Times are tight for all of us. You may not have any extra cash this holiday season, but that doesn't mean you can't give worthwhile gifts that will make a difference in someone's life.
Here are 4 ways to be a Christmas angel, even if you have less money to spend than Bob Cratchit. They won't cost you a dime, but all will provide rich rewards that last far into the new year...
1. Let Your Words Put Food on Someone's Table
Follow this blog or leave a comment below. I'll donate $1 to Heifer International for every new follower and every commenter between now and 12:00 midnight EST December 24.
I wish I could take credit for this fantastic idea, but it originated last year with then-uberagent Nathan Bransford, who kicked off his "Making Spirits Bright With Heifer" campaign, in which he pledged to donate $1 to Heifer International.
Last year my fabulous commenters made a gift of bees possible. All told, Mr. Bransford's idea raised over $2000 for Heifer. Just from people like you typing a few words in the comments sections of blogs like this.
When you've joined this blog or left a comment below, be the gift that keeps on giving!
Visit Nathan Bransford's blog (he did it again this year, too: donating $1 to Heifer International for every comment through 6 PM Wed., Dec. 22, PST). Comment on all the blogs listed on his post that are still open. (This will be one of them. As of this writing, there are 14 listed.) Then, click on any blogs linked below and comment there, too! If you join or comment on 20 blogs, that's $20 you've contributed to help someone -- just from typing in a few words of commentary!
If you'd like to contribute in a tangible way to Heifer International and make a positive difference in another person's 2010 holiday season, write a dedicated blog post about it and add your blog to the Linky list below:
2. Follow the Leaders
Bestselling author & agent Jason Pinter (@jasonpinter) launched the #donaterif Twitter campaign yesterday to raise money for Reading Is Fundamental.
Lots of your favorite writers, publishers, editors, and agents -- as well as "regular readers" have jumped on board. Most have pledged $1 for every new Twitter follower they get between now and December 31.
Shelf Media Group has a list of all #donaterif participants. As I write, there are 42 names on the list.
If you are on Twitter, just adding these people to those you follow will give the gift of reading to someone else who needs it. If you're not on Twitter, there is no better time to sign up. You'll never find a better list of recommended folks to follow!
If you do nothing more than comment on the blogs listed in #1 and follow those on #2, your actions will raise over $50 for two very worthy charities! Even if you can't afford to donate a cent yourself.
If, however, you want to be personally involved in gift-giving this year, here are a few more suggestions that are within the means of everyone:
3. Pass the Book
If you're a writer or a reader, chances are you have shelves full of books. And some of those books probably haven't been opened in over a year.
Why not free up some of that shelf space and donate the books you haven't read in the past 12 months to people who will read them now? Many homeless shelters, Goodwill industries, soup kitchens, libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, school districts, and church groups will jump at the chance to take your books to new readers. Often, your donation will also qualify for a tax receipt, which is a "win" for all concerned!
4. Tell a Story
Contact your local hospital, hospice at home, homeless shelter, or preschool and volunteer to read to those who can't.
Take your favorite book or ask if they have a preference, then spend an hour or two of your time sharing your love of the written word with others. Imagine: if you were too sick, blind, harried, or humbled to be able to relax with a book -- wouldn't you appreciate someone taking the time to transport you to a lovely literary world for a few moments? Pick up the phone and make a few calls. I predict your gift will be greatly welcomed.
I don't know who to attribute the sentiment to, but it's true:
"Measure your wealth not in what you have, but in what you have for which you would accept no money."
Have a blessed holiday!