Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Favorite. It was originally published on February 4, 2014. Enjoy!
I generally hate Valentine’s Day. I tend to think it is a pointless holiday that alienates people who aren’t paired off and that asks those who are to spend countless amounts of money on each other. I’m not saying this because I’m single and the thought of Valentine’s Day makes me sad. In fact, I’m happily married to a very thoughtful man who would care about the holiday if I did, too. I’m saying this because it just seems like another way to guilt the public into spending more money on frivolous things just because they are red and pink with hearts all over.
Because of this, I usually ignore Valentine’s Day. I enjoy watching my students celebrate, but then I go home and act like it’s just any other day. This year, however, one of my students had a great idea. She wanted our after-school girls’ group to make handmade Valentine’s for women in local women’s shelters. I thought this was a fantastic idea, so we got started right away. But why stop there? Here’s a list of eight charitable ways to spread the love to those who need it most this Valentine’s Day.
1. Handmade Valentine’s for People Who Need Them the Most
This first idea was my student’s. This is a great idea because you don’t need much to make it work. All you need are some red and pink construction paper, scissors, markers, and this list of Valentine’s puns. Cut out some hearts, draw some pictures and write some cute and funny Valentine’s, then deliver them to local shelters. You probably won’t ever know how much this means to these women.
2. Send Love Letters
Along the same lines, you can either send handmade Valentine’s, cards, or letters to soldiers who are currently overseas and away from their loved ones. This is a great way to show our service men and women that they are loved and appreciated during a time when they will be missing home and in need of something special.
3. Visit the Elderly
If crafts and letter-writing aren’t for you, try logging some face-to-face time in a retirement home. The elderly are often forgotten on holidays like this one, but they might be the ones who are missing their loved ones the most. Take some time out of your Valentine’s Day to play a game or read to an elderly person. This is also a great thing to do with the kids to help them realize the importance of showing love to everyone.
4. Bake Cookies for a Cause
If you are a baker, a great idea is to bake some heart-shaped cookies with pink and red frosting and take them to shelters, soup kitchens, or retirement homes. Everyone deserves a little comfort on Valentine’s Day, and what better way to give it than with some warm cookies right out of the oven and baked with love?
5. Give Gifts that Give Back
If you don’t have the time or inclination to try any of the above ideas, but you want to show your partner you care in more ways than one, buy a gift that gives back. Purchase something where a portion of the proceeds goes to a charity, or make a donation in your partner’s name to a cause he or she feels passionate about. Not all gifts have to come in little boxes!
6. Food Fundraisers
Another great way to help raise money for the cause is a food fundraiser. Many restaurants will have fundraisers for particular causes around Valentine’s Day. Search them out and take your sweetheart to one of those restaurants. You’ll get a great night out with your partner and you’ll be helping a great cause.
7. Get Your Heart Pumping
If you live in a warmer climate, Valentine’s Day is also a popular day for charity walks and runs, usually marketed under the guise of getting your heart pumping. If fitness is your thing, sign up for a charity walk to raise awareness, money and your heart rate. Better yet, make it a date and invite your sweetie to join you.
8. Random Acts of Kindness
February isn’t only about Valentine’s Day. Random Acts of Kindness Week falls right around V-Day this year: February 10-16, 2014. Take on a few little acts of kindness to show people you care. Bring baked goods for your office, eat lunch with someone new, donate your old clothing, or give up your sweet parking spot for someone who needs it. All of these things can really show you care.
Photo Credit: Greencolander