Contributed by Jean Y.

Now that the holidays are over, there are still ways you can give back beyond the traditional season of giving.

Send packages to soldiers overseas.  Being away from family is difficult for soldiers any time. Sending them care packages of food or basic supplies is a great way to give thanks for their efforts.  You can also donate phone cards or a used cell phone to cell phones for soldiers.  Be sure not to pack food with cleaning products as the food will wind up tasting like soap.

Feed the hungry.  Many families do not have, nor can they afford to buy, the food needed to put together a sumptuous meal.  You can donate canned and non-perishable foods to a food bank or local shelter.  Monetary donations can be given to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks.

Help the homeless.  People who are homeless need help in so many ways throughout the year.  You can donate food, toiletries, and clothing (including new socks and underwear) to your local homeless shelter or a social service agency that works with the homeless. If you prefer to give money, the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans helps feed the homeless and works towards changing policies to end homelessness.

Deliver meals to housebound people. The elderly and infirm can’t travel to visit family or do grocery shopping.  If you have time and transportation, you can deliver meals to the homebound through  Meals on Wheels.

Donate blood. Only 5% of Americans donate blood but blood is needed every two seconds.  Start a new tradition and save lives by donating blood.

How do you help out in your community? We invite you to share your favorite causes with the food for the soul community through our Charity Bake-Off, a charitable giving program we created to raise money and contribute to causes you support. Find out more about how we can help promote your cause to our members here.