The Checkout

How to give back to the community during the holidays

Avatar By | November 18, 2019
Medically reviewed by Karen Berger, Pharm.D.

As a pharmacist, helping people is part of your job. For many, it’s why you decided to join the healthcare field, and what drives you—making sure your patients are happy and healthy. You’re already working to make the world a better place and giving back to the community on a daily basis. But, during the holiday season, it’s even more important to help those in need. 

9 ideas for giving back to the community

The season of gifts and good cheer is hard for people who are struggling—financially, emotionally, or physically. Making a special effort this time of year can make a real difference for the people in your area. Get started, with these ideas.

1. Donate 

From Thanksgiving through the New Year, there are many ways to raise funds or supplies for the people who need them. Your pharmacy could partner with a charitable organization, then offer customers the opportunity to donate their change to the cause when checking out. Or, ask management to give a portion of sales on a certain day to a local charity. 

But all donations don’t have to be money. Organize a canned food or winter coat drive. Plan a staff trip to donate blood together. Register with Be the Match. Or, ask a local shelter what kind of toiletry items they need, and post a list of items like shampoo, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, or toilet paper that staff and customers can contribute before your drop-off date.

2. Volunteer

Personal time is just as valuable as cold hard cash, especially when you can contribute specialized skills. Offer your pharmacy knowledge to a local organization that can’t afford to have a medical professional on staff. Organize a free vaccination clinic for the community, or a health workshop where you teach the value of medication adherence. 

Pick a day when you and your coworkers can get involved in the community together. Soup kitchens and meal delivery services need extra help on days with bad weather. Visit a nursing home or staff an event at an after-school program or local recreation center. Not sure where to start? Use Volunteer Match to find opportunities near you.

3. Educate

Go the extra mile to educate your customers about special health dangers they might encounter during the holiday season. “Pharmacists can alert their patients who have heart failure and hypertension about the dangers of high salt foods around the holidays,” explains Kathleen K. Adams, Pharm.D. “Many hospitals note a ‘holiday spike’ in readmissions between the period of Thanksgiving and Christmas—when patients consume holiday foods high in salt. We can encourage our patients to make recipes low in sodium, and those who want to add extra salt at the table may do so.”

RELATED: How to get into the pharmacy field

4. Sponsor

Find out if a local school or teacher has a wish list. Make a care package or write a letter to a soldier. Help a low-income family finish their holiday shopping. Your colleagues, family, or friends can contribute whatever little item fits in their budgets.

Ask your pharmacy to sponsor a local sports team. Your sponsorship funds will cover fees and equipment for kids whose families might not otherwise be able to afford it. And, it serves as free advertising for your store. You can provide a banner to display during games or jerseys with your pharmacy’s logo. Or, offer to sell hats or pennants for the local team to raise money for the local booster club. Post a community bulletin board where local businesses can share their events and news.

5. Exercise for a cause

During the holiday season, many organizations have 5k races (think Turkey Trots) that donate the registration fees to charity. Find one that’s happening when your pharmacy is closed, and recruit your coworkers to run (or even walk!) together—and show off the importance of fitness to your customers. If jogging isn’t your thing, take a donation-based yoga class that helps people access the practice who can’t afford pricey designer workshops.

6. Help your neighbors

If your pharmacy doesn’t allow organized events, or your coworkers are being grinches, you can add a little extra energy to your town or city on your own. If you see your elderly neighbors heading out with a snow shovel, offer to clear their walkways. Sign for a package for the person in the apartment next door, and use it as an opportunity to get to know each other.

Pack a brown bag lunch, or toiletry bag stocked with warm gloves and socks to hand out to the homeless you pass in your daily commute. Or, if you prefer the anonymous route, pay for the person’s order who is behind you in the drive-thru line. It just might inspire someone else to pay it forward.

7. Offer your family and friends the same courtesy

When you think of giving back to the community, you often think of helping strangers. But, chances are you have a friend who could use a free babysitter or an elderly relative who would love a chance to catch up during a ride to a doctor’s visit.

Offer to check your family’s blood pressure before a holiday dinner. Or, answer all of your friends’ lingering prescription questions.

8. Be a little more generous

If you’re dining out at a local restaurant, add an extra five or 10% on top of your normal tip. Bring in that box of cookies you received as a gift to share with your coworkers. See if a community organization could use that $5 balance you have left on your gift card.

9. Use AmazonSmile

Next time you’re buying holiday gifts, or ordering pharmacy supplies, use AmazonSmile to donate a portion of your purchase to a selected charity. During the holidays, lots of businesses give a percentage of sales to charities. Some do it year round. Find gifts that give back for your work’s gift exchange.

No matter the method you choose, your community will appreciate the extra effort you put forth giving back to the community, during the holiday season, and beyond.