Giving Back During the Holidays

YMCA Holidays

The holiday season is in full swing with travel plans being made, dinners being planned, and lot of shopping being done. Holidays are often a time to think about keeping family traditions alive and creating new traditions as your family grows. Often, these traditions include doing something to give back to others. Making the holidays better for someone else can be as simple as smiling at people as you walk by, or as complex as organizing a food drive, toy drive, or feeding the homeless. Giving back is a way to teach graciousness, compassion and instill thoughtfulness for your community and the people in it. From small acts of kindness, to volunteering for a non-profit raising money in our community, no deed is too small to have a large impact on others. 

Be Kind

The simple act of being kind to others can go a long way. Kindness costs you nothing, but the positive impact is exponential. Being kind to others can be shown when you hold the door for someone, make eye contact and smile as you pass someone, or compliment a stranger. 

Acts of Kindness

Acts of kindness take being kind one step further. Acts of kindness may cost a little or require more energy, but a small act of kindness can go a long way to making a big difference in someone’s day, week, or even life. Acts of kindness can include buying coffee for the person behind you in line, bringing in a surprise treat for someone at work, or to the police or fire department, writing a card to tell someone you are thinking about them, or delivering a care package to a teacher. 

Donating Unused or New Treasures

Let this time of year be a time for you to clean out your closets and donate gently used toys or clothes. Something that is collecting dust in your basement can easily become a treasured item this holiday season. You can go one step further by purchasing and donating new items as well. Many organizations have “Giving Trees” for you to choose a family in need and shop with specific individuals in mind, or you can purchase a toy for Toys for Tots, or buy toiletries and socks to donate to a women’s or homeless shelter. 

Harbor House is the singular agency in Outagamie and Calumet Counties committed to the awareness and prevention of domestic abuse.

Pillars provides shelter, support, and solutions to address the housing needs in our community.

Donate Your Time

We all live busy lives, and the holidays seem to fill up our time even more. Despite our busy schedules there is no greater feeling than connecting with others when you donate your time to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Ring the bell for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign, sign up to deliver toys to families in need, make a meal for a family or volunteer at a soup kitchen. When it comes to donating your time there are endless possibilities in every community, and organizations welcome those willing to help with open arms. 

Volunteer: Most of the YMCA of the Fox Cities programs rely on the assistance of volunteers to develop skills through modified, age-appropriate activities. If you are interested in volunteering, contact your local YMCA.

Some examples of volunteer opportunities at our local YMCAs include:

  • Youth Sports
  • Child Care
  • Laundry and towel folding
  • Special Events
  • Fundraising
  • Governance

Togetherhood: Togetherhood is a program that gives Y members the opportunity to select, plan, lead and participate in meaningful community service projects that benefit people and organizations right here in our neighborhood!

Y-Service Club: Y-Service Club members volunteer their time and talents for Y events and programs as well as community events.

Remember the People you Love

Giving back is not only about helping a stranger. Giving back starts at home. Spend time with the people you love. Ask them questions and be genuinely interested in the things going on in their lives. Reach out to a family member that lives far away and have a genuine conversation to stay connected. Showing your family that you love and appreciate them can have a great effect on who they are, and what they do for others during the holiday season. 

So, challenge yourself, and your family members to start a new tradition of giving back this season, and watch as celebrating the holidays makes you, and the people around you, feel better and enjoy this time of year even more. 

About the Author: Jensen Hinton serves as an intern at the Neenah-Menasha YMCA. He currently attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh studying Human Services Leadership. To learn about how you can volunteer with the YMCA of the Fox Cities and help make a difference in your community, visit 

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