“I don’t know what to say, except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”
– Ellen Griswold, Christmas Vacation
The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year. Yet, finicky lights and finicky family frame a month filled with last-minute shopping, bungled culinary undertakings, and piles of tattered gift wrap and unpaid bills. Somewhere buried underneath that heap of holiday stress is the magic that makes it all worthwhile. It’s what helps siblings call cease fires and in-laws seem human. It’s what makes mail bags burst at the seams with well wishes and donations hit annual highs.
The easiest way to tap into that holiday magic is by giving back. In 2008, Americans volunteered for more than 8 billion hours. A staggering number that, with your help, will continue to grow year after year. The best way to get involved and stay involved is to volunteer or donate to a cause that inspires you.
For those of you that want to be a part of this season of giving back, Moji has compiled a list of charities that speak to your personal passions as much as your passion for giving. Get involved yourself or give a charitable donation as a gift to your favorite weekend warrior. We bet that it will be the best gift they’ll receive this year.
Ten Ways to Celebrate Your Passion and Share the Love
Give from your feet.
Hey all you pack rats out there! You only need a maximum of two pairs of old, trashy running shoes for lawn mowing, house painting, and those irresistible muddy-day runs. TWO. If you are one of the many that purchase new shoes every 500 miles, you have loads of extra kicks. Get yourself more closet space and give others much needed foot support. Not into sharing shoes? At least help out the environment by recycling correctly. Runner’s World has put together a great list of shoe donation and recycling resources.
Be a coach.
While most coaches come from the ranks of parents lining the field, you don’t need a kid on the team to bear the proud nickname of Coach. Sports are a means for kids to learn discipline, time management, and stay fit! Take your athletic expertise and arsenal of war stories and go have some fun. Every city/town/village has volunteer coaching opportunities. The names of the best places to look will all sound familiar: Little League Baseball and Softball, American Youth Soccer Organzation, Youth Basketball Organization of America, YMCA
Be a part of something special.
Though most people have heard of the Special Olympics, not everyone knows exactly what it is. By offering more than thirty individual and team sports to persons with disabilities, the Special Olympics has become one of the most prestigious 501(c)(3)s in the world. Find out how you can use your athletic skills to help others at the Special Olympics website. Five minutes on the site will change your world. And besides, no one else can say they have the World’s Largest Truck Convoy.
Run for a cause.
Running for charity is one of the fast growing athletic trends we are proud to get behind. It’s no shock that cause-related race sign ups are growing exponentially. As a charity runner you enjoy camaraderie with others, the joy of helping others in need and, of course, that beloved runner’s high. Run with a purpose this year. Read about where all your hard work goes, some of the most inspiring charity runners, and then sign up for a race or, better yet, join a team: Holiday Runs, Run for Water, Team in Training, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Team World Vision
Links of love.
Golf prides itself on being a gentleman’s game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great for kids, too. In fact, golf teaches time management, discipline, and attention to detail – all skills that will help these kids in their future careers. Share some tee-time with underprivileged youth and give them the mentorship they need to succeed on the links and in life. Check out Kids on the Course, Girls Golf, or any number of local charities. We especially love Midnight Golf in Detroit and Girls in the Game’s annual golf tournament in Chicago.
Donate a bike.
Hey cyclists and triathletes! You know that you have at least one bike chillin’ in your storage space or garage glaring at you every time you stroll by, wondering when he or she (depending upon its gender) will be put into action next. You don’t have the guts to tell said bike that you just won the latest Fat Cyclist contest and are getting a new Madone or plan to invest in something just a tad bit shinier. But evade no longer! There are plenty of organizations out there looking for old bikes, some to fund projects, others to ship overseas to people who need them. Click here for a list of donation locations by city.
Dig in. Do you have a green thumb? Whether you have prize-winning roses or can grow squash larger than most toddlers, you can put that talent to public use. There are a plethora of organizations that improve rundown areas, facilitate natural habitats, and turn concrete jungles into breathable green spots, like Philly’s Neighborhood Gardens Association, Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project and the Green Guerillas whose motto is, “It’s your city, dig it.” For a patch near you: American Community Garden Association.
Shop for good. As much as you’d love to do all good deeds for the holidays, you probably will need to make some purchases for friends, family and co-workers. Luckily, now you can do both! At Good Shop and iGive you can find coupons for major brands while donating a portion of your purchase to your favorite charity. Alternatively, you can give the gift of giving. Just Give and Charity Choice allow you to buy gift certificates that will enable your friends and family to go online, learn about charities, and give the money to one or more of those causes that touch their hearts.
Want a good workout? Build a house. Habitat for Humanity International is a great way to cross train for whatever sport you may love. After a few climbs up the ladder and a days-worth of hammer usage working to build a home for a family in need, all your muscles will be feeling it…including your heart. To date, Habitat for Humanity International has built over 350,000 homes around the world. Be a part of this amazing tradition and sign up as an individual of do it as a team-building activity for work.
Put your money where your heart is. If doing isn’t in your schedule this year, then consider donating. All of these organizations as well as thousands of others accept your hard-earned dollars. It’s the season of giving back, so give it all you’ve got. Go, do-gooders, go.
Do you have a favorite charity, race, or donation? Let us know below and we will add it to the list so that other can get involved, too!