Philanthropic Friday: Holiday Giving

There are so many ways to give during the holidays. Find a cause that gives you joy. -


This post was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Every time I attend a conference or event, I leave with all kinds of swag. For the uninitiated, swag refers to Stuff (that’s the clean version) We All Get. They are almost always cool and sought after items provided as gifts or prizes by the sponsors. Sure my girls will play with toys, action figures or dolls every once in a while, but we are to the point that we discuss the likelihood of these items being loved more than just once before we tear open the package. Often these are items I’m excited about, but other times they are a reminder that my girls are long past the days of needing pull toys and pacifiers.

It’s an ongoing dilemma of bloggers as to what to do with all this… stuff. Personally, we often try to find a new home for the items, donate them or ask a contributing author to write about some of them. More often than not the unopened items go into a box and get put in storage. Storing perfectly good items for no reason other than to store them? That’s insane. I know. Some of these items are expensive and they aren’t doing anyone any good in a box. This year, we decided enough was enough. We want our space back so several months ago we started sorting through the storage area. I get anxiety getting rid of things in big batches so we have been donating it a little at a time to keep me from – for lack of a better phrase – freaking out.

Then Scott researched and discovered that University of Iowa Children’s Hospital is always in need of donations, especially around the holidays. We decided this would be the perfect new home for those new items that we never opened. So we thought we would up the ante and see if we could make the trip even more plentiful by asking the gift guide sponsors to donate additional units for us to deliver to the hospital. Between the items we had in boxes and the items donated by the sponsors, we had enough items for two van loads of goodies.

There are so many ways to give during the holidays. Find a cause that gives you joy. -  There are so many ways to give during the holidays. Find a cause that gives you joy. -

Our first stop on the donation trail was at a local church that provides gifts to approximately 250 local families and various organizations. We were able to deliver multiple items that they would use to supplement the parishioner donations they had already received.

There are so many options for holiday giving. Find a cause that gives you joy. -

The biggest delivery we made was to University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. I’ve known many families who have needed to utilize their services and have been told multiple times about the hospitality they received during their visit.

There are so many options for holiday giving. Find a cause that gives you joy. -

While I expected to have some sense of anxiety about delivering so many items which included many unopened items from our own toy and game collection, I actually found it comforting. The things we didn’t need were going to be given to people who are spending time at a hospital with a loved one who is ill.

There are so many options for holiday giving. Find a cause that gives you joy. -

We’ve been able to make a difference by donating. We have friends who volunteer as bell ringers for the red buckets while others who spend their holidays at soup kitchens. There are other ways to raise awareness and give back during the holidays. Did you know some are as simple as using social media, doing things you do all the time anyhow such as uploading a photo and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram?

There are so many options for holiday giving. Find a cause that gives you joy. -

Using the Donate a Photo app, you scroll through various campaigns and find one that resonates with you. Some examples of causes available are United Way, Save the Children, The Trevor Project, Operation Smile and USO. Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to the cause you selected for each photo you upload. Johnson & Johnson has curated a list of trusted causes, and you can donate a photo to one cause, once a day. Each cause will appear in the app until it reaches its goal, or the donation period ends. If the goal isn’t reached, the cause will still get a minimum donation. Over 179,000 people have contributed to the app since its launch in 2013, sharing 1.75 million photos!

As an alternative, you can purchase a gift from the Save The Children “Gifts of Joy” holiday catalogue. Johnson & Johnson has been partnering with Save The Children for years, supporting programs around the world. Building on a three-year, $10 million commitment, Johnson & Johnson will match each donation (up to $450,000). In addition, they continue to provide in-kind donations of health and hygiene products through Save The Children’s emergency funds.

We have been fortunate enough to be able to make a donation of toys and games, but we recognize that most people don’t have that ability. The key to holiday giving is finding a cause that resonates with you and give in ways that you are able. Uploading a photo to the Donate a Photo app doesn’t cost anything and still gives you the joy that comes with helping others.

For more information on Johnson & Johnson’s partnership with Save The Children, visit their website. You can also connect with them on Twitter. Holiday giving doesn’t get much easier than this.

What ways to you give back during the holidays?

