‘Tis the season of giving! And what better way is there to spread some holiday cheer than by giving back to the communities we come across along the open road? Whether you’re looking to donate your time and efforts to local land or bring a touch of magic to individuals in need, there are a number of ways you can make this the season of paying it forward. From small gestures to big charity plans, read on to discover the best ways you can brighten the world over the holidays.
SHOP LOCALLY FOR YOUR CAMPGROUND HOLIDAY PARTY NEEDS
This is something everyone can do as we prep for our holiday festivities. Skip out on the chain grocery stores and take your grocery list to your local farmers market. It’s a simple way to give right back to the communities you love, even if you’re celebrating away from home in your RV. If you’re planning to eat out, search for local mom-and-pop restaurants to explore. Looking for gifts? Seek out local art, flora, and souvenirs to gift to your loved ones. Every time you make a purchase, take your money directly to the community with local shopping. It’s that simple! When in doubt of where to go, search the internet for family-owned shops, restaurants, and cafes near you.
HOST A HOLIDAY PARTY THAT GIVES BACK
If you’re looking to host a party, why not let the festivities lead the charity? Organize with those you plan to gather with to get three silly holiday costumes… the crazier, the better! Everyone set to attend the party will be in the running for wearing one of the three costumes you’ve picked. Set a number of votes to the dollar amount of your choosing. To keep it simple, a dollar can count as one vote. Leading up to the festivities, attendees have the chance to purchase votes for who they think should wear the silly costumes for the party. A bidding war will begin as your friends and family will do what it takes to keep from wearing the costumes. At your cut-off date (a day before the party), announce the ‘winners’ and allow the third-place winner to pick their silly costume, then second, then first place will be stuck with what’s left. This is a lively chance to collect some cash for the cause of your choice! You’ll get everyone in on giving back while having a holiday blast!
PLANT TREES AS YOU BROSWE THE WEB
Yes, that’s absolutely possible. As you browse the web for gift ideas, search for prices, and open tabs to compare options, every search you make can impact the cause for conservation. Replace your current browser with Ecosia and the search engine profits you contribute to will go directly into planting trees across the world. All you have to do is carry on with your browsing! Over 139 million trees have been planted with Ecosia, and their statistics share that it takes approximately 1.3 seconds for users to plant a tree. You can add Ecosia to your phone too! Unlike most other search engines, Ecosia keeps your data safe and doesn’t sell user data to advertisers or third-party trackers. Click here to learn more about this amazing organization and to share it with all of your friends and family. This is a cause you can carry through the new year and on. You can watch your impact grow as a counter at the top of the search engine page keeps track of your virtual contributions.
VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME TO A NEARBY NATIONAL PARK
The National Park Service is always open to a helping hand in keeping our lands adventure-ready. The Volunteers-In-Parks (VIP) program offers a broad range of opportunities to give back, from specialized positions to all-welcome tasks. Who says you can’t enjoy the holiday season in five-star scenery while making your mark of positivity for mother nature? While most parks welcome drop-in volunteering every weekday through the end of the year, you can plan ahead by checking in on the upcoming volunteer event calendar or by reaching out to a National Park near you. Keep in mind — the duration of most volunteer sessions is six hours, so be sure to strap on your best hiking boots before getting involved! More specialized programs include artist-in-residence gigs, citizen science studies, and Amtrak trails education. If you find yourself falling in love with the experience, you’re always welcome back with a chance to earn a National Park Volunteer Pass with 250 hours of accumulated service!
BRING RELIEF TO HURRICANE AFFECTED COMMUNITIES
A number of states along the gulf are prone to severe hurricane weather every year, leaving families with little to rebuild their lives through the holiday season. The most devastating occurrences have long left their marks on recovering communities, leaving victims to struggle for basic needs such as clean water, food supply, electric power, housing, and employment. The American Red Cross provides an annual list of Gulf Coast hurricanes that have battered neighborhoods, along with an array of ways you can lend a helping hand. Whether you wish to donate, volunteer, or start a fundraiser, your contributions would no doubt brighten the holiday season for those struggling to get by after a natural disaster.
