Valentine’s Day Done the Charitable Way

When you think of Valentine’s Day, what comes to mind? Is it cozying up with your loved one on a park bench, plunging face-first into boxes of assorted chocolates, or classrooms of children exchanging much-sought-after cards and candy? Although the traditional ways we celebrate love on Valentine’s Day are longstanding – with Valentine’s cards outdating Hallmark itself – many of them don’t have a lasting effect on our lives.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Instead, why not spend this holiday making an impact on the worthy people and organizations in your area? By using your Valentine’s Day to make a charitable difference in the community, you and your loved ones can hang onto the joy of the holiday long after the flowers and chocolates have disappeared.

Here are a few ways your Valentine’s Day can be spent charitably:

• Get your blood pumping – If the weather permits, lace up your running shoes and head out to a charity walk or run in your area. Signing up for and participating in one can allow you to raise not only your heart rate, but money and awareness as well.
• Send letters of love – While 160-character text messages and 140-character tweets may cut it on a normal day, Valentine’s Day deserves a little something extra. Try sending cards or letters to soldiers who are currently overseas and away from their special someone(s), or to a family member you haven’t reached out to in a while.
• Take part in a random act of kindness – Valentine’s Day isn’t the only giving holiday this week. February 14 to 19 celebrates Random Acts of Kindness Week, a time to show people you care in whatever (random) way you choose. By eating lunch with someone new at the office, donating your unwanted clothing or collecting cans for a food bank, you’ll be well on your way.
• Give gifts that give back – If you don’t have the time or the drive to try any of the ideas listed above, why not buy a gift that gives back? Try purchasing something that gives a portion of its proceeds to a worthy charity, perhaps to a cause your loved one feels passionate about.

No matter how you choose to spend Valentine’s Day this year, I hope it’s filled with the people and things that mean the most to you.