes yourself). Here are some one-size-fits-all gifts for you to give to yourself, those you love, and those who need it most:

Gift for your community: One in seven American households struggled with food security issues in 2010. That means that someone in your own town or city is very likely going hungry. If you’re wanting to make a big difference this holiday season, you may want to think about the different ways you can feed people, like volunteering at a soup kitchen. See our list of ideas that you can use this holiday season and throughout 2012.

Gift for people you’ve never met. Through Heifer International, you can directly support a family in need by purchasing part or all of an animal. For example, for $20, you can buy a flock of geese for a family or for $30, you can buy honeybees. And if you want to contribute on a bigger scale, you pitch in $10 to help pay for a pig, or $120 for the whole thing. Whatever your budget, your contribution can make a direct difference in the life of someone in need. Read more about their amazing program here.

Gift for the environment: There are lots of ways to give Mother Nature a gift this season, such as choosing gifts without a lot of packaging. Think about gift cards, movie tickets, or making some yummy homemade baked treats. For more ideas about having a greener holiday, see our list.

Gift for your friends and family: Make a pledge with your friends and parents to stay safe on the road. This means no texting and driving — and also, no impaired driving.  Last December, 415 people died in drunk driving crashes just in the second half of the month. Wondering how to get involved in stopping more tragedies on the road? The folks at DoSomething.org have several suggestions for how you can help prevent impaired driving in your community: For example, you could start a designated driver program, host a drug-free activity, like a snowboarding trip — or for you creative types, you could organize a poetry slam to raise awareness.

Gift for yourself: As you make your New Year’s resolutions for 2016, you may be thinking about volunteering more, or taking more time to relax. That’s great! Whatever you’re putting on your personal list, make sure you make a plan for how you are going to stick to your goal. Click here to find out about the most commonly broken resolutions (and how you can make sure you don’t quit yours too soon).

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