Christmas is for Giving: 6 Ideas to Help Your Community

Neighborhood watch sign One way to give back this holiday season is to organize a neighborhood watch — it boosts safety and home values. Image: Liz Foreman for HouseLogic

It’s better to give than to receive, so take a look at these ideas for giving back this holiday season.

If the holiday spirit has inspired you to do something meaningful, try taking on a community-wide project. Your work will benefit your whole neighborhood, and you might even boost your own home’s value with one of these six community-friendly ventures:

  • Help keep the Grinch from stealing Christmas by starting a neighborhood watch. Launch your crime-fighting efforts with a holiday potluck dinner.
  • Take your mind off the long, cold winter with thoughts of spring gardening. Planning and starting a community garden can bring the whole neighborhood together. Double your garden’s benefit by donating extra produce to a food bank.
  • Coordinate your holiday shopping among a group of friends or neighbors and you could end up with enough new tools to start a tool-sharing co-op that lets everyone lend and borrow from a group of tools.
  • It’s too late to start a Christmas tree recycling program this year, but you could definitely pull it off in time for next year.
  • The foreclosure crisis has left families homeless, lowered the value of surrounding homes, and flummoxed federal efforts to resolve it. You can fight foreclosures as an individual or work at the community level to solve the problem.
  • If you live in a neighborhood of older homes, getting your neighborhood an historic district designation gives future generations the gift of preserved history. A house within the borders of a historic district can gain thousands in value, so this project could benefit your personal bottom line as well as your neighbors’.

My mother loved to give to others all year long, but especially at Christmas. Having grown up on a rural Alabama farm during the Depression, she got a kick out of “giving” goats, chickens, and other farm animals to everyone on her Christmas gift list through a charity called Heifer International that helps you donate farm animals to needy families around the globe.

My mother also loved Habitat for Humanity. What do you think is the best holiday charity gift?