Clearly, we are a nation of shoppers. The Nation Retail Federation estimates that consumers will spend over $200 billion this holiday season. As gifted shoppers, we can donate our talents and the fruits of our labors to good causes.
Holiday deals and frugal shopping are gift-wrapped opportunities to give to the less fortunate. And even if your holiday budget is tight, there are painless ways to contribute to seasonal charities.
By tapping into sales and assorted promotions, it's possible to satisfy the demands of your gift list, while still giving a bundle to homeless and impoverished families.
Charitable giving is especially important this year. In the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane season, many organizations are working overtime to provide support for hard-hit families. Therefore, donations of merchandise, time and services are appreciated at nursing homes, shelters and other non-profit institutions.
But you don't have to spend a lot to give a fortune during the holiday
season. For instance, buy-one-get-one (BOGO) free offers provide a frugal
outlet for charitable giving. From shoes to office equipment, holiday
catalogues and shopping flyers bulge with two-for-one deals or other
discounts for multiple purchases.
Toys "R" Us., Walgreens, Office Depot and others retailers have been marketing assorted BOGO offers, which include either free or half-off deals on merchandise. Likewise, educational wooden puzzles are three-for-$10 this week at Target.
Other retailers are offering specials on board games, electronic toys and other gadgets. Tapping into those discounts provides an affordable way to share new merchandise with others. Buy one for your gift list and donate the free or discounted items to a toy drive, a charitable thrift store or a homeless shelter.
The idea is not my own. I was inspired by my friend, Beth, a frugal shopper who picked up great deals after Halloween and donated a significant portion of her merchandise-including tissue boxes priced at 19 cents each-- to a local food bank.
CHILDREN & HOLIDAYS AND COMMUNITY SERVICE
I know of other families who incorporate community service into their holiday traditions. Family or group projects include distributing baked goods at a nursing home, visiting hospital patients or serving holiday meals at a soup kitchen. Such activities not only spread good will, but provide parents with a hands-on opportunity to share the values of compassion and community service with children.
I have also heard of families and individuals who operate with a one-in; one-out system that works like this: For every new item (toy, game, or garment) received, a comparable item from the closet is donated to a thrift store or given away. On an organizational basis, this system reduces the glut of toys and trinkets after birthdays and holidays. But more, importantly, recycled merchandise -in good condition-is valuable to others.