“The holiday season is about love! Share it. Spread it. Live it.” This line by bestselling author Amy Leigh Mercree seems to beautifully capture the essence of this time of the year - when the air is festive and the spirits are high. The holiday season gives many of us a lot to be thankful for. And in the spirit of gratitude, we asked some of our ShootDotEdit customers to share their ways to give back around the holidays and throughout the year. The responses were not only heartwarming, but they also highlighted the idea that generosity comes in many forms. So if you want to express your gratitude through good deeds and kind gestures, you could draw inspiration from the list we are honored to put together in this blog for you!
Ways To Give Back This Holiday Season
The holiday season is not only a time to get together with our near and dear ones but also an opportunity to spread the joy around and play our little role in bringing some cheer into the lives of those who are less fortunate than us. And especially in the post-pandemic world ravaged by the COVID-19 crisis, the holiday season could be our perfect excuse to give back to the society and the community that builds and supports us.
1. DONATING TO CHARITY
Donating to charity is one way of ensuring that your aids reach those that need them most. There are many big and small charitable organizations that work on a diverse range of issues from supporting marginalized groups to actively seeking environmental amendments. You could pick a cause close to your heart and do your bit by contributing financial aid to the trust or organization engaged with it. If you are looking to donate to charity too, you could check out these charitable organizations that made to Forbes' Top Charities list in 2020. And if you are still looking to understand the broader categories and heads under which you could contribute in a meaningful way, Giving USA has a list that could help you make up your mind - from donating to educational and health organizations and providing monetary help to environmental and animal welfare groups to lending financial support to the fields of arts and culture, there are a multitude of causes that could benefit from one little thoughtful gesture that you take.
2. OFFERING YOUR TIME
When we think of ways to give back to society, many of us might primarily think in terms of monetary aids, but offering your time to a social cause that you believe in could also be deeply rewarding. While you could always support charitable causes financially, remember that taking part in a cleanliness drive or volunteering to spend a day with those in their sunset years at an elderly care home is a great opportunity to get involved with a cause at a personal level or make that human connection and touch many hearts.
3. GIVING TO PEOPLE WITH MEDICAL CONDITIONS
For many of us, donning a new look is a great way to get into the celebratory mood of the festive season. Are you going in for a brand new hairdo to ring in the holidays? How about you donate the crop of hair that you snip at the salon to a group that makes wigs for those undergoing cancer treatment and coping with the trauma of post-chemotherapy hair loss? Or, how about signing up for a blood donation drive so that someone running from pillar to post for a matching blood group gets a shot in the arm?
4. OFFERING PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES
As a professional photographer, what makes you most happy? Taking those stellar images, of course! And helping your clients create memories for a lifetime. What if we say that you could use this very talent of yours to add a spark of joy in the lives of other people. A charitable trust that you are attached with is holding an event? Offer to be their official photographer for free and help them spread the word about the good work that they are doing. An orphanage is celebrating Christmas? Capture the happy, smiling faces of the little angels and spread some joy in their lives. Simple, isn’t it?
5. SHARE YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Building a community that thrives on a culture of learning and knowledge sharing could be deeply rewarding as well. Imagine giving people the opportunity to identify with your passion and line of work and nurturing their talent as well. You could even conduct free photography workshops for underprivileged kids and help them inculcate a new hobby, or who knows, even plant the passion of photography by nurturing budding photographers. That way, you’d also help your community of photographers grow and channelize young minds to pursue a creative profession.
6. OFFERING SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY
While giving back to society through your talent is a great way to make a difference in your own little way, not all of the giving back needs to revolve around photos. There are many ways to volunteer in your communities in unique and non-photo-based ways. Begin by thinking about what some of your hobbies are. Maybe you were a high school basketball champ, but never got a chance to be on the basketball court since you left school amid the humdrum of building your career and establishing yourself in your profession. Take this opportunity and pick up that ball and head to the local elementary school and offer to coach their basketball team as a goodwill gesture. Are you the life of all the house parties because you create magic with your guitar? Then how about accompanying the kids at your neighborhood community center for some musical sessions during Christmas? Sounds like a great idea to us to offer music lessons for free and welcome the holidays on a great note - quite literally!
7. HOLDING CHARITY AUCTIONS
8. HELP WITH LOCAL FUNDRAISING
Sometimes you support a cause through financial aids, and sometimes you could actively associate yourself with the cause by participating in their various fundraising drives. Offering time to the community by participating in fundraising programs is also a way to show that you care. Even a gift card can be a huge help toward raising money for charities offering aid to, for example, disaster relief or underfunded medical research projects.
