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There are many reasons why giving rocks. People give because they care, because it makes them feel better and like they’re making a difference in the world. No matter how big or small you give, it makes an impact. Giving isn’t just good for people or organizations on the receiving end, though. Studies have found that giving has a positive impact on the giver’s health. Whether it’s for loved ones or our favorite causes, we love the act of giving. (And receiving. We’re not going to act like complete angels.)

Kim Bode, owner

It was always my intention that 834 support the community that has given us the foundation to be successful. Regardless of what we do, it is important to me to donate to the organizations that have impacted my life. Jimmy, one of my four dogs, was saved by Vicky’s Pet Connection through their Senior Paws’ program. Helping this organization continue to save dogs that have been tossed aside in their old age is why I give.

Adrienne Wallace, director

Giving is the foundation for my being. My cornerstone, if you will. I feel most whole when I am doing something with my talents for other people, causes or things. In fact, most people who really know me articulate that this is also my greatest fault. Historically speaking, nonprofit organizations have filled the gap of a shrinking government service spectrum. In the U.S., as social services became less and less, the need for and the existence of nonprofits became more and more. While many people in the middle class give money to causes, few people lend a voice or lobby for policy change. Writing letters, emails, tweeting, campaigning to and for local, state and federal legislators with your most pressing social issues really championing the heart of a cause is the most effective giving of time, talent or treasure that you can possibly address for a nonprofit course correction. Best of all, it’s free. It’s my challenge to you this new year to contribute to social change by championing an intelligent and cheap strategy for course correction. Give your voice to a nonprofit mission or cause in order to impact policy at the root level to make real change. Sure, it’s easier to give money, but wouldn’t you rather impact real change? I would.

Leigh Rapaport, project manager

The holiday season seems to bring out the giving spirit, but it doesn’t have to happen only between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The act of giving was something I grew up with being instilled by my parents, and I learned from an early age that giving comes in many forms. Whether it’s giving time, money, items needed or simply sharing something through social media, there’s always a way to give support. I have a connection to the nonprofits that I’ve volunteered for and that my friends and family work with, so AmazonSmile makes it really easy to show some love by automatically donating to some of my favorite charitable organizations whenever I make a purchase on the AmazonSmile site. Not only is it easy, but it can be done throughout the year. Currently I’m supporting Habitat for Humanity of Kent County, but can easily donate to another organization at any time.

Julie Sheeran, creative director

The best part about giving is the ability to show somebody you care. When it comes to friends and family, it’s hard to show how much we care with our crazy-busy lives or the distance that keeps us apart. Finding (or designing) something that is personal or special to someone else shows them you appreciate them and the things they enjoy and that you care about their happiness. My other favorite part of giving is the shopping! Even though the gift is for someone else, it’s so much fun to explore and find things you may have never even though to look for. Another great way to give is by donating. There is no better feeling than giving to a great cause. There are a lot of things in the this world we can’t control as one individual, but when you donate to a cause you love, you know that somewhere out there you are making a difference to someone and every little bit counts. My personal favorites are the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation.

Lindsay Patton-Carson, content director

I love the power of a good gift. You know that feeling when – out of nowhere – someone gives you something just because it reminded them of you? That’s one of life’s greatest feelings. This time of year can feel stressful and rushed. We’ve all had that “Oh, shit!” moment where someone’s forgotten from the gift list. (Fun fact: I have recurring nightmares about this. It’s terrible.) I make it gift giving enjoyable by using the whole year as an opportunity to gift hunt. There is no rule saying when you can holiday shop and many times, I have my holiday shopping done in October or November because I’ve found so many treasures. Every retail store visit is an opportunity to find a kick-ass gift, whether it’s for the holidays, a birthday or just to say “Hey, I like you.” When it comes to causes, I adore the work Best Friends Animal Society does to better animal lives. I’m also a big Planned Parenthood supporter. PP helped me out when I was a recent grad without health insurance. (This was before the Affordable Care Act, which meant I was immediately kicked off my parents’ insurance.) Thanks to PP, I had affordable access to healthcare, a service offered that many people do not immediately associate with the organization.

Jessica Krysinska, digital media lead

I always have a difficult time gift shopping. I can’t help but feel that the ones I care and love deserve so much more than what I can give them… financially. It’s easy to forget that giving doesn’t have to be some tangible object that you gift wrap. In fact, it doesn’t have to cost you any bank account damage at all. The best way to give is paid in time. Spending quality time with friends and family can sometimes be the best gift you can ever give to someone and to yourself. The top thing my mom thanks me for is giving up my weekend and hours of driving to be with her. I never leave a volunteering event regretting my experience. Giving your time to someone will never go unappreciated by either you or the other, while that desk decor paper weight from Home Goods was a sheer guess. Time is valuable to me, but time spent with others is the richest kind of spending.

Rebecca Dutcher, web director

I observe family and friends months before the holidays. If possible, I like to surprise people with things they may have mentioned in passing, things they would like but wouldn’t buy for themselves. It really can be the little things that show you think about that person more often than the holidays. And, always the little extras that make a difference. I enjoy the observation, getting to know what my friends or family members might really enjoy, of course shopping, and then the element of surprise when they are opening the gift. I also love wrapping presents, no matter how big or small. Fun papers to fit their personalities, ribbons and the sneaky over-sized boxes that won’t give it away. When it comes to organizations, one that is close to me is the American Heart Association. My dad passed away from heart failure on Christmas day 18 years ago, so this org is one that always comes to mind this time of year.

Emma Thibault, associate 

Every Christmas, I sponsor a few children in Mecosta County through the Salvation Army’s Giving Tree. In addition to this, I am very involved in Ferris State University’s Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) chapter. Every November through Angels of Action, myself and other PRSSA members make fleece-tie blankets for local underprivileged children. We personally gift local children with these blankets, and the excitement they feel for receiving something as minuscule as a blanket is what makes giving so fulfilling.

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