Spreading Holiday Cheer in Your Community by Volunteering with Local Organizations

The holidays are the perfect time to spread some extra cheer. At Offleash’d, we believe in the power of connection and the beauty of bringing people together. When the days are short and the air is cold, nothing beats gathering with loved ones to share the warmth and joy of the holiday season. However, there are those who may not be as lucky to have a strong support system or even the ability to provide simple necessities to those they love.

Community is defined as the “feeling of fellowship, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” Whether you find your community among coworkers or congregations, there is no denying the strength we derive from the support of others, and it’s important that we recognize all the ways that others help us every day so that we may pay it forward in our own way.

“Volunteering moves people into the present and distracts the mind from the stresses and problems of the self. Many studies show that one of the best ways to deal with hardships in life is not just to center on yourself but to take the opportunity to engage in simple acts of kindness,” says Stephen G. Post, the founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. When we do things for other people, a chemical reaction takes place, where dopamine, an endorphin that blocks pain signals, and oxytocin which is known as the tranquility hormone are released.

Not only is giving back good for your health, but it can seriously impact someone’s day, perhaps even change their life. When we take the initiative to give back to our fellow humans, we are taking the first step in bettering the world, starting with our local community. This year, we want to help you find ways to give back to those who could use a little extra holiday cheer. There are plenty of organizations around the country that are always in need of some helping hands. Our amazing partner, PAWS, is always looking for new volunteers to help care for animals and join in community outreach programs. For our human neighbors, joy can be spread in a multitude of ways, from serving food at homeless shelters to helping facilitate toy drives for kids in need!

Here are a few nationally recognized campaigns where you can give back no matter where you live!

Barnes and Noble hosts an annual Holiday Book Drive at their locations across the United States, where shoppers can purchase books to be donated to several different charities, such as hospitals, schools, and literary programs.

The Toys for Tots Foundation is a nonprofit charity that has been delivering toys for kids since 1947 with the help of the United States Marine Corps. Today, the foundation donates an average of 18 million toys to 7 million children annually. You can donate a toy for deserving children by finding a local donation box, or if there are none in your area, you can give virtually as well!

Chewy.com is partnering with animal shelters by giving shoppers the chance to shop virtual wish lists for rescue organizations in their area. The Chewy Gives Back program helps supply shelters with food, toys, and other essentials.

Looking for a more DIY approach? Nothing spreads holiday cheer like something homemade and given from the heart. This can be as simple as handing out Christmas cards to friends and family or baking yummy snacks for your neighbors. (Bonus points if you make your own pet treats!) So, this holiday season, gather with those you love and give back however you are able. After all, we are all one big community!

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