Help out during the holidays

By Jennie Bragg, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- We are right in the middle of the most spectacular display of economic activity all year -- holiday shopping season.

With all this getting, consider giving a little back to make your hometown a better, brighter place this holiday season.

Most of those holiday gifts will put a hole in your wallet, but the gift of time won't cost you a cent.

Community service

Add a community service project to your family's extended holiday to-do list.

You don't need any experience to pitch in at your local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, hospital or nursing home. Most organizations will give you on-site training and let you know how you can be of service when you arrive.

Check out VolunteerMatch.org or ServeNet.org to search for projects and charities in your local area in need of assistance.

These sites allow you to search for group and kid-friendly projects, so get the whole family involved.

A family community service project is a perfect chance to teach your little ones the importance of giving. It is also a great opportunity to establish new family traditions.

Help from home

If your family can't commit to a project outside your home, don't fret.

Get together and clean out the closets!

The more space you clean out now, the more peaceful and organized life will be in 2011. Oh, and you will have room for your new gifts!

Donate anything that is still in good condition to a good cause. Your local Salvation Army or Good Will will accept everything from clothing and furniture to old movies and cooking pans.

Be sure to get a receipt for everything you donate. Donations are tax deductible, and you will need that receipt come April.

Can't tear your kids away from the computer?

Head to FreeRice.com and test your vocabulary skills together. This non-profit site run by the U.N. World Food Programme will donate 10 grains of rice to help end world hunger for every answer you guess correctly.

Give back at work

Lots of companies put a major focus on community outreach this time of year.

If your company already has programs in place, hop on board. And if they don't, feel free to suggest a few.

Some businesses many even offer you and your team a little time away from the office to complete a volunteer project together.

Or consider projects that folks can easily participate in at the office.

Organize a Red Cross blood drive, a toy drive or a clothing drive.

You might even be able to get your company to donate directly to help out your cause.

Talkback: Have you volunteered for charity this year? Are you planning to do any next year? To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.99%4.00%
15 yr fixed3.06%3.11%
5/1 ARM3.20%3.20%
30 yr refi4.00%4.09%
15 yr refi3.08%3.20%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,827.75 12.81 0.07%
Nasdaq 4,787.32 29.07 0.61%
S&P 500 2,072.83 5.80 0.28%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.03 -1.15%
Data as of 6:54am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Kinder Morgan Inc 42.32 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 119.00 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 77.62 0.00 0.00%
Pfizer Inc 31.10 0.00 0.00%
Bank of America Corp... 17.11 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Nov 26

Sections

At malls and department stores across America, the faithful are lining up and camping out for deals. More

At malls and department stores across America, the faithful are lining up and camping out for deals. More

Two pilots encountered drones while flying over college football games and another pilot saw one while flying over the Hollywood sign. More

Natalie's Cakes and More has raised $84,000 through GoFundMe after protests trash store. More

Retailers are promising big deals this Black Friday, but are the savings actually worth the shopping mayhem? Test your deal-sniffing skills. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.