Get the family together this holiday season to do some good. Here are 7 ways that you can help out in your community.

family volounteering during holidays

The holidays are a time of year when whole family comes together (cue cheers or dramatic sighs... your call). It’s also an ideal opportunity to talk about what you’re grateful for...and to actually Do Something about it. Here are a few ideas for those moments when you're not eating, fighting, watching football or planning your post-holiday diet regimen:

  1. Make cards for children in homeless shelters. Here is one listing of homeless shelters where you can send cards. This is an opportunity for your children to use their creative, crafty skills while learning how lucky they are and bringing a smile to a homeless kid on his or her birthday.
  2. Cook a meal for an elderly neighbor. There are fun, kid-friendly recipes on the SheKnows website. Even better, leave the meal on their doorstep with a lovely note wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving. (The point here is that we do kind deeds to bring joy to other people, not so we can receive thanks.)
  3. Bring leftovers to your local homeless shelter. You can use the same listing above to find homeless shelters in your area. Be sure to call ahead and see if there are any particular things they are in need of. Don't forget extra paper plates, napkins or other unused items.
  4. Do a Turkey Trot or a 5K for a good cause. Not only will you get some quality family time, but you'll also burn off that extra helping of stuffing.
  5. Do good on Black Friday by providing a family in need with holiday gifts. Want to do it one better? Provide the gifts anonymously and don't find out who is receiving the gifts. Many organizations will provide the ages and sizes of children in need in your area.
  6. Teach the seniors in your life how to use Skype and email so you can stay in touch. It's Grandparents Gone Wired. Isolation is a huge factor in elder depression. Teach granny to Skype with you! Or, show her how to follow the @NYTimes on Twitter! It's a great opportunity for the younger and older generations to bond.
  7. Make a pledge with your family to volunteer at a soup kitchen in the spring. This is the time of year when charities get the most volunteers, so why not pledge to make a family trip in April? Call ahead and find out when your shelter is lowest on volunteers. Help when help is needed, not just when you want to lend a hand.