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With all of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we are so blinded by the Best Black Friday deals and everything pumpkin flavored that we seem to miss what's most important, the gift of giving. There are endless opportunities to bring your families together and feel the spirit by providing love and kindness to someone in need. Not everything has to be a donation of money or gifts, one of the greatest gifts you can give is your time! Here are a FEW opportunities in our community for you to help spread the holiday cheer:

-Contact your local elementary, junior high, and high schools! Most of them have wish lists, a list of kids in need, help wrapping presents, help delivering sub for Santa gifts, etc! For example, my mother works in SLC school district where 60% of her students are homeless. Each year we make tons of blankets to donate to the homeless shelter and give to students we know could use them. We also contact the school and get names, ages, and sizes for a few students who need a Sub for Santa!

-Your children can donate to other children and keep the holiday spirit; put out a big bag and tell the kids they have to choose ten old toys to fill up the bag. They have to be decent toys that other children would actually want. Leave the bag under the tree for Santa to take back to his workshop to fix up and replace with brand new toys! Your children get new toys and their nice old toys can be donated!

Utah Food Bank: There are countless opportunities at the Utah Food Bank, you can gather your friends and family to collect to donate food! You can also create a virtual food drive where you can invite friends, family, coworkers etc. to shop and donate online! If you would like to donate your time and serve those in need, apply here:

Donate Blood or Plasma and give the gift of life!:,,,

Help our furry friends! A lot of animal shelters, rescues, and non profits can always use blankets, food, toys, help bottle feeding kittens and puppies, and simply just your time to love on the animals as they wait for their furever home! There are tons of places to sign up to help animals in need, but here are a few options: ,,

Primary Children's: There is a LIST of ways to donate to primary children here:

I also chatted with a friend who used to work at Primary's and she said that blankets are a big deal! Providing a child going through treatment with a special blanket to hold onto instead of a hospital blanket can make a huge difference on their tough journey.

Intermountain Medical Center has also started a volunteer cuddle program for babies! The Intermountain Medical Center NICU is using a volunteer newborn cuddling program to help offset early trauma and potential developmental delays in their tiny patients. It’s aimed at soothing premature infants ranging from tiny preemies, to larger, full-term babies, as well as infants suffering from maternal drug-use withdrawal. The benefits for these babies are OUTSTANDING! Contact your nearest intermountain medical center to see how you can snuggle some sweet littles!

Angel Tree: Provide Christmas for a child who's parents are incarcerated. Give them the gift of Christmas when they otherwise couldn't receive it!

Operation Shoebox: Start by following the link! It will guide you to choose a shoebox, provide you with the age/gender of a child where then you will fill the box and send to a child in need!

Family Giving Tree (donate or volunteer!):

The Digital Christmas Tree: Create a digital Christmas tree at Share your tree anywhere on social media using the hashtag #shareatree. You can also share others trees for more hashtags! At the end fo the month, all of the hashtags are counted up and the Arbor Day Foundation will plant that many trees and for every 25K digital trees shared, Green is. Unicersal donates 5K to the Arbor Day Foundation!

A few other ideas:

Donate DVD's to hospitals and assisted living

Read/play music at a Local Nursing home

Donate blankets, clothes, shoes, etc. to local homeless shelters, the road home, the Womens shelter, and places that give those items directly to those in need.

Go on a "trash walk" and clean up your neighborhood! Send cards to hospitalized children. Shovel a neighbor's driveway.

Write thank you cards and/or make small treats for the people in our lives who seem to slip by unappreciated (for example, my friend and I are making cards and candy for the custodians at our gym, the coffee baristas we see every day, and our cashiers at the grocery store that help us out!)

You can buy packets of hot cocoa and cider, and disposable drinking cups at your local dollar store. Make hot cocoa and cider and hand it out to the homeless who have been in the cold all day.

Make on the go bags/care packages for the homeless: gloves, socks, bandaids, deodorant, chewable multivitamins, chapstick, lotion, sunscreen, tissues, toothbrush, toothpaste, wet wipes, beanie, etc!

If you took the time to even look at this list, you are more kind, loving, and appreciated than you know<3

Have a heart, lend a hand, stand out and MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

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