9. SUPPORT BUSINESSES THAT GIVE BACK
It’s the holiday season, and to soak in the festive spirit, you might follow the tradition of exchanging gifts with your loved ones. You might also indulge in some eating out and gorging on all the festive delicacies on offer. When you purchase gifts, we recommend that you start by shopping locally. Or have a meal at the local restaurant. You could even partner with the local business and hold cross-promotion as a way of giving back to the local community. And if you want to feel good about your festive purchases, there are many businesses that donate a portion of their profit to charitable initiatives. When you pick such brands to do your festive shopping, you not only celebrate the holiday gifting custom, but you also shop with an intent. And that, according to us, is also a great way of giving back!
10. SPREAD THE GOOD WORD
Thanks to your profession, as a photographer you might meet plenty of new people during the course of your work and even have a large pool of contacts. Maybe you could put this resource to use to create a wide-reaching impact in your community as small business owners and community leaders. You could even use your social media platforms to encourage others to donate.
HERE’S HOW SOME OF OUR CUSTOMERS GIVE BACK
Over the years, we have had the opportunity to closely work with a lovely community of photographers. Through the course of our collaboration, we’ve had an enriching stint of exchanging ideas and experiences. And here’s what some of them had to share with us on how they give back to the community.
You don’t always need to resort to grand gestures as a way to give back. Robb McCormick of Robb McCormick Photography annually donates gift cards to local charities and silent auctions.
“Something as simple as a gift card can be a huge help to fundraising efforts.”
– Robb McCormick of Robb McCormick Photography
Dana Dorn with Lovers of Love Photography gives to an organization called Compassion International.
“Our business supports two children who live in Haiti and during the holidays, we gift more money to provide them with a Christmas gift. We also regularly give to an organization called Outside The Bowl - a kitchen that feeds families in Mexico.”
– Dana Dorn with Lovers of Love Photography
Joseph McFetridge with Love by Joe Mac enjoys volunteering his time as a way to give back to the community.
“Giving back is such an important part of owning a business. Each year, especially during the winter months, I donate my time to photograph animals in shelters to help them get adopted. I also do photos or donate portrait sessions for charity auctions for organizations like Qunify, I’m From Driftwood, and Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus. As a member of the LGBT community, I want to give back to help others in my community grow and succeed.”
– Joseph McFetridge with Love by Joe Mac
Brent Looyenga with Looyenga Photography volunteers his time in the community in a unique and non-photo-based way.
“I volunteer my time as a local youth pastor, which is a huge passion of mine, and help by coaching a high school basketball team. Basketball is perfect because it’s during my slower season.”
– Brent Looyenga with Looyenga Photography
Katie Van Buren with Van Buren Photography feels that donating to charity auctions is a great way to give back to society and connect with the local community.
“We always give to local schools for their silent auctions. It has been a great way to give back to our community, share our brand, and meet more local families.”
– Katie Van Buren with Van Buren Photography
Amy Bennett with Amy Bennett Photography has used her talent to take powerful images of children and teens diagnosed with cancer to capture their smiles and document their stories of courage.
“I have worked in the past with the fabulous organization, Flashes of Hope.”
– Amy Bennett with Amy Bennett Photography
Diane Clifford with Diane Nicole Photography uses her platform to encourage others to donate.
“I’m asking people to bring a small gift that is suited for children. It could be wrapped or unwrapped, and I am bringing them to our local boys and girls club. For those who bring a gift, they will be put into a drawing to win a $250 gift card to my business towards a session or if they want to give it to someone else as a gift.”
– Diane Clifford with Diane Nicole Photography
MAKE THE GESTURES COUNT
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @loversoflove
To quote yet another contemporary author and speaker Julieanne O'Connor, “It's not about presents but it is about your presence. Therein lies the spirit of the holiday season.” We couldn’t agree more! Whatever be the size of your gift box, if it’s wrapped in love and kindness, little else counts. Because when your heart is in the right place, however big or small your budget is, that is enough to spark some joy and bring some warmth to someone else’s life. Also, remember that while it is true that the holiday season is synonymous with gifting and giving back to express gratitude and be thankful, giving back doesn’t have to come around Christmas alone. Because any time is a good time to give back! And with so many ways to give back to society, we hope our entire photography community can get in the spirit of giving by donating time, talent, or treasure this holiday season. Happy holidays from everyone here at ShootDotEdit!
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