Do you want to contribute to the greater good this holiday season but you find yourself tight on funds? Look no further, for I have found your ways of being able to help those in need this year on a budget!

1) Share a Card
Every year since 2014, I decided to send Christmas cards to those who are ill or unable to be with their families at Christmas due to hospitalizations. Share A Card, based in Pennsylvania collects stories of those who wish to receive holiday cards and post those stories on their website. It's simple. You send Christmas cards to whoever you like, or everyone, and brighten their holidays as they battle illness. What I do to make this inexpensive is I use Christmas cards I got at the end of last season on clearance and send them this season. Last year I wrote to every resident and it cost the price of the cards ($7) plus shipping ($12). So for under twenty dollars, you can send an entire box of cards to those in need this Christmas.

2) Give Spare Change to the Salvation Army
This may not seem like a big donation, but by giving your spare change to the bellringers at box stores you're making a monumental difference. According to the Salvation Army (North Division) website,

The bell ringing season starts each November and runs through Christmas Eve, when the red kettles are packed away for the season. Volunteers are the difference between an empty kettle and one that raises about $30 per hour – enough to provide a family with two bags of groceries or shelter an individual for a night.

That's a huge reason to donate your change this holiday season.

3) Donate Toys to Toys 4 Tots
Each year I donate toys to Toys 4 Tots. Toys 4 Tots collects toys for children for the holidays who otherwise would not have access to toys for Christmas. To achieve an affordable way of donating if you're short on cash, I recommend visiting clearance sections in stores or going to a store like Bargain Hunt, where toys are often heavily discounted. It may take an investment of time to search through the aisles, but I have found good toys as cheap as three dollars each to donate. One year I found a rack of Ninja Turtle swimming trunks for just 80 cents each! I donated about 15 pairs of new swimming trunks to a local shelter for women and children for less than $15. So if you're short on cash, finding the clearance deals are a must.

4) Create an Acts of Kindness list
An Acts of Kindness list is a list of good deeds that you can afford to do to make someone's day a little better. We all have bad days, and just having someone come up and do one kind thing for us can change our whole day. We've all been there and all experienced it and now it's time to pass those acts of kindness on! The below Youtube clip has ideas for acts of kindness to perform for people as the holidays approach. This is a good one to do all of the time, not just during the holiday season.

5) Donate to a Food Drive
Got food in your pantry that's not expired that you just don't think you're actually going to use? Donate it to a food drive! Alternatively, you could head to the store and spend $20 or less on inexpensive food drive items such as boxed stuffing, boxed mac and cheese, and canned goods! Most of those items are a dollar or less each. Not much else is more selfless than donating food to those who are hungry.

6) Post on Social Media
This one may sound frivolous, but I assure you that it isn't. Use your platform and your followers to help make a difference for free. Post local shelter need lists, local non-profit fundraising events, volunteering opportunities, or anything that would help get the word out for people to assemble and help. One year someone posted a list of a local shelter's needs and I was able to help that entity by donating items on their list all because of one social media post. You never know who you might help by sharing a post.

7) Volunteer
Volunteer your time and energy at a shelter, local non-profit, or even animal shelter instead of donating money or items. Lots of organizations including Salvation Army, Tri-State Food Bank, Evansville Rescue Mission, and many more utilize volunteer help as a big portion of their staff during the holiday season. Donating your time and effort is just as important as donating money to an establishment. With all of the wonderful organizations in Evansville that are helping our community every day, there are plenty of places to choose from to donate your time this holiday season.

8) Make Calls for Non-profit Organizations
Many people don't know this, but a lot of non-profit organizations depend on volunteers to make calls from home to secure donations for their facilities. If you don't have the ability to volunteer in person, this is a great opportunity for you. It's relatively easy. I did this one year and just called the entity to ask if they had any calling that needed to be done and they provided a list of proprietors along with phone numbers and it was my job to explain who I was, who I was volunteering for, and asking if they would be willing to donate items for people in need. It was really easy and a fulfilling experience knowing I could participate and help when I was short on cash.

Do you have more inexpensive ways to help those in need during the holiday season? Add them below!

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