volunteerWhat are you thankful for this season? Your loved ones? Your health? Your possessions? You probably have plenty of reasons to feel thankful but in your community and around the world there are others who may not be as fortunate, and need the help of those willing to give, especially during the holiday season. So if you’re ready to give back this year, here are 5 ways you can help people in your local area and beyond.

* Donate or organize a clothing drive. Cold winter temperatures and blistering winds aren’t so bad when you’re safe behind a warm jacket. Unfortunately, many people do not know the joy of having adequate clothing. You can help by contacting your local church, community center or school and asking about hosting a clothing drive. Contact the local media to get your message out, print fliers and place them around town, and spread the word on social media. If a clothing drive already exists in your area, look through your clothes to see what you can donate. If you haven’t worn the item in a year, it would make a great donation. You can also purchase new clothes and donate them to the drive. You could do the same with food or toy drives as well.

* Give back while getting fit. Every day 650 babies are born to HIV-positive mothers. Turn Your Miles (RED) is an eight-week campaign that empowers walkers, runners and fitness enthusiasts worldwide to save lives and affect change. Use Nike’s free Nike Running app and for each Nike Running mile pledged to (RED), Bank of America will donate 40 cents – up to $1 million – toward the fight to eradicate mother-to-child HIV transmission. Forty cents is the cost of two lifesaving pills called antiretrovirals which, when taken daily, can prevent an HIV-positive woman from passing the virus to her unborn baby. You can learn more about the project at Nike.com/onestep4red.

* Become a Secret Santa. You may participate in a secret Santa program at your work or in your family circle, but not all secret Santa roles have to be directed to people you see every day. There are many opportunities to purchase goods for families in need, right in your community, allowing you to feel just like Santa Claus without that dangerous trip down the chimney.

* Make it a work affair. Discuss the idea of giving back at work and organize a team of fellow employees to volunteer at the homeless shelter or a senior living facility. In addition to giving back to your community, this could also be a helpful team-building exercise.

* Lend a helping hand. There are plenty of simple ways you can give back right in your own neighborhood. Help people shovel their driveways, run errands for seniors afraid to drive on icy roads or bake cookies for children in a struggling family. Even the simplest gesture can help you spread holiday cheer in your community.

Sometimes the best gifts don’t appear on any list. By applying a little creativity and initiative, you’ll see there are numerous ways you can enact positive change in your community and beyond. To learn more about Turn Your Miles (RED) and how you can give back by being active and staying fit, visit Red.bankofamerica.com and click on “Pledge Your Miles.”

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