The spirit of generosity is always especially strong over the holidays, when we reflect on what we have and feel moved to help others with less. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people unemployed and apart, those efforts are more important than ever. If you’re looking to give back this holiday season, here are eight ways to do it.

1. The Marines’ ‘Toys for Tots’

Remote workers might not have the chance to drop a gift in their companies’ Toys for Tots boxes this year—but it’s easy to join the effort from home offices, too (or anywhere with internet access). The organization’s website features virtual boxes, which you fill with suggested toys based on age ranges. There’s everything from baby dolls and basketballs to art sets and science kits, and you can decide how many items to include before you check out. Toys for Tots workers will take care of shipping and delivery. If you’d like to help a certain Toys for Tots branch in your area, you can search for nearby locations on this map.


Since you’re probably going to buy at least a set or two of holiday cards this year, why not get them from a charitable organization? That’s the idea behind (formerly, a website with greeting cards from more than 230 non-profits—children’s hospitals, animal shelters, and everything in between. Among the hundreds of cards to choose from are recyclable cards, e-cards, cards you can customize with your own photos, and more. To take it a step further, here are some charitable gifts to give this Christmas, from candles to coffee.

3. One Simple Wish

Kids in the foster care system can ask for specific gifts through One Simple Wish, which ballparks the price of the item (shipping and other operational costs included), and publishes it online. While you don’t choose the exact item, you do get to learn about whom it’s going to; Markyaih, for example, is a 9-year-old aspiring schoolteacher who’s hoping for a mannequin head so she can learn how to braid hair. You can browse the whole list or even filter by age, gift category, occasion, and more.

4. Feed the Children

In addition to helping food-insecure children and families on a global scale, Feed the Children also provides disaster relief, teacher supplies, and more. It’s a great charity to donate to right now, since the coronavirus pandemic has left low-income and out-of-work people vulnerable to food insecurity. And as a part of the organization’s current #NoHungerHolidays campaign, vitamin company L’il Critters will match donations up to $50,000. You can learn more and contribute here.

5. The Salvation Army’s ‘Angel Tree’

This year, the Salvation Army partnered with Walmart to set up its Angel Trees in Walmart stores all over the country. That way, customers can choose a tag from the tree, pick out the requested gift, and donate it all in one shopping trip. You can also complete the whole process online: Simply enter your zip code here and you’ll see a list of Salvation Army organizations in your area. Choose “View Registry” for any location, and you’ll be taken to Walmart’s website, where you can purchase products that the Salvation Army will distribute to families in need. Many registries also list Walmart gift cards, if you’re looking to give something a little less specific.

6. Home Instead’s ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’

Similar to the Salvation Army’s Angel Trees, Home Instead’s annual Be a Santa to a Senior tradition involves picking a tag from a tree and buying whatever item is written on it. This venture, however, is specifically for senior citizens who might not otherwise receive gifts. Since older people are a high-risk group for COVID-19 and nursing homes may not be allowing visitors in the coming weeks, the operation is especially important this year—and it’s also gone virtual. You can search for participating seniors in your area and ship items from their Amazon wish lists directly to them.

7. Pay Away the Layaway

Founded in 2011, Pay Away the Layaway is exactly what it sounds like: a charity that pays off people’s layaway balances. The organizers mainly choose families who bought items for kids—clothes, baby products, school supplies, books, toys, etc.—from retailers like Burlington, Kmart, and Walmart. You can donate here.

8. Child’s Play

In 2003, the creators of the Penny Arcade comics collected video games and other toys to donate to Seattle Children’s Hospital, hoping to demonstrate that video games weren’t as bad as the media made them out to be. Seventeen years later, the operation has grown into a full-fledged charity called Child’s Play, which sends items to hospitals and domestic violence shelters all over the U.S. and Canada. You can donate directly to the cause, or you can explore the map of affiliated institutions and send gifts from their Amazon wish lists. It’s not just video games—there are also books, art supplies, DVDs, LEGO sets, and all kinds of other toys and games to choose from.