22 thoughts on “Philanthropic Friday: Holiday Giving

  1. this is the season for giving you made such a difference for so many families. A very very long time ago we were a family of 3 Mom Dad n Me we welcomed my little brother into the world…we found out when he was 5 mos old he had cancer. A Willhems tumor that was the size of a football inside his tiny body that had his left kidney inside. Over the next 4 yrs he had 2 more tumors removed, 72 radiation treatments and all the chemo he could handle. He passed away when I was 12. I was at the hospital with him as often as I could be there…. i donated my toys i outgrew pushed kids all over in wheelchairs to keep them busy built a million toys sets and wiped a thousand noses i remember the kindness of strangers towards my bro. We pay it forward to <3

    1. So sorry for your loss, Claudette. We didn’t see any of the patients during this trip so your story had quite the impact on me. YOU were able to make a positive difference for others even while you were experiencing your own hardship and hurt. It’s people like you (and your family) who make me happy to be able to give back in this way and to recognize how lucky I am. Bless you!

      1. thank you for your message of love… I lost my bro in 1974…it was many many Christmas’s ago but I still miss him so much. As the only child of my parents to survive, and my Dad passed away in 2007, ironically today would have been his 76th bday…. I was in the trenches and wow .. its so hard to walk into a hospital full of sick children and we were in the ward for the Cancer children .. every bed full no one over 18. Many nights after school we went up the elevator only to smell the incense of the last rights on a child we knew. It never got any easier. But… yes I was young and resilient and destined to be caregiver there and now and all my years in between… my path is always taking me to those who need me. For the last 3 1/2 yrs I been stay home Nana to my wee grandson… my husband and I been married 26 yrs and have a fine son and a lovely daughter. I am so bless for I was stay home Mom to them to. Its sort of a calling …. reading your story you are an awesome woman… god bless you for your kindness … its tough days when children are terminally ill … the youngest ones do not realize what is happening and these familys find themselves desperate to try to be normal under abnormal circumstances. Gifts truly help to keep them happy they are just babes.. making the last months through being in hospital the days are very very long and nights you don’t want to sleep, but you do from exhaustion. Nicole, trust me, you made a huge difference to families working through the toughest times…your an angel…Merry Christmas to you and your family and wishing you a very healthy happy prosperous New Year … I just wanted to share from the perspective of what our family went through and be it many many of the people who helped us are long passed away but I do not forget them…..they are with my bro now…..and they keep watch over my family for me…. that is my one wish every year … keep my babes safe and healthy too… <3 Its all I need …

  2. That’s great you are able to do that, and that you use what you have gotten to do so much good! That is a great way to pay it back especially during the holidays. What a great way to be able to give back. I remember getting donations as a kid from the church, because I lived with my grandmother and we couldn’t afford things. It really meant a lot, and as an adult I try to give back in the same way so that others can have that experience too.

  3. I LOVE this Nicole! There are so many ways to give but we often are at a loss of where and how. Especially during the holidays. Thank you so much! And Wow! That is an awesome gift you gave with all your swag.
    Merry Christmas!

  4. I love that you give back, this is the season to pay it forward and remember those who really need a little spirited lift. Very great to give because there is always need. Merry Christmas

  5. Such a great way to give back! I always donate what I can during the holidays, but it’s good to remember to give all year round.

  6. I love the idea of helping others. I find a teacher to donate my games to. In door recess is soUchiha better and calmer with board games. Plus it introduces to the a whole new world of games they wouldn’t otherwise be familiar with.

  7. Nothing in life is as strong as a mother’s love for her children. I had that kind of love from my mother when I was little – and I know that much of why I am the man I am today is because of that incredible love.

    Life’s greatest tragedy – in my opinion at least – is a child who must struggle through his or her early years without the support and guidance of a loving mother. That’s why I consider it such a noble cause to help orphaned and abandoned children find a mother’s love when that tragedy occurs.

    It’s also why I’m such a fervent supporter of SOS Children’s Villages Canada. This is the one organization in the world that finds lifelong mothers for lost children – and helps them grow in homes and villages where they belong to a family, a neighbourhood and a community.

  8. Brilliant idea, my gameing organisation has been doing something simmilar for the last few years… we are collecting games for kindergartens and primary schools. We are still quite small but growin each year, and accordingly, our donations as well.

  9. Thank you guys so much for doing this, I really appreciate what you’re doing. Our family has been going through hard times lately and I’m so happy to see people who care about others. Keep it up you guys.

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