12 ways of giving to jumpstart your holiday

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Mary Forgione

For many, it's the season of finding the perfect gift, finding the perfect tree, finding the perfect everything. But it's also time to think about what isn't perfect too. During the holiday season, the desire to make things better is what inspires most of us think about giving back -- to family, to community, to the planet -- in a way that warms our hearts and makes us feel more connected to each other. But what's the most effective way to do that?

The Sierra Club's Angeles Chapter is the largest chapter of the world's largest environmental organization. Here are ways you can support the Club and the Chapter now and throughout the year. Share these thoughts with others and remember: Giving is the best gift of all.

1. Make a Season of Giving Donation: Charity Navigator, which evaluates nonprofit organizations, reports that donors who want to get the most bang for their buck should make a direct contribution to an organization rather than buy a charity-affiliated product. You can send a check or contribute online to the Angeles Chapter. Pledge $10 a month for 2014 and join the 1000 at $100 Donor Club!

2. Become a member and give a gift membership: Join the Sierra Club and become a member for as little as $15. Members receive access to exciting outings, Sierra magazine and members-only discounts on outdoor gear, apparel and exclusive discounts on goodies and services!

3. Buy 2014 Sierra Club Calendars: Enjoy a year of beautiful wilderness scenes from the Chapter for a fraction of the retail price. Orders must be received before Dec. 14 to ensure holiday delivery.

4. Donate an old car or boat: The Chapter partners with Cars 4 Causes to collect old cars, boats, RVs or motorcycles in a gift that's mutually beneficial: You get a tax refund, and the Chapter receives a donation.

5. Give a Gift of Nature: Gifts don't have to come wrapped with a bow! Make a donation in someone's name and they'll receive a personalized Tribute Card for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries or any special event. It shows them you care about them -- and the environment. Place orders for holiday Tribute Cards before Dec. 19 to ensure delivery.

6. Make a hike donation: Bring a friend and go on an outing sponsored by the Chapter. From the urban wilds of Griffith Park to the skiable peaks of the Sierra, we have you covered. Honor the volunteer leader by making a day-of contribution, an act that underscores the Club's commitment to explore, enjoy and protect the planet.

7. Shop on Amazon with us! When you use our Amazon shopping link for your holiday or year-round shopping, the Chapter receives a portion of your spending. Make your consumer dollars count -- by following the link to place your next order.

8. Make a matching gift: Stretch your donor dollars by asking whether your business or corporation will match funds. Many will double the amount -- and that doubles the impact of your donation.

9. Explore the world with us: The Chapter sponsors selected trips throughout the year to Costa Rica, Mongolia, Nepal as well as to national parks in South Dakota and New England too. New for this year is a fall trip to Israel. By traveling with us, a portion of the trip cost comes back to the Chapter as a donation.

10. Find a partner: Ask businesses you work for or you use to make the Angeles Chapter their Charity of Choice. Warner Bros. employees do -- and celebrate the partnership with a hike each year.

11. Get your hands dirty: Volunteer to maintain trails, lead hikes for inner-city kids or staff a booth during our busy Earth Day season. There are events and activities year-round where you can make a difference.

12: Spread the word: Learn about the Chapter's environmental campaigns and educate others about local issues that ensure clean air and water for Southern California and beyond.

Photo caption: Toyon, a shrub native to Southern California. Credit: Tom Politeo

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