The weather is getting colder, summer clothes are being packed away, and the days are getting shorter. The change in seasons signifies something else: the holidays are coming.
This festive time of year is all about eating too much, giving to those you love, and spending time with family. When this time of year rolls around, you may be thinking about Black Friday shopping, gift giving, and maybe even the perfect gift for your own fuzzy family members.
Unfortunately for many animals, this time of year doesn’t signify anything particularly special. No one is out there finding the softest dog bed or coziest cat tree for many animals without homes. However, there are ways to incorporate animals in need into your holiday gift giving. Whether you’re donating an adoption fee or volunteering your time, you can help animals in need during the holiday season.
Adopt a Species
One way to incorporate animals in need into your holiday gift giving is to adopt a species for someone on your gift giving list. One way to do this is through organizations like the World Wildlife Fund where you adopt a species and in exchange, you receive a stuffed animal, information on that species, and a photo. This is great for kids to teach them about a species in need as well as the importance of donating along with a tangible gift. You might also consider adopting a species they have never heard of, like a narwhal or a tamarin, in order to teach them about an animal they don’t know about yet.
Donate an Adoption Fee
Donating an adoption fee is a way to bring an animal adoption to a local level. You can use a photo of a dog or cat that needs a home from your local shelter, find a stuffed animal close in color, and use it as a gift for someone on your gift giving list. You don’t need to incorporate a stuffed animal, of course, but it helps to make the gift a little more tangible. Donating an adoption fee is a way to make an animal a little more appealing to potential adopters, and it can help the shelter a lot as well. For kids, it’ll help them understand the importance in adopting animals who need homes. This is also a great gift for co-workers, family members, and friends who will appreciate their gift going to such a great cause.
Taking Time to Volunteer
Give a gift to an animal or a shelter directly by taking some time during the holidays to volunteer with a local shelter or organization intended to help animals in need. You might walk dogs during this time of year when shelters tend to have less dog walkers due to the cold. You can rake leaves for the Humane Society, help make shelters for outdoor cats, clean rooms, play frisbee, or even just share some posts on social media about local animals that need homes. Work with shelters to help educate potential adopters on how to move with their animals instead of surrendering them in the case of a move. Many shelters have enrichment programs in which volunteers teach cats to walk on a leash or dogs to follow simple commands. Sometimes volunteering your time can be worth even more than donating money.
If you’re crafty, you can use your DIY skills to give gifts to animals in need during the holidays. Cat wands, cork toys for cats, no-sew pet beds, and simple cat harnesses are all popular DIY items that shelters love. Many no-sew pet beds are used for cats and dogs in their rooms or kennels in the shelter environment and then sent with them once they are adopted to give them something familiar to keep them calm in their transition. Many people donate homemade treats, outdoor shelters, or various toys for animals in need. This is a great gift giving idea for those that require a more frugal way to give. Not only are these options super helpful for animals in need, they are also options that will help you stick to your budget during the holidays. It just shows that not all donations have to be expensive ones.
Create an Office Charity
When you’re considering incorporating animals in need into your holiday gift giving, you don’t have to incorporate it all on your own. Think about getting your company in on the giving. Many companies enjoy being a part of giving back, especially to local organizations. Do the work for them by organizing a team volunteer day, a group donation pot, or by collecting items that shelters may need during the holidays such as blankets, food, or toys that you or your co-workers have lying around. If you organize donations, your company may even offer to match donations collected in the office. Plus, it’s a great way to get your company name out there in the community. Group volunteering is also a great way to keep employees engaged while giving back to animals that really need it.
The holidays are about many things, and one of those things is giving to those that are less fortunate. Whether you’re helping animals by adopting a species, donating an adoption fee, volunteering, making a craft, or organizing donations within your company, you’re doing great things for the animals that don’t have a way to help themselves. So when you’re making lists for gifts to give this holiday season, think about gifting a donation, or think about giving a gift to a shelter in your community.
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who is now living in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree in 2012 from the University of Montana. She is passionate about animal rights, bad television, and white wine. She is a volunteer at Simply Cats in Boise.