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I've already been thinking about the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Trying to sneak in every piece of the holiday magic. I've been making the mental checklists. The family Christmas cards should be out by the first week in December. Whose house are we going to for Thanksgiving? I need to make a list of baking supplies. And how early is really too early to listen to Bing Crosby croon White Christmas or watch Will Ferrell eat spaghetti noodles, syrup and candy corn in Elf?

Those mental checklists always wear me out every year and I don't enjoy the actual holiday as much as I want to. So this season I'm going to start things a little differently.

  1. I will say no to things. I don't have to do everything and I shouldn't because it all ends up becoming one big blur instead of a memory.
  2. I will be ok with a messy house.
  3. I will spend time without an agenda which means I will be ok when certain things don't get done.
  4. I will write a list of things I'm thankful for.
  5. I will give my time this season. Time to my family and friends and time to those who can't give me anything in return.

I worked in a homeless shelter a couple years ago and the need for basic necessities was great all year long, but it seemed particularly acute during the holidays. I want to make it a priority this year to spend part of my time and resources on those who could use it more than me.

If you and your family are looking to give back this season, below is a list of ideas along with a sampling of regional and national nonprofits. Choose organizations that you and your family are care about. What organizations are you passionate about? Do you know of organizations that are in need of volunteers this season? Please post them in the comments below.

Giving Back Ideas

  • Adopt a homeless family for Christmas by providing food and gifts
  • Help deliver Thanksgiving dinners
  • Help stock a food bank
  • Send Christmas cards to troops overseas
  • Purchase a Christmas present for a child whose parent is incarcerated
  • Help serve dinner at a homeless shelter
  • Ring the bell for the red kettle
  • Donate money to provide food during the winter
  • Donate warm clothes to clothing drives
  • Bring nonperishable food to a food drive
  • Send care packages to cancer patients
  • Spend time with the elderly
  • Donate blood
  • Donate your time and talents to a nonprofit. If you're a photographer, volunteer to take family portraits for those who can't afford it. If you're a carpenter, volunteer to help with projects around a non-profit.

Omaha and Lincoln Area Non-Profits

Homeless Shelters

Open Door Mission
Omaha, NE

Siena/Francis House
Omaha, NE

Stephen Center
Omaha, NE

People's City Mission
Lincoln, NE

Food Banks

Food Bank of the Heartland
Omaha, NE

Food Bank of Lincoln
Lincoln, NE


Toys for Tots

Angel Tree

Care Packages for Servicemen

Operation Gratitude

Disaster Assistance & Blood Donation

American Red Cross

General Assistance

Heartland Hope Mission
Omaha, NE

Hope Center
Omaha, NE

Salvation Army
Omaha, NE

Assisting the Elderly

Community 360
Omaha, NE


Carolyn Kruger


Carolyn is an editor and promotions manager for ParentSavvy. She has enjoyed seeing the site grow from its infancy to its toddler stage. (And, yes, there have been growing pains in the whole process.) Carolyn was born and raised in Omaha and is thankful that such a unique site calls Omaha home. When not editing content, Carolyn can be found with her family and friends scouring local neighborhoods for untasted restaurants or exploring new stories at the movie theater. ...

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