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The holidays are a time for togetherness and celebration for many, but for some, the holidays are grueling, particularly lonely and extremely challenging. More than 3.5 million Americans are homeless each year – a staggering number that continues to grow. Aiding those in need is a meaningful way to give back this holiday season. Here are a few ways you can make a difference.

  1. Give out care packages.

Care package ideas have become a growing trend on social media in recent years. Oftentimes, people will share an image of completed care packages – a brilliant idea of how to spread care, love and support to the homeless. Care packages are easy to assemble and don’t cost a lot of money. They can include items such as:

  • Toiletries
  • Non-perishable snacks
  • Loose change for bus money/phone calls
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Winter weather gear like gloves and scarves
  • Socks and underwear
  1. Donate items to a shelter or food bank.

Shelters and food banks see a huge influx of those in need during the holiday season. This means they rely heavily on donations from those who are able. Consider going through your closets and drawers to donate gently-used clothing and blankets. You can also donate non-perishable food items or even provide monetary donations to shelters and food banks.

  1. Offer your time or a kind word.

Helping out doesn’t have to cost money. Volunteering your time at a shelter, food bank, donation center, or other organizations that help the homeless is an excellent way to make a difference. Even a kind word to a stranger who looks like they’re struggling can go a long way in boosting their spirit during the holiday season.

  1. Participate in a fundraiser.

Many charities and organizations host fundraisers during the holiday season, such as a 5K walk or run, toy and food drives, and galas that raises funds. This is a fun way to get involved with helping the homeless during a time when they are the most vulnerable and alone.

Every contribution makes a difference, no matter how big or small.  So this holiday season, let’s really make a difference in the lives of our fellow man and women.