The end of the year is predominately the time of year when charities receive the bulk of their annual donations. Some people give now because it is the holidays  and they want to provide for the needy. Others want to get the last minute charitable tax deductions in before the end of the year . And still others simply donate now because the attention the media gives to charities this time of year is increased.
For me personally, I give throughout the year. I have a rule that if I purchase any piece of new clothing, I must get rid of another. This keeps me honest with myself – if I haven’t worn a shirt or pair of pants in the past year, odds are that I won’t be wearing it in the next year. As long as the item is in good condition, I donate it  to the local Goodwill store.
My parent’s usually have a yard sale every other year. Whatever doesn’t sell, as long it is in good condition and can be useful to someone else, we pack into the car and take it to the thrift store.
When I worked for my last employer, the company was involved in a Secret Santa event every year. We would sign up and be assigned a family that we had to buy gifts for. Most times the adults just want gift cards for groceries while the kids want toys. I tried to ‘toe the line’ and buy the kids a few toys, but also work some clothing into the mix as well. While it’s not as fun to open up a box on Christmas morning that has a sweater in it instead of the hottest video game (trust me I know!), it certainly helps the family out.
Since I’ve left that employer, I have started my own Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive  online. It’s basically one of the red kettle’s you see outside of stores this time of year, only it’s online. All proceeds go to the Salvation Army and it’s a nice way for me to help out.
As a society, America as a whole is a very generous one. Of the close to $300 billion that was donated to charities in 2011, over $200 billion was given by individuals, as opposed to corporations. This makes me feel good inside, knowing that even with the economy in tough shape, people are still willing to help out those in need.
I urge you to continue to donate to a charity this holiday season. If you haven’t given before, I urge you to start. You don’t have to donate money. You can donate clothing and other household items as I do throughout the year. Even better, you can donate your time by volunteering at shelters and homeless centers. The types of work you can do at these places are virtually endless and the organization will be more than thankful for the help you provide. Plus, you will feel great about helping others in the process. Trust me, the old adage that giving is better than receiving is true. You’ll know it too when see you the joy on the faces of those you help out.