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Season of giving means many things
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With Thanksgiving Day only hours behind us -- which I’m guessing is the equivalent of a decade in “shopping years” -- the Christmas holiday season is officially underway.

By the time you read this column, you may or may not be nursing your wounds after being trampled in stores early this morning. Or you may or may not have spent the latter part of the afternoon staring glassy-eyed at the wall, undoubtedly still tired from waking up at 4 a.m. to catch online sales this Black Friday.

But regardless of how you’ve decided to kick off this holiday season, did you ever stop to think about what you could do to help someone else out?

And I’m not talking about helping out in the buying-your-sibling-her-favorite-DVD-for-Christmas sense. I’m talking about donating time and/or money to someone who may need your help or who is less fortunate than you are.

Around this time of year, several businesses and churches will begin putting up their Angel Trees for visitors or employees to donate specific items to a child in need. If you have time, stop by and grab an angel. It’s the perfect way to actually make sure that the person in need is getting everything he or she needs.

If you don’t know of anyone who will be putting up Angel Trees this year, the Marines will continue to sponsor the popular Toys for Tots program this holiday season. It’s the perfect way to bring a smile to child’s face this Christmas.

And I’m not crazy. If you’re like the other millions of Americans struggling to get through this holiday season with your pockets intact, I imagine that it would be a little difficult to scrape together a donation for a cause or charity that you may care about.

If that’s the case, then consider donating your time to a charity, non-profit organization or church.

Whether it’s simply talking with an elderly person at a nursing home for an hour, helping to serve food at a homeless shelter or collecting cans in your neighborhood to take to a community canned food drive, there are dozens of ways that you can help someone out this holiday season. And the best thing about donating time to someone in need -- it won’t cost you a thing, has the biggest impact on the person you are helping and yet, feels the most rewarding.

Christmas is a happy time for some people. But for others, it’s a reminder of what they can’t afford to give to their own family members.

As you get ready to shop for your family and friends during the next few weeks, remember that the holidays should be a time of giving and receiving -- not just within your family, but within your community as well.

Happy holidays.