Giving Back

News & Politics
What Will You Do to Make This Year Meaningful?

"I'm going to give people cards laminated that say� 'I O U 3 hours of yard work�' or, 'wash the car free' or I'll take a special person out to go look at Christmas lights or tell stories about past Christmases." Chris,16 -- Walnut Creek, CA

"I'm going to take my girlfriend to a cabin in the snow and cuddle." Tyler, 19 -- Hayward, CA

"I'll probably either make goodies from scratch, or decorate some sort of collage for friends." Suzy,16 -- Walnut Creek, CA

"Go to the park and spend time with important people in my life, maybe make them dinner." Zach, 21 -- Berkeley, CA

"I am helping adopt a family by providing a meal for them and toys for their kids." Rochelle, 23 -- Davis, CA

A poll done by the Center for a New American Dream suggests that a vast number of Americans don't see this as just another holiday season. According to the national survey conducted in mid-November, 63% of Americans said they plan to "make the holidays more meaningful than ever."

So, what exactly does this mean? Are there real alternatives to buying more junk this holiday season? Well, some people are volunteering the time they would normally have spent shopping. According to USA Today, general interest in volunteering has increased by 30 percent since September 11. Some reports say that the numbers may be even higher among youth. For instance, 90 percent of young people 4-H talked to in one of their studies said they were interested in volunteering.

What does that mean for the holiday season? Well, for one thing, more young people are getting out into their communities and putting in the time to help their neighbors. Want to get in on the act? Here are some ideas:

Ways to Give Back for the Holidays

1) Volunteer at a local food bank or soup kitchen. Get your friends and family involved if you can, your church youth group, friends at school, the band, the chess club, or your floor of the dorm.

2) Donate gifts to an organization or several organizations that give gifts to those less needy and buy gifts for them, recruit others to do the same.

3) Donate to an organization whose work you like INSTEAD of giving gifts (send letters to your friends letting them know you did so).

4) Help Build a House with Habitat for Humanity

5) Throw a Gift-Making Party
-invite all of your friends and then make gifts; bracelets, cute boxes, picture frames, personalize something from a store, then wrap them and donate them

6) Visit these sites for ideas and locations to volunteer your time:

American Red Cross Youth

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