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Making a difference on Philanthropy Day and beyond

National Philanthropy DayNov. 15 is a day devoted to the notion that to give is to receive.

Philanthropy Day recognizes the importance of giving back.

“I think every act of giving counts—small or big,” says Carrie Culbertson, senior card services representative at Dupaco Community Credit Union’s Pennsylvania branch in Dubuque. “The holidays should bring out the best in all of us, and I think the best in each of us comes by sharing a part of who we are.”

Here are four ways you can make philanthropy a priority every day:

It’s the little things

Culbertson recently helped judge Dupaco’s annual Philanthropy Day poster contest. Dupaco’s youngest members were tasked with illustrating how they give back and help others.

Most children focused on how they treat one another, Culbertson said. They give back by being kind, serving as a better friend, stopping bullying and helping those who are sad.

“I think we need to learn from the kids and be nicer. Respect and kindness can go a long way, and everyone can do it,” Culbertson said. “Maybe we need to think simple again—holding doors, a smile, a ‘hello,’ any kind gesture to another person.”

Share your time and talents

Giving back isn’t always in the form of a check. Seek out opportunities to volunteer your time and talents to organizations and causes that are meaningful to you.

“We focus so much on money and the material things we feel we need,” Culbertson said. “If we give of our time and talents, it can be just as important. As adults, it’s a great lesson to teach our kids.”

Donate together

Of course, there are those in need of tangible items too. Families can work together to clean out their closets and cabinets and donate items to those who need them most.

“I would love to see families work together on providing items to others,” Culbertson said.

Build sharing into your budget

It’s not too late to build sharing into your holiday shopping budget. Many employers, churches and organizations offer opportunities to adopt a family during the holidays.

Starting this month, each time you go shopping, pick up something small that can become part of a bigger gift for a family in need, Culbertson suggested. If you have a bigger gift item in mind, set aside $5 each time you shop. You’ll be surprised how fast those dollars add up. Even the change in your pocket or purse can be used for sharing.

When buying gifts for others, allow your kids to help choose the items so they feel like they are part of the process.

“Each person in the house can contribute, so the gift is truly from the whole family,” Culbertson said. “I think showing kids their wants versus others’ needs can be eye-opening.”

Visit our section on parenting for more ways to teach children to give back.