ADOPT A SHELTER ANIMAL IN HEED
If you’re thinking of surprising the kids or your partner with a furry best friend for the holidays, why not make your opt for adoption twice the blessing by rescuing a shelter pet? Whether you’re looking for an adventure-pal to take along on your RV travels or seeking a fluffy companion to keep you company while you work remotely from your recreation vehicle there are plenty of cats and pups in need of a forever home. Take your family to a local shelter and you’re sure to fall in love with one of the many pets available for adoption. If you’re not quite ready to take in a fur baby, you can also donate to help animal rescue continue its efforts to save abused and abandoned animals. Visit the Humane Society to assist animals in emergency situations with a dollar amount of your choice! Red Rover is also a great resource for those who wish to get hands-on with volunteer work.
SPREAD CHEER TO THE SENIOR COMMUNITY
Your home-on-wheels serves as the perfect vehicle to serve some magic through Meals on Wheels. This organization has been delivering food to seniors in need for decades. You can amp up the cheer by bringing a holiday gift and greeting card from your travels as you bring along a fresh meal. Bring some much-needed face-time and conversation by sharing your stories. You can also help by donation, but nothing beats the fulfillment of volunteering your time and love to those who don’t have a family to share the holidays with. Click here to find a community in need near you. If you personally know a senior that’s in need of some company over the holidays, be sure to invite them over to share some camper-style memories!
SKIP THE GADGETS AND GIVE AN ALTERNATIVE GIFT
One passion all campers have in common is our love for mother earth. If you’re stuck on deciding what to give an outdoorsy buddy or family member, why not give back to their favorite cause? Alternative Gifts is an organization that allows you to pick a cause by location and goal to donate in the name of a loved one. From planting trees and economic development to hunger relief, education, and more, you can personalize your gift of charity as you wish. You already know what your friends and family members are most passionate about! An e-card will be sent on the day of your donation, with the option to print as a card insert too. Go crazy on the presentation of your gift and craft something to show your shared passion to better the world. Contributing to conservation? Gift the card with a potted plant or a set of seeds to nurture and grow. Feeding the hungry? Create a recipe card (samples are always encouraged!) of your favorite dish to share with friends on the road. Funding education? Include an educational book from your local National Park and present the charity card as a bookmark! There are plenty of ways you can make your donation an unforgettable one to give.
GIFT WRAPPING FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS
Are you the crafty sort who loves to get creative with gift wrapping? You might be surprised to know that your RV makes for the perfect spot for making a magical Santa’s workshop. If you’re visiting family over the holidays, you can help hide gifts from the kids that love to scrounge through the best hiding spots around the house. You also have the benefit of a separate and lock-safe space to help family members prep their presents for Christmas. If you’re planning to wander through the holiday, your campground neighbors will love the helping hand too! This makes for a great opportunity to bond with fellow campers across the country as you band together to bring some Christmas cheer to their travel families. Transform your dinette into a gift wrap station, your under-bed storage will keep gifts hidden and out of the way as you work, and your closet cubby will keep your bags, bows, and wrapping paper. If you want to add a bit more holiday magic to the plan, organize an affordable gift exchange with your campground neighbors!
TAKE YOUR RV TO A FOOD OR GIFT DRIVE
Speaking of the ample storage space found in motorhomes, you’ve got the opportunity to tow along plenty of non-perishable food and/or gifts to families in need. Seek out a local food bank or gift drive and pack up some goodies you’ve collected along your travels! If you have a network of campers you can get in touch with, or are currently traveling with a caravan, you can host your own food drive too! Visit Feeding America to connect with a local food bank of your choice and to set the dates of your own drive. If you have more RVing friends across the country, you can set up for a virtual food drive too! You’ll be pleased to see how much you can collect with the friends you’ve made along your travels.
While you’re searching the web (and planting trees) for the perfect gift ideas for your fellow adventures, be sure to check out our full guide of the 15 Best Stocking Stuffers for RVers to help cross some names off your Christmas gift-list! This list is the perfect starting point and just might inspire a whole new gift idea you haven’t considered.