It’s almost “the most wonderful time of the year” – the holidays!

It’s almost “the most wonderful time of the year” – the holidays!

A time for family, fun, and feasting. But most importantly, it’s a time for giving, and we’re not just talking about gifts.

It’s easy to fall victim to the flashy nature of the holiday season, but the true spirit of the holiday comes from giving back, giving thanks and giving a hand to those in need. There are so many reasons to give back year-round but it’s especially important during the holidays to share joy and love to those who need it most.

The impact of giving is two-fold – Psychologists have found that the act of philanthropy can “lift the spirits” of those who donate. When we “do good” the brain can release dopamine – a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. Generosity breeds joy.

Here are some excellent ways to make volunteering and giving back with your family a part of your holiday To-Do list!

Pay it forward! It doesn’t have to be big to make a big difference. While out grabbing a coffee before your shopping, buy the drink of the stranger behind you! You can spur on a chain-reaction of kindness. If you’re road-tripping, grab an extra dollar or two to pay for the toll for the next car.

Go caroling! Practice your favorite Christmas tunes with the family and stop by to surprise your neighbors with a lighthearted song! Even Buddy the Elf says so himself, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

Send cards! Make some homemade cards or write letters to those who may need some extra love during this season – there are plenty of organizations that would be happy to distribute for you. Whatever makes your heart sing – you can send to soldiers, veterans, hospitals, shelters, or retirement communities, just to name a few!

Bake! Everyone loves fresh baked goods! Deliver a few extra cookies to your neighbors or to a community who you think could use some extra pep in their step.

Provide food! You can either gather and donate canned goods to a drive or dive right in and get plugged in to volunteer at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Donate clothes! We all probably have more than we need stuffed into our closets or drawers. The end of the year is the perfect time to go through and gather a pile of clothes to donate!

Santa Paws! A Paradise locations on Anna Maria Island and Ellenton will be collecting donations and essential items for our great local animal shelters. These shelters and organizations give animals a safe home until they find their forever one, so let’s help fill that home with love! Please bring dog food and cat food, treats, toys, and blankets to our office that we will deliver directly to our local pet shelters.

Toys for Tots! Our team at A Paradise has loved supporting the efforts of this amazing charity for many years and we’d love your help! Stop by any of our offices and drop off a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots to help make a child’s holiday that much brighter. We are even hosting an event  at our office on December 6th for Toys for Tots filled with raffle opportunities and fun!

So this holiday season, let your heart grow 3 sizes by giving back!