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Drowning in empty boxes? This nonprofit's latest move helps you do good — and clear the clutter.

The holiday season can be a bit ... overwhelming. So here are some easy-peasy ways to spread some cheer.

Drowning in empty boxes? This nonprofit's latest move helps you do good — and clear the clutter.

They may not be playing "Frosty the Snowman" on the radio yet, but I'm already starting to feel the chill.

Am I the only one dreading the moment when "Let It Snow!" comes to life? *shudder*


That baby's expression perfectly sums up my feelings about being out in the cold. Photo by U.S. Army/Flickr.

As the holiday season rapidly approaches (when did December get here?), your wallet has probably already started getting thinner ... and thinner.

Luckily, there are some amazing opportunities for you to get into the holiday spirit without doing the "spending more money" or "going outside" thing.

AND no pants required! *\\o/*. Image via iStock.

1. It's a box revolution!

If your apartment looks anything like mine, you've got a growing city of cardboard boxes taking over a corner.

This is actually a selfie. You just can't see me. Because presents. Photo by PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay.

Sure, I did my holiday shopping early, which is great. But that stack of empty boxes from seemingly every website ever gets taller and taller.

No bueno.

Thankfully, there's an amazing service that lets you tackle the discarded-box problem overload all while giving back.

Goodwill teamed up with GiveBackBox.com to create a simple and genius solution:

Step 1: Take those empty boxes, throw in some household goods, clothing, or jewelry you've been meaning to get rid of.

Step 2: Go to GiveBackBox.com and print out a FREE shipping label.

Step 3: Someone will come pick up your package the next day and send your donation for processing!

Brilliant.

Goodbye clutter, helloooo organized closet! And you get an automated tax-deduction receipt, too!

GIF via "Sex and the City."

You get to recycle, get more space, and give back? It's a win-win-win situation!

Want to keep that giving-back high going (but, you know, still stay inside?) I got you:

2. Use this search engine to plant some trees while you're looking up holiday recipes.


Photo by Eleabarjavel/Pixabay.

3. Need to brush up on your vocabulary before those intense holiday party convos? Test yourself and help fight hunger.

Image via iStock.

Yay, Free Rice. Everyone will be so impressed at your vast lexicon!

4. Not feeling like being tested? Support autism research — or many other causes, including DONKEYS! — with a simple click.

I dunno about you, but I'm feeling pretty great that I got to help these cuties today. Photo by lanzeppelin0/Pixabay.

GreaterGood.com has a network of sites dedicated to various causes from hunger to animal welfare to literacy that lets anyone help raise money. Thanks to some generous sponsors, they make their donation to each cause a little bit bigger with each click they get.


5. Don't even want to look at a computer? You can donate your computer's downtime to help scientists do things like cure diseases.

Your computer will never feel lonely again! Photo by josecamoessilva/Flickr.

Projects like Folding@home, BOINC, the World Community Grid, and LHC@home harness unused computer power to help their orgs do tasks like understand proteins, analyze weather cycles, and even cure diseases! That's a pretty great thing to accomplish by doing, you know, nothing.

6. Need a break from the holiday hustle and bustle? Read a classic book that needs to be turned into an audiobook.

Photo by Darien Library/Flickr.

Use LibriVox to find public domain books you can read out loud while recording yourself. Donate your glorious reading to the site and voila! You just helped made a great literary classic available to folks who have difficulty reading.

7. And if you forgot someone on your list and have to buy a last-minute gift, make your purchase go further with iGive or Amazon Smile.

Photo by Simon/pixabay.

The first time you go to the site, you select the charity of your choice. Then a small percentage of every purchase made through that link is donated! Giving money without expending extra money? Love it.

Thanks to technology, we have more ways than ever to give back to our communities. You don't have to have a big bank account or a full gas tank to drive to the nearest soup kitchen. These small wins add up. Our collective power to change the world — even while we're in our pajamas — is kind of awesome.

So get out there stay right there and start doing some good!

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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