Ways to give back this holiday season


(Photo: Alex Kirkpatrick, Digital Editor/The Simpsonian)

by Ashley Dalsing, Special to The Simpsonian

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Ahh, yes. The holiday season is among us, aren’t you excited?

It’s the time of year when the weather starts to get colder and hearts get warmer due to the amount of love and celebration that occurs during the November and December months.

Whatever you may celebrate, it’s important to remember what our elders always taught us growing up – it’s better to give than receive.

What better way to give back than to donate your time to others?

It’s a sure way to make you feel as if you made a difference in someone’s life, and it will light up the world of someone who is in dire need of help.

Here are a few ways you can get involved this holiday season:

Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House:

The Ronald McDonald House has been around since 1974 providing a home-away-from-home for families who have critically ill children in area hospitals. There are a variety of ways you can get involved with the Ronald McDonald House.

You can sign up to provide a home-cooked meal to residents or you can help with cleaning, holiday decorations, fundraisers and special events, and even bring in items from their Wish List by collecting items at your school, business or church.

View more opportunities here: https://rmhdesmoines.org/help/volunteer/general-help/

Donate blood at LifeServe:

Donating blood is a huge way to help out someone in need this holiday. There are several individuals out there seeking the blood of a donor – that donor being you.

To this day, LifeServe collects approximately 156,000 units of blood a year to provide to hospitals in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Take a bit of time out of your day to save the lives of others. What better way to give back than to provide someone with a holiday miracle? You can be the difference.

Schedule your donation here: http://www.lifeservebloodcenter.org/donate/

Donate, volunteer or adopt at the Animal Rescue League:

Who doesn’t love animals? They bring so much happiness and love to the lives of others. Even though they have four legs, it doesn’t mean they aren’t in need.

You can change the lives of animals and the Des Moines Animal Rescue League by volunteering your time by dog walking, becoming an adoption counselor, assistant dog trainer or shelter dog behavior assistant.

If you’re one of those people who might cry because you want to take all of the animals home with you, don’t fear. You can still get involved by donating. Bring dog food, toys or blankets to your local shelter. They are always in need of supplies. Even though you won’t be working directly with the dogs, you can rest easy knowing you’re providing care to the shelter and the animals.

Lastly, if there is someone who has a particular animal on their wish list, look no further than your local Animal Rescue League to adopt. Always, always adopt.

Find more information here: http://www.arl-iowa.org/get-involved/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities.aspx

Donate clothes, coats, shoes and books to Salvation Army or Goodwill:

Looking to clean out your closet? Gather clothes, coats and books to donate to the Salvation Army or Goodwill.

This is a great way to provide to those who don’t have a warm set of clothes or newer shoes during the colder months.

You will be lifting the spirits of a struggling family during the holiday season. This will be a way to give and provide for their families. Even though it’s used, they will be thankful for anything they can get.

It’s as simple as cleaning out your closet and bookshelves and heading to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Although there are several different ways you can give back during the holiday season, these are just a few ideas to get you inspired to get in the holiday spirit, lift up the lives of those in need and receive the greatest gift of all — the intrinsic feeling you get of giving back.