11 Ways to Give Back This Holiday Season

Posted by Laura Reindl on December 16, 2014

It's the giving season, and here at Binghamton University there are plenty of ways you can make a difference in someone else's life. Our Center for Civic Engagement offers countless ways to give back, and we've listed just a few of them here. So go on and spread the good cheer, Bearcats!

1. Clean out your closet

article images

Not thrilled with last year's holiday sweater from Aunt Marcy? Don't just stuff it in a drawer -- someone out there could use an extra layer this winter. On campus, we suggest donating to Perfectly Suited. And if you don't have clothes to donate, Knock Knock Give a Sock is a program that just collects socks.

2. Prepare a holiday meal for the hungry

article images

Many local soup kitchens rely on Binghamton University volunteers, which becomes problematic over winter break, when most of them leave the area. Whether you're sticking around in Binghamton for the next week or the next month, volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great way to give back. Binghamton University has an especially great relationship with All Saints Soup and Sandwich, a program that provides a warm, hearty lunch to the underprivileged.

3. Pay it forward by making a small investment to a business in need

article images

You can microfinance a small business owner in a Third World country for as little as $25. When they succceed, you get your money back. With a 98.7 percent repayment rate, it rarely costs you anything, but makes a huge difference to someone else. 

4. Combat food insecurity on and off campus

article images

Many students come to college with minimal resources, and hunger makes it difficult to study, sleep and engage in extracurricular activies. Binghamton University's Bear Necessities Pantry provides food and toiletries to your peers in need. You can donate nonperishable food items and personal care/toiletries to the pantry, located in UUW-204.

Food donations are also accepted on campus to help feed the hungry of Broome County. The Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) collects nonperishable food around campus and provides food to over 30 food pantries and 35 soup kitchens in the area. Last year, Binghamton University collected 1,555 pounds of food for CHOW.

5. Send a letter to a soldier

article images

Not everyone can be home during the holidays. Let soldiers know you are appreciative for what they do for this country by sending a letter.

6. Visit a nursing home

article images

The holidays can be lonely for senior citizens who don't have family. Contact a local nursing home to arrange a visit and learn about regular volunteer opportunties.

7. Talk to college-bound seniors at your high school

article images

Let's face it -- the college decision process has become super stressful. Some schools have programs in which college students or alumni come back to counsel college-bound high school seniors. It's both informative and comforting to be able to speak to someone who has already been through the process. 

8. Contact your local United Way

article images

United Way has the reputation of being the epicenter of community volunteering, advocating and donating. Your local United Way branch should have plenty of opportunties for you to give back to your community.

9. Donate gently used toys to children in need

article images

Many holiday toy drives request new toys only, but the Salvation Army will take gently used toys. If you have toys collecting dust at home, give them a second home and make a child happy. Here are some guidelines on what they’ll accept.  

10. Give someone a big, bear(cat) hug

article images

Remember that you can never know a person's entire story, so be kind. Share a smile, a hug, a kind word. It could make all the difference.

11. Say "Thank you"

article images

Tell someone who has made a difference in your life what they mean to you. A parent, sibling, friend, professor -- it will make their day, and yours, too.