5 Ways to Give Back This Christmas AND $100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!

Thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring this post and encouraging others to give back! 

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a philanthropist? To approach an organization doing good and just drop like 50 grand in their lap? I mean how amazing would it be to be a part of something doing that much good–to get to be that generous and really make a difference in the world?

I may never get to experience being that generous, but there are so many ways I–an ordinary wife, mom, and woman– can give back. Right now, there is something really cool going on called the Bakken Invitation Program. Medtronic’s founder,  Earl Bakken, began the program to promote philanthropic work and giving back, especially by those who have been given a second lease on life.  Ten honorees from all over the world that have overcome incredible health challenges recieved a grant of $20,000 toward their charitable work! These folks, just when they had a right to curl up and cocoon themselves away, did just the opposite. They gave.

Live On. Give On.

One of my favorite honorees, David had to undergo a crazy, scary surgery (read more about him here) and as he was wheeled in he thought “What is your legacy? How will you be remembered by your kids?” That thought inspired him to start living his legacy by founding the IronHeart racing team empower and educate others to live a heart-healthy life!

“Success can be determined based on three pillars of how you live your life. First is family. Next is your career. Finally, there is your greater community. Success comes with commitment. Are you providing a safe, nurturing sustainable environment? Do you show love? Do you show dedication? It’s not about working 100 hours a week. Instead, it’s about your actions in the time allowed. Be present in the moment. Live your legacy.”

Those words really hit me because I became a mom this year. And I don’t want to put my life on hold for my daughter–I want to live it fully and well because of her! I want her to have a legacy and example of generosity and faith in big and small ways.  I have loved giving back to the many communities I’ve lived in by volunteering. I think it’s hugely important, but honestly it is hard at this stage of my life; but, even so I can find simple ways to give on and live on–leaving a legacy for my daughter.  

5 Simple Ways to Give Back This Christmas

1. Donate to a local food pantry. It is so easy to throw a few extra groceries in the cart for a local pantry or many groceries have gift cards available that you can just scan and they automatically make a donation to a local pantry. Cost: $5-10 Time: 0-10 minutes (I already get groceries and go to a church with a food pantry so it literally takes me no extra time.)

Give on: groceries for food pantry

2. Pick up trash when you’re out on a walk or run. I HATE when people throw trash on the ground! Whenever I’m on a walk I try to grab a plastic grocery bag so I can nab trash if I see it while I’m walking. If you have a dog or baby this is especially easy because you are probably carrying a bag anyways. Cost: $0 Time: 0-2 minutes

3. Be a part of a fundraising event (like a run or dinner) as a volunteer or participant. In a previous job, I planned a charity run and while I loved the big sponsors, I was so incredibly grateful for EVERY participant and every volunteer holding a dixie cup of water! I especially loved the ones who recruited all their friends and family to come with them! In your community there might be spaghetti dinners for the fire dpeartment or fundraising concerts for the school band. Go to those things and enjoy the fun while giving back! Cost: $10-25 (but you’ve got to eat, run races, and buy flowers, anyways right?) Time: 1-3 hours

K5K Race Recap

4. Buy Christmas gifts for a local family or child. Last year my office took our Christmas party fund and used most of it to shop for presents for a local family that hit a rough spot. It was so much fun to shop and wrap presents together and know that we were blessing this family in an incredible way! Getting gifts for a whole family may be a big financial commitment, but you can make a difference for one child. There are lots of angel trees and toy donation boxes around right now. How about picking up one extra toy while you shop? Cost: $15+ Time: 30 minutes-2 hours

5. Pack an Operation Christmas Child box. This is a holiday tradition in our house and we love kicking off November (the gifts have already been shipped this year) looking for the perfect little gifts for a child overseas. Nate and I actually filled our shoebox during our November date night! It was fun picking out little things for a child who otherwise would have nothing.  Cost: $25 Time: 30 minutes-1 hour


$100 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

Not only did Medtronic give the honorees $20,000 to help support their foundations, but it is teaming up with me to give YOU a chance to win a $100 gift card to be used to make a positive impact in your community!  Isn’t that awesome! I kind of feel like Oprah!

To enter please comment and tell me which story most inspired you and how you give back to your loved ones and community. 

Winner will be drawn at random on December 29th. Must be 18 to enter and have valid U.S. mailing address.

The giveaway is now closed. Winner is commenter #12, Tara @ DailyDoseofFit chosen via random.org. Thanks for participating!

