For Thanksgiving week, I want to post a gift to you, my readers. I present to you 10 ways to give back to your community without writing a check. Please feel free to add to my list in comments.
1. Whack off your hair and donate your strands to make wigs for children with cancer. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, including little girls undergoing chemo. Locks of Love requires 10 inches and Pantene Pro-V’s Beautiful Lengths needs 8.
2. Cut Box Tops for Education and turn them into your local school or giving them to a friend or relative with kids. Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives program is another way to give back while buying something you already need.
3. Donate your old books to the library instead of shoving them in a box under your bed. If you ever want to read them again, you can visit them in their new habitat.
4. Recycle. If your street does not have a recycle bin, I can bet there are people collecting cans from the garbage anyway. Separate the trash from the cans, bottles and cardboard, and label the bag when you put it out on the street. Including a few extra plastic bags will make their job a whole lot easier-at next to no cost to you.  (In this vein, try to remember to bring re-usable shopping bags on your trips to the market.)
5. Volunteer. Try Boston Cares, which gives you a platter of volunteering options to choose from with very little commitment. This is great if you want to give back, but cannot commit to a weekly gig.
6. Donate your two-fers. Take turkeys for example. When Stop and Shop gives you a coupon for a free turkey after you purchase your holiday bird, spread the cheer. My Nana is the Queen of turkey giving around Thanksgiving. Every year when Ashley and I were growing up, my Nana would give us all her free turkey coupons she had accumulated over the year from Ralph’s to donate to our school’s drive to feed the working poor. So Squish and I, vegetarians since the 4th grade, would pull up in our Land Cruiser with  8-10 turkeys in our trunk, arguing over who had to unload them. The point, though, was to get over our disgust of raw carcasses and give to others what we could.

7. Adopt a pet. I adopted Alice our sophomore year of college, and she is such a joy. Most of the time. Anyway, after the recent ban on dog racing (nice work MA!) there are many homeless greyhounds that make wonderful apartment dogs. There are kitties, birds, puppies, bunnies, turtles- you name it, and you can adopt it. For a local adoption center, try the MSPCA. If you are looking for a particular animal, go online to

8. RT non-profits. They don’t have money for PR. Link to their websites on your blog, fan them on Facebook, and mention them on Twitter’s #followfriday. Good ones to follow: @notforsale, @gvingbackfund, @hardlynormal, @greenpeaceUSA, @earthhour. Razoo gives a bigger list here.

9. Clean out your closet. If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it to Goodwill, Planet Aid, or the Red Cross. Don’t forget: your shoes, bridesmaid dresses, jewelry (costume, not your grandmother’s pearls), coats, purses and hats. Next: go through your hubby’s/boyfriend’s/kid’s closets. Now is your chance to make those hideous pleat-front pants, of which your (ahem) “better half” is so fond disappear forever…and keep your conscience clean.

10. When gift-giving, consider making a donation in you grandmother/best friend/boss’ name. There are simple ones like the Susan. G. Komen foundation where you donate a dollar amount, or you can make like my “sister”, Carrie, and donate through Heifer International, which allows you to donate cows, rabbits, goats or even geese, to third-world families to help them become self-reliant.