This is the time of year when everyone talks about “giving back” and helping those less fortunate than ourselves. Fortunately, many of us are easily able to meet our basic needs, but there are still too many at home and abroad who lack essentials such as food and shelter. The holiday season with its spirit of caring for families and strangers alike is a good time to think about giving back.

There are numerous ways you can engage charitably in your own and the global community:

• Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter.

• Donate to a food bank—and donate regularly throughout the year.

• Clean out your closet and give what you haven't worn in a while to adults and children in need.

• Help the homeless as they are especially vulnerable to the elements. If you see someone outside on a cold day, provide them with warm socks, hats and scarves.

• Give your children some money to donate to a charity—and ask why they have chosen one cause over another to encourage discussions about giving.

If you want to buy a gift that provides hope and the real possibility of meaningful change for people in developing nations, numerous charitable and non-governmental organizations offer a wide range of ethical choices such as Plan Canada's Gifts of Hope.

More information is available at

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