Giving back for the holidays

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The image of the cash-strapped, Ramen-noodle-eating college student is a cliché, but for good reason. Between tuition, books and all the other expenses associated with attending college, you may feel as though you have nothing to give when holiday time rolls around — but that’s not true!

 

If you would like to make a positive difference this season, check out some of these easy solutions for holiday giving that are either free or cost very little money. Some of them are so keen that you may wish to “give back” all year long!

 

Donate Blood

Especially around the holiday season, when driving accidents put a strain on blood supply, consider donating blood. It’s even more important if you fall into one of these rare blood type categories. Donating blood is also good for your health because it may contribute to a lower risk of cancer, among other things. Good news, huh? And you’ll get a cookie out of the deal. Sweet!

 

Donate Time

It’s true: Time is money, and your volunteer hours are priceless. Whether reading to a senior citizen whose eyesight may be failing to visiting kids in the cancer ward at a nearby hospital, volunteering can be more than just serving at a soup kitchen (which is also a great option). To find out what skills are needed where, you can either Google your own university or college’s campus life/volunteerism department or visit the website for the non-profit organization Volunteers of America to see where their needs align with your skills and interests.

 

Donate Frequent-Flyer Miles

If you travel or have a credit card that accumulates points for travel, consider donating them to a non-profit. Non-profits in general do not receive much funding for things like travel expenses, because it’s rarely directly program-related. There are also non-profits that specifically accept frequent flyer miles for their mission. Contact your airline to see if they participate in donation programs, or call a non-profit that you support and ask if they would have use for your miles.

 

Donate Through Kickstarter

Technically, this option may cost you a little money. However, crowdfunding is an exciting way to help someone reach his or her dreams without spending a lot of money individually. If your group of friends has a special cause in mind, you can even pool your resources to give more money to a specific project.

 

Donate to Charities that Invest in People

This is another option that will cost you a small amount of money, but the return on your investment will help liberate another from a life of poverty. Sample non-profits include Heifer International, Global Giving, Kiva or Vitamin Angels. These non-profits pool micro-investment to leverage macro results.

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As a bonus, think about the way you interact with people each day. Especially during the holidays, when people may be stressed, give them a smile, be patient, hold the door open for someone else, pay for the person’s coffee behind you. Teeny little karma ripples all add up to a great way of giving, during the holidays and all year round!

 

Harrison Kratz is the Community Manager at MBA@UNC, the online business degree program offered through the University of North Carolina. Harrison also sticks to his entrepreneurial roots as the founder of the global social good campaign, Operation: Social Santa. When he’s not working, Harrison switches his focus to great food, watching any sport that’s on TV, all things Disney, and traveling. You can find Harrison on Twitter @KratzPR.

 

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