Ways For Your Family To Give Back This Holiday Season

One of my main goals as a mother is to raise children who are kind, loving, compassionate and generous. I want my children to know that even though we may not have as much as others, we still have PLENTY to give!


In a world where there is so much focus on the things we have, I believe in teaching children how important it is to give back to our community and to give to those in need. Children need to learn how to be selfless and it’s up to parents to lead by example. Many kids live in a happy, safe bubble and don’t truly realize there are people who are less fortunate until they are exposed to giving back.

In March, my family decided to do one good deed each day leading up to World Down Syndrome Day in honor of our sweet boy, Liam, who rocks an extra chromosome. We spent the month dropping off supplies to a local animal shelter, delivering cookies to office staff, mailing care packages to friends who needed some cheer in their lives and making people smile each day through acts of kindness. My entire family was involved and my kids were so excited to perform an act of kindness each day. It was the most rewarding experience and it inspired my children to make giving back a priority!

We make giving back a priority year round, but there are definitely more opportunities to do so during the months of November and December. Today, I’m sharing my family’s favorite ways to give back during the holiday season and spread holiday cheer!

    1. Collect canned goods for a food drive. Churches, schools and even the post office organize canned food drives to benefit the hungry in the community. You can also donate to a nearby food bank and find wishlists on their websites.
    2. Choose a name or a family off of a giving tree and purchase gifts for that person/family. Wrap the gifts and make the drop-off together as a family.
    3. Donate items to an animal shelter. Those shelters need more than just pet supplies and often have wishlists on their websites. Most people think along the lines of pet food and toys, but those shelters need items like bleach and paper towels to operate!
    4. Donate items to a project bundle up. Give gently used coats or purchase inexpensive gloves and hats for those in need. I always purchase a bunch of gloves when they go on clearance for less than a dollar and I set them aside until the following winter!
    5. While your family is doing some Christmas shopping, say yes when asked to donate a toy for a toy drive. Even the smallest toy can make a child’s day and every little bit adds up!
    6. Donate blood because it’s such a selfless way to help a person in need. Find a location HERE.
    7. Drop off stuffed animals or coloring books and crayons to a local Children’s Hospital or Ronald McDonald House.
    8. Collect new or gently used blankets and donate them to the homeless.
    9. Donate to the Foster Love Project, which is local. You can put together a placement bag for a foster child or donate a gift card to support a foster family.
    10. Purchase a pack of diapers for a diaper bank which benefits the needy in your community.
    11. Put together a few toiletry kits using travel-sized items and deliver to a local women’s shelter.
    12. Send a care package or thank you letter to someone in the armed forces. It’s a great way to thank them for their service and dedication!
    13. Make participating in Operation Christmas Child a new family tradition. Make this your project this week because national collection week is from November 14th until November 21st.  For ideas of what to pack in a shoebox for a child in need and to find a drop-off location near you, visit the website.
    14. Choose a cause together as a family and make a monetary donation. Have each child contribute to the donation from their piggy bank or savings account.
    15. Donate outgrown toys, clothing and books.
    16. Thank people in your community for their hard work and dedication.  Deliver holiday cookies to your local fire station and police station this holiday season and tell them thank you for their service!
    17. Bring a little cheer to somebody’s day! It can be as simple as bringing cookies to the office staff at your doctor’s office!
    18. Send in supplies to your child’s classroom. Many teachers have to replenish classroom supplies throughout the year and every little donation helps!
    19. Donate an item to one of your favorite places to visit in your community. We love our local library so a great way to give back would be to donate a book or a toy to the children’s library.
    20. Volunteer your time. Make volunteering together as a family each holiday season your new family tradition! Find volunteer opportunities for your family at Pittsburgh Cares.

It’s so important to give back to our community and to give to those in need. I hope all the ways my family gives back is making an impact on the world, but also on my children.  I hope they are learning valuable lessons that they will carry with them into adulthood and then make giving back a part of their everyday life.

Giving back IS essential and I also encourage my children to spread love and kindness each and every day. Even the smallest acts of kindness can inspire others and make this world a more beautiful place!


What are your favorite ways to give back during the holiday season and spread holiday cheer?



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Stefanie Settlemire
Stefanie is a wife and SAHM to 4 children, living in Mars. Stefanie and her husband refer to their children as Phase One (Dylan-Age 13 and Alexandria-Age 10) and Phase Two (Liliana-Age 6 and Liam-Age 4). Phase Three is out of the question! Stefanie’s family became a family blessed with Down syndrome when her youngest child had a surprise diagnosis after his birth. Although the family’s initial reaction was shock and fear, they quickly learned to embrace this beautiful journey and they now realize what the term “The Lucky Few” really means. Stefanie spends her days wrangling chaos. In addition to four kids, her family has 4 large pet rabbits...the more the merrier! In her spare time she loves to embarrass her children by singing show tunes from her musical theater days, come up with messy projects to keep her children busy, chase her children around with her camera, read, volunteer for the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network, blog at http://www.lexieloolilyliamdylantoo.com and post daily on Instagram (www.instagram.com/lexieloolilyliamdylantoo). Sleep is just a distant memory!