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  1. I donate to my local food bank regularly and give to the charities that care for the elderly in our hospices. Thank you for the chance 🙂

  2. So important to give back during the holidays! I always try to find ways to financially donate to a cause I care about, as well as volunteer my time and services. I loved the question from Rajnikant Reshamwala on the Medtronic page, who says “Ask yourself: Can I help? Then why not do it?” SO true!!!

  3. Lucilla Bossi’s story is most inspiring to me! I give back to my community by donating to our local canned food drives. I also donate clothing and toys to our local shelter.

  4. Haruko Sato inspires me the most. Her determination of getting better and helping others is so powerful and really resonated with me. I am going to donate to food shelves and adopt a family to help with holiday wishes.

  5. Haruko Sato’s story inspires me the most and I give back by donating different items to charity like toys during the holidays or food/clothing year round.

  6. Gretchen Merritt most inspired me and what I do to give back is donate or give out personally handmade jewelry, I do this every year at XMAS, I also give extra food and other items to Goodwill or Freecyle year round. I also sponsor a soldier.

  7. Clint Doyle’s story is perfect. It’s so hard to overcome your own physical disabilities, let alone work to inspire others! In previous years, we used to always adopt a few “angels” from the Angel tree and give to our neighbors. Because of limited resources, both physical and monetarily, we give on a smaller scale by donating to local programs and helping when we are able. Merry Christmas!

  8. I was moved by Samantha Petersen’s story she is so brave. I give back to my community by donating to local charities and animal shelters.

  9. I regularly volunteer at a local elementary school and I help others improve their function as a physical therapist by trade. I was most inspired by SAMANTHA PETERSEN’s story because I work with people with scoliosis.

  10. Wait, I have to pick just one inspiring story? Impossible! Thank you for reminding me that I need to be more giving with my time and money…we used to buy Christmas presents for children in need when WE were kids, but we’ve since moved away from that tradition. I think maybe it’s something I need to introduce my kids to doing each year!

  11. #4 really hit home with me. I had my first child this past February. I’m a single mom and knew I needed to make some changes in order to provide for me and my son so I started couponing. Because of all of the money I have saved I was able to help another mother purchase presents for her daughter as well as buying presents for my sons first Christmas. Its an incredible feeling of accomplishment.

  12. All of them are so inspiring! Gretchen Merritt’s story caught my eye, though. She lives such a full life, despite her condition. I was impressed by her words “What makes you angry? Work to change that… Start small and see where opportunities lead you.” Society’s problems are so big and many: it’s easy to feel helpless and say ‘what can I possibly do to change things’. But an avalanche is made up of countless tiny snowflakes.

  13. Haruko Sato’s story inspired me the most! Especially her words of inspiration, “Bloom where God has planted you.” No matter where you are in life, you are there for a reason and you just have to shine in that spot! It’s just such a good reminder as I sit in my cubicle!
    This year I did the Operation Christmas child as well! And I also am involved in the Big Brother Big Sister program and love to give back through that! Plus hanging out with a 6 year old reminds me of how simple life really is!

    1. Sorry, this form made my words jump so fast earlier.
      I meant to say that David Watkins story inspired me. Thank You.

  14. I was most inspired by Gretchen’s story and I give back to the community by volunteering with our after school program.

  15. Lucilla Bossi story inspired me the most, I love how she lets nothing stop her from giving back to others, I would love to use this gift card to donate food to our local shelter.

  16. I thought Krystal Boyea’s story was really inspiring since my mother struggles with diabetes, and I don’t hear that much about it on the news or anything. I give back to my community by volunteering at the food shelter and domestic violence survivor shelter. I try to help my parents every day as well.

  17. Joans story was most inspiring to me – and I donate monthly to our local food shelter, and to the women and children’s shelter anytime I have the money or products to give.

  18. I love Samantha Petersen’s story. It inspires me to change how I feel about obstacles in my like, esp overwhelming ones. Also to encourage others. I like to give back to my community by making fabric flower accessories for disadvantaged girls, troubled teens and home bound seniors. I also sew fleece mittens for the mitten drives in winter. I try to make each pair special so that the people receiving them will feel special.

  19. I like David Watkins story as I also wonder how I will be remembered. I see people standing in the cold waiting at the Lord’s Diner that serves a hot meal to anyone, every day and that breaks my heart, so I donated some of my Christmas bonus to that organization. I would hate for anyone to not get that meal every day.

