8 weird ways to give back this holiday season

Tis the season to serve. Take advantage of these fun, simple ideas to give back this holiday season.

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  • The holidays are a time for giving, and many of us want to share of what we have and who we are with those less fortunate.

  • There are thousands of worthy causes, but here are just a few ideas of ways you can give that you might not have thought about:

  • Give of yourself

  • Literally. If you haven't donated blood in the past two months, find your local blood donation center and give or register to be an organ donor. You can register when you renew your driver's license. Be sure to tell your family members so they know what your wishes are.

  • Lend your voice

  • Volunteers with VocalID record "two to three hours of speech, which will then be used to create a synthetic voice for individuals who don't have the ability to speak on their own," as Reader's Digest says.

  • Open a child's eyes to the world of reading

  • At www.firstbook.org, a donation of $2.50 will provide a child in need with a book. Just $30 will provide one new book every month for a year. Or give of your time and volunteer at your local library, elementary school or after-school program to read aloud.

  • Show how you care

  • CARE is an international organization that has been helping to fight poverty around the world since 1945, according to its website. You can give any amount of money to "lift children, women and families out of poverty around the world" or help with a specific project, such as providing a family with a goat (for $45) or a school with a water tap ($70.20).

  • Rat out a mine

  • When you donate to Apopo, you can save a life via the efforts of trained rats. Yes, rats. This organization "researches, develops and implements detection-rats technology for humanitarian purposes such as clearing landmines and detecting tuberculosis." Adopting a virtual HeroRAT could even be a fun gift for a child: the program lets kids see "how our heroes evolve from birth to operational deployment."

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  • Remember man's best friend(s)

  • Show some love to the dogs and cats that provide dedicated companionship for us humans. Foster a pet from a local shelter who's still waiting for a "forever family," or volunteer to walk the dogs at the shelter or those of elderly neighbors.

  • Help free people who are being trafficked or support those who have been trafficked

  • The U.S. State Department lists 20 ways you can help, including just learning what the red flags are; "distribut(ing) public awareness materials (available from the Department of Health and Human Services or Department of Homeland Security); and volunteer(ing) to do victim outreach or offer(ing) your professional services to a local anti-trafficking organization."

  • Band together for miracles

  • The Children's Miracle Network raises funds and awareness for children's hospitals around the United States and Canada. Children battling cancer, suffering from a traumatic injury or dealing with a genetic disease, among many other situations, can always receive care at a CMN hospital. Donors can get a Miracle Band for supporting the CMN, and during the holidays, anyone who pledges $5 a month for a year will receive a Holiday Band.

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Cathy Carmode Lim is the founder of RatedReads.com, a website that reviews books and gives them ratings according to content. She is also a copy editor and blogs at LifeandLims.com.

Website: http://RatedReads.com

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