The weather’s getting chilly, leaves have fallen off the trees, and snow is on its way! That means the holidays are right around the corner and so is the time of giving! While receiving presents is nice, being generous to others is even better, especially as a business. Taking the initiative to give to others as a company is rewarding, engages employees to work as a team, and promotes your business.

Things we take for granted, like books, warm clothes, toiletries, food, and shelter, are often luxuries that millions of people don’t have. Even if your business isn’t able to donate or purchase items to give away, you can still devote time by volunteering to help those in need.

Check out ways your business can make the holidays special for everyone:

# 1 Host a Drive

A lot of drives require a minimum of participants to either donate items or help volunteer with set up and registration. That’s why companies are the perfect candidates for hosting any type of drive. No matter what you choose, remember that most organizations will help you coordinate the drive; however, you must sign up or apply in advance. Not every area is going to have programs that help companies host drives and that’s okay! Some will still offer their assistance to make sure you’re successful and allow you to mail in any donations you receive.

There are many different drives you can look into, including books, clothes, blood, and food.

Hosting a drive takes a lot of preparation, therefore it’s best to figure out which kind will be the most suitable and make sure your company meets all of the requirements. To find out what drive best suits your employees, send out a survey and have them vote on a date they’re available to volunteer/donate and what type of drive they would be willing to participate in. For example, some of your staff might be squeamish about blood and most likely wouldn’t want to be a part of a blood drive.

# 2 Adopt-a-Family

If you want to take donating a step further, try adopting a family for the holidays. Once your company has signed up and “adopted” a family, you will receive their Christmas lists. Place the lists in your break room and have staff members sign up for certain items. This way you prevent any duplicates and ensure that everyone gets an equal number of gifts. Set a deadline for everyone to bring in the gifts they purchased and throw a wrapping party with holiday music and festive drinks, like apple cider or hot chocolate.

I used to work for a company who adopted a family through their church community, but there are other organizations like Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army that offer sign-up services. Remember when you adopt-a-family, you aren’t just getting gifts for the kids, but everyone in the household. This includes parents, grandparents, and any other relatives that might live in the home, like cousins or aunts and uncles.

# 3 Make Care Packages

Not being able to afford or receive presents during the holidays can be disheartening, but being surrounded by loved ones is truly what matters most. That’s why making care packages for soldiers overseas or animals left in shelters can give someone a little piece of home. Do some research and provide a list of items needed for the care packages. Then set a deadline for each staff member to bring in their own individually-made care kit. This ensures that each one is unique and includes personal touches.

Organizations like Support Our Troops, Just Our Soldiers Helpers, and Operation Gratitude all offer care package opportunities for active military members. From sunscreen and movies to candy bars and beef jerky, there’s no shortage of items you can send. There are also non-profit animal rescues or local animal control centers that accept donations such as food, toys, litter, blankets, or dog beds. Some even have Amazon wish lists to make it easier on you, your employees, and the shelter staff. Overall, you can always call to find out what they need.

# 4 Send Handwritten Holiday Cards

Some places, like hospitals or nursing homes, don’t allow care packages but will allow you to send cards. Conduct a short staff meeting and have everyone brainstorm holiday card ideas and agree on a destination to send them when they’re completed. Once you have a general idea of what the cards will look like, get them printed and hand out one for each member of your staff. Every employee will have the ability to write their own holiday-inspired message.

Of course, there’s going to be some generalness to each card because you won’t know these people personally, but I can promise you the thought alone is what matters. After years of experience with nursing home residents at my mom’s facility, I can vouch that the smallest gesture can make all the difference in the world. That’s why letting others know you’re thinking about them this holiday season will keep them from saying, “Bah Humbug!” The thought of receiving a piece of mail that isn’t a bill or junk is enough to make anyone feel warm and fuzzy inside.

# 5 Help the Homeless

If you want to be more involved with who you’re helping and put a face to the cause, try finding a homeless shelter near your company. Pick a date, usually on the evenings or weekends, and put signup sheets in your lunch room or send out a mass email asking for volunteers. Once you have enough volunteers, agree to either meet at work and carpool or all meet at the homeless shelter. Here at Quality Logo Products®, we like to donate our unused promos to our local homeless shelter, Hesed House, including jackets, blankets, and reusable water bottles.

Winter is by far one of the worst seasons to not have proper clothing, a good meal, or an adequate heat source. Food pantries and soup kitchens are ways your company can make sure that people have enough food to eat. Since shelters fill up fast, hot foods will help warm up those that have to spend a lot of time outdoors. Aside from food, the homeless are in desperate need for hats, mittens, winter coats, socks, and boots to help keep warm. You can donate extra or outgrown winter gear, including kids clothing items. Most people don’t realize there are over 1 million homeless kids in the United States between the ages 5-18. It’s vital for their overall health and well-being that they also stay warm. Try calling your local homeless shelters, including women’s domestic shelters, to sign up and help!

# 6 Be Unique

With so many opportunities to spread happiness, some of the simplest ways to make someone’s holiday can get overlooked, like leaving a generous tip at your local coffee shop, donating poinsettia bouquets to district teachers, or buying donuts for your county law enforcement. You can choose something different each year or have your company come up with unique ways to give back and say thanks and take a vote! Once something is decided on, set up a donation box that everyone has access to and let your staff know how long they have to contribute. You can set a minimum of $5 for each staff member or leave the amount entirely up to them!

After the donations are all collected, it’s time to execute your company’s idea! If your employees chose donuts, use the money to buy a wide variety at your neighborhood donut shop and drop off the donuts at the police department closest to you. Keeping these opportunities local not only spreads holiday cheer, but also gives back to your community and promotes internal economic growth.

# 7 Volunteer

If none of these options work for your company due to a shortage of staff or you would rather donate time, you can always volunteer. There are tons of different organizations to choose from, such as Feed My Starving Children or Meals on Wheels, that can help spread some holiday cheer. All you have to do is gather a list of how many of your employees would like to volunteer, sign-up, and pick a date and time!

There are places all over the United States where you and your company can volunteer. Need somewhere to start? Ask your employees for some ideas or you can try finding your perfect volunteer match here. Over 100,000 non-profits rely on Volunteer Match to find volunteers for their programs.

No matter what you decide to do, whether it’s a personal or team decision, you’re sure to brighten someone’s day by donating your time this holiday season. Who knows, maybe you’ll make their whole year! There is always going to be people and animals out there that need help, especially when the weather gets colder. In the end, spreading happiness, warmth, and kindness is never a bad thing.

Does your company volunteer or give back at the end of the year? Share your stories below. We’d love to hear what you do to make the world a little more joyful!

About the author

Kyrsten Ledger

Kyrsten is a promo expert with a passion for branding . Her vast knowledge of promotional giveaways and marketing has led to several articles and published work for PPB Magazine, a publication from the Promotional Products Association International.