    1. That is awesome Susan! I agree I can’t imagine the feeling of not knowing where your next meal was coming from. We are truly blessed.

  20. I loved these stories and found Raj’s to be so inspiring! He is unstoppable and what a great man to bring comfort to little children. We “adopted” a family this Christmas to give the children presents and had a party for them all. Each one of them is a foster child and their foster parents give everything they have to care for them.

  21. I like Gretchen Merrit story. I give back by donating to the food bank and giving donations to charity’s.

  22. Def most inspired by Samantha Petersen! How courageous she is!! We really take for granted how healthy we are, every day, not having to deal with disabilities.. Makes me want to thank God more.

  23. They’re all inspirational but I did like Samantha Petersen’s story because she is only in her teens but shows such maturity in the face of some very tough circumstances. She saw the situation as an opportunity to help others that were struggling with scoliosis. I bought and donated a few sleds to give as Christmas gifts to local children in need and throughout the year I give nonperishable food and toiletries to aid local homeless shelters.

  24. Igor Chamilla’s story inspires me.
    I like his philosophy when you teach your learn.
    And I give back by volunteering for Emergency Services in the clothing program.
    thank you

  25. Lucilla Bossi’s story is most inspiring to me! I give back to my community by donating to our local canned food drives, buying the grocery sacks at Krogers, donating clothing and toys to our local shelter, gifts to the Charis House.

  26. Gretchen Merritt’s story is inspiring to me. I have friends and family members with Type 1 Diabetes and know how difficult it can be to control. I really admire her work with Freedom Firm to help victims of sex trafficking in India. My family and I try to make a difference by collecting food for food boxes to be given to needy families during the holidays.

  27. Joan’s story inspired me. I liked her comment where she said,”do something to help others, to make the world a bit better” that’s what I want to do so we are becoming foster parents. Our family does operation Christmas child and we donate to a local food pantry. And it’s a pet peeve of mine to see trash on the ground so I love to pick up trash I see on the ground. It always feels good to give to others.

  28. The story that really inspired me was Joan Talkowsky. Even with heart problems, she has given so much of herself. My family and I donate to our local Food Bank to give back to our community.

  29. Krystal Boyea’s story was inspiring to me. Being diabetic is a struggle, but I hope some day to be able to share my lessons and successes with someone else and be an encouragement to them. I like giving to kids who are going on short term mission trips to encourage them to look outside of their own backyard and see the needs of those around the world. And when I go through the McDonald’
    s drive through I always drop my change in the Ronald McDonald house box. I know first hand what a ministry
    the Ronald McDonald houses have for parents of children who are hospitalized.

  30. Rajnikant’s story inspired me! Helping homeless children is wonderful!

    I would donate the $100 visa gift card to teachers to help purchase needed school supplies for their classrooms! Thank you for the chance!

  31. MY husband Michael organization helps boys ages 7-18 by teaching them brotherhood, leadership and giving back to their community. They have the youth help organize donations to the Houston Food Bank, donate food baskets to needy families and help with the Toys for Tots program with Representative Jackson Lee in Houston, Texas. The organization website that my husband help to create is http://www.txkop.org. Thanks and Happy Holidays and a blessed New Year!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Tracy! That is awesome! Could you also please visit the site and tell me which story most resonates with you to complete your entry? Thanks!

  32. I was most inspired by Gretchen’s story and I give back to the community by volunteering at a soup kitchen twice and month.

  33. I was most inspired by Rajnikant Reshamwala’s story. I like that his giving has been a lifetime of giving and not just a season. I like that though he had health setbacks and is getting old, he continues to give the same, if not more.
    Most of my time these days is given to my children, so I’m unable to serve in some of my favorite ways that I have in the past, such as by serving at a food pantry. But my husband and I do enjoy living on less so we can give abundantly. I also helped my daughter pick out a gift to give through the World Vision gift catalogue. I love giving best through ways where I can actually interact with people, though.

  34. i like krystals story because she is already doing so much for her community. The grant would really help her with supplies for the clinic and toold to educate the islanders about diabeties. I would love to win to give to my local homeless shelter there are just so many homeless in my city and they could really use the funds to buy food and other supplies.

