Give your time this Giving Tuesday

November 23, 2016 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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Consider starting a new tradition by giving your time through volunteerism

When I was young, I ate breakfast at a round glass table in my mom's kitchen. Eating my Cheerios, I stared at a poster that hung on the wall with a quote from Rabindranath Tagore:

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and found that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

That quote, along with the example my mother set of serving children and families in Detroit, shaped my life and aspirations.

Volunteering and giving back is what drives my passion for the work I do leading corporate social responsibility at U.S. Bank. And, it is especially important during the holiday season as according to our recent U.S. Bank Possibility Index, most parents crave more time to spend with their children. Volunteering is a wonderful activity to do as a family.

In a few days we'll celebrate Thanksgiving, then hear about, talk about and perhaps even groan about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The day after that chaos is Giving Tuesday, a day aimed at hitting the pause button on holiday spending and focusing on giving to local nonprofits.

However, it can be overwhelming to consider charitable giving at a time when you’re already spending a bunch of money. In fact, almost half of Americans (42 percent) say they can't afford to give, according to a study conducted by Wakefield Research.

If this resonates with you, as an alternative this year consider giving your time through volunteerism and starting a new holiday tradition by serving together as a family. When my kids were little and it was hard to find volunteer opportunities they could participate in, we started a family tradition of baking for our neighbors and those in need. It is such a simple thing to do in this "selfie" world to show your children how to focus on others. We create a message to attach to the baked goods to explain our tradition and to encourage those we bake for to pay it forward if they can.

Donating your time on Giving Tuesday can be simple. Here are seven examples:

  1. Volunteer to serve a meal at a homeless shelter
  2. Make a home-cooked meal and deliver it to neighbor
  3. Spend a few hours at a nursing home reading to the elderly
  4. Host a clothing drive with colleagues as part of a team-building event
  5. Create care packages for the military
  6. Visit a children’s hospital and design holiday cards with them
  7. Connect with a local non-profit and help restore a local community member’s home

How can you find opportunities?  At sites like VolunteerMatch, for example, you can simply enter your area of interest and zip code and you’ll find family opportunities close to your home and to your hearts.

I encourage you to give back this Giving Tuesday, and share what you're doing on social media using #GivingTues to inspire others to make a difference in our communities.

Reba Dominski is senior vice president and head of corporate social responsibility at U.S. Bank.