When you give back to others what you have received, you lift them up, which in turn lifts you. Although you can take this action year-round, the holidays are an excellent time to give back. You can start with your family and friends and business partners but don’t stop there. Extend your giving to your community and the world at large.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” -Charles Dickens

Giving back can be hard at first. You may be asking: how do I know what people need? What should I give? Do I give money or time? What if I don’t know what they will like? Here are some of our thoughts for giving back this holiday season.

While there are so many around us in our community that are suffering from illness and financial burdens, you may be blessed to have many things in your home you do not need. A great way to give back is by donating canned food, toys or clothes to your local homeless shelter or Goodwill. Old office equipment? A desk collecting dust? These things may be obsolete to you, but not to someone else. Turn that in too. This is the type of giving (especially when you’re loading up in your shared office parking lot) that inspires others to give as well.

When the holidays come we tend to think about those we have lost, or those that we miss. We should not only reach out to strangers in our community but also our loved ones. Just a simple phone call or letter of appreciation would mean the world to an old friend or long distance family member. These are genuine ways to show others that you care. Want to inspire a stranger? Pay for a meal, a cup of coffee or the next person in the drive through lane.

When you give back to those around you this holiday, remember the joy that it brings you. Hold on to the memory of this joy so it can prompt you to give back long after the holidays have come and gone.