  35. I really enjoyed the being part of a fundraising event story & idea! I have done 2 walks previously. I walked in October for Breast cancer and awareness. My grand mom suffered through breast cancer and thank goodness she is now a survivor. I also think that walking regularly is wonderful for your body as well as your heart. This past 6 months I battled my scale and won. By walking 2 miles a day (brisk morning walks) and changing a few key points in my diet I managed to loose 40 lbs. I really hope more people join in on these fundraiser events, not only are they helping the cause they’re also helping themselves and their health!! It’s a win win!! You have a Happy & Healthy New Year!!

    1. That is so great Dana! Could you also please visit the site and tell me which story most resonates with you to complete your entry? Thanks!

  36. I love Joan’s story. Constitent small acts of kindness blossom into life changing events. Everyone can do something small to brighten someone’s day. You may be the only kind thing someone experiances, and that can speak loudly and clearly. This may lead to many opportunities to share our “why” we serve others.
    Being loving and selfless are always welcome actions, anyplace, anytime, to anyone, for any reason. Hopefully because of your kindness, they will pass it forward a a bless someone else as well.

  37. The story that most inspired me was David Watkins. I give back by donating to food, money, and clothes to my local shelter.

  38. Sports have been a huge part of my life so David Watkins’ story was really beautiful to me. I would use the money towards buying additional teaching materials for the underprivileged kids I teach tennis to.

  39. Clent Benson’s story was one of my favorites. I thought everyone’s story was beautiful and really love how each individual faced their obstacles with strength and courage. I love that he is living life to it’s fullest and also helping our younger generation discover their passions.
    I volunteer at a shelter close to my home and love and appreciate the relationships that I have built there. I love hosting small events for them and would use the money towards creating more care packages for families in need.

  40. Haruko believes everyone has a mission in life. Hers is to build awareness of dystonia and to support other dystonia patients
    Haruko Sato inspires me the most because although she has been affected by dystonia, she doesnt let it define her, rather she takes it andd uses it as a springboard to help others all over the world. People with dystonia feel alone and isolated, she has centered hersself around not being alone but connecting with others.
    We give back to our community in several different ways.. we volunteer at a food giveaway site and help serve meals. I am an avid gardener and give some of what was bessed to me back to the food bank. We also love giving to Toys for Tots . Theres a long story involved there but years ago when I was a child our family got toys and I will never forget them.
    I also do TNR and socialize kittens out of pocket and maintain a feral cat colony (TNR is trap nueter release) I have done that well over 20 years .
    We do quite a but, and try to do more. So many people are hurting, and although we have little it is a pleasure to do what we can. I would use the extra money to buy more seeds for the garden so we can give more of the bounty of the earth.

  41. I have known a lot of people close to me that have been diagnosed with diabetes. Krystal’s story really touched me because I do feel like diabetes is one of those “hidden” diseases. You can’t physically spot it but it’s one that can be very deadly if not treated properly. I love that Krystal has become a voice for people with the disease and is really putting her efforts into one location and doing as much as she can there.
    The people that I surround myself with constantly inspire me to give back. I’ve always been involved in community service activities and I have found my passion in working with underprivileged Hispanic children. I participated in the immersion program in my elementary school and I love the language and am thrilled to be able to help with translations and providing tutoring services etc. I would use the $100 to purchase teaching materials for the kids! – Marie (mijulin[at]cox[dot]net)

  42. Clint inspired me with the way he uses his creative gifts to help others. I used to run a non-profit theatre focusing on children. Now a caregiver, I have very little money, so Clints story was a great reminder that I have other ways to share and care.
    I do give what I can to local charities and I can always share a smile and a kind word with those who seem so in need.

  43. Gretchen Merritt’s story inspired me the most because in spite of her peronal challenge, she has the energy to fight a huge unjustice in this world. I think she is incredibly unselfish that she works so hard to fight against something that she hasn’t been a victim of personally! I give blood to help give back to my community, also food goods and I volunteer for different causes every now and then. Thanks for the chance!

  44. Joan Talkowsky’s words, “Take one little step out of your immediate circle” resonated with me. I went on my first missions trip 3 years ago, and wish I’d gone much earlier in my life. I also made friends with a young neighbor who lives with difficult circumstances, and volunteered at our church’s outreach program when I was not quite comfortable with the idea. At this season in my life I have time and enough money to be able to share, so I try to give back with what I have been given. I don’t want to live my life only for myself.

  45. 4. Buy Christmas gifts for a local family or child.
    This one because this is what we do we established a non profit organization to help give back its called sos secret santa of somerset

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