People aren’t the only ones who sometimes need a helping hand. Pets rely on us for everything from food and medical bills to walks and snuggles. Endangered and threatened wildlife count on our ability to conserve the environment. If you’re looking for ways to help animals this holiday season we’ve got you covered.
Animals and Kids
Before we get to the many ways to help pets this holiday season, we’d like to remind parents to get children involved. Young children must be taught to give back, but many of the ways we give back to the community or the world at large are either too complicated for a child to understand or even frightening. Asking children to help animals is a great way to develop their empathy, and acts as a stepping stone to giving back in other, more complicated ways.
Donate to Shelters and Sanctuaries
Most regions have a local animal shelter or rescue group, and some have full-blown animal sanctuaries. Such organizations offer plenty of ways to help animals this holiday season.
Cash donations, of course, are always appreciated. You can also ask for the organization’s wish list and purchase items they need. Donations of pet food, toys, and cat litter aren’t going to be turned down by an animal shelter. You can even donate your own animal’s gently-used items, such as food bowls, toys, leashed, collars, grooming supplies, and pet beds.
Volunteer Your Time
Volunteering is one of the best ways to help pets this holiday season, or at any time of the year. Animal shelter volunteers do everything from cleaning cages and writing newsletters to socializing kittens and puppies by playing with them—which must be one of the most fun volunteer tasks ever invented.
Zoos, animal sanctuaries, and wildlife rehabilitation centers also need volunteers. You’ll have less hands-on time with the animals the centers care for, but you’ll be making a huge difference in their lives.
Buy Gifts with Animals in Mind
You can find ways to help animals this holiday season even while you’re gift-shopping. Find gifts for animal-loving friends and family at the online stores of rescues and sanctuaries, where a portion of sales go towards the maintenance of the organization.
If you know someone who’s passionate about a species of animal, many wildlife conservation organizations allow you to “adopt” an animal. For instance, when you adopt from the World Wildlife Foundation you support conservation and receive an adoption certificate and stuffed animal that represents your species. Who wouldn’t want a cuddly whale shark or pangolin?
Foster or Adopt
Animal shelters tend to have staffing issues over the holidays, as staff members travel to be with family. This makes volunteering all the more important. You can take some of the pressure off the shelter by fostering a pet for the holidays. You’ll need everyone in the family to be okay with the idea, and a safe place for the animal to stay (four-month-old kittens and Christmas trees are a destructive mix). Who knows? After the holidays are over you might find you can’t bear to part with your foster pet and adopt it! Giving a forever home to an animal in need is perhaps the best of all ways to help pets this holiday season.
How does your family plan on helping animals this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!
Searching for the perfect holiday gift for a photography lover in your life? Check out our Holiday Gift Guide for our top recommendations for every photo lover on your list.