As bustling as our town can seem, and as happy as our residents appear, chances are that your neighbors can be struggling more than you think to stay afloat during one of the most difficult economical times of the year, the holidays. This is why it is so important for everyone in the community to put forth effort to keep this town together. If you are one of the lucky ones to still have a job to go to everyday, or you are a college student looking for ways to volunteer during your downtime, it is so important that you give back to Missoula, not only during these rough months, but also all year-round. If you are willing to donate your time or money, but do not know where to begin, here are some ideas to get you started.


Shop at Local Businesses


I’m not talking your “local” chain store, I am talking about mom and pop stores that are unique to our community. Shopping locally helps your community in a number of ways. Not only does it put money back into Missoula, it also helps maintain local jobs and keeps your favorite stores thriving for years to come. I have been guilty of checking out merchandise at a local store and then convincing myself that I can “find it online cheaper.” Then when I really need something from that same store months later, and I “need it today.” I drive by only to find that they have ceased business due to lack of local business and support. I’m sure this has happened to you once, so don’t let it happen again. It’s up to us to make these family-run stores successful!


Volunteer Your Time


There are countless ways to support Missoula through volunteer work. You can help out at the Humane Society or animal control by giving love to animals that may not have homes during the holidays. You can also volunteer for a community clean-up, project or work with a local homeless shelter or food bank. Especially during the holiday season, shelters are in need of volunteers to hand out blankets, food and others items that are needed by low-income families and the homeless people ofMissoula.


Donate to Local Charities


Donating to aMissoulacharity ensures that funds go directly intoMissoula. Another great idea is donating to a charity in a friend or family member’s name instead of buying or exchanging gifts. My favorite way to donate is to visit my local grocer and grab a needy child’s name off of those gift Christmas trees. They usually list the child’s name, age and what they would like for Christmas. Then, you usually purchase the gift, wrap it up and return the package to the same grocer to be given to the child on Christmas Day. Regardless if you donate money, toys, or clothes, you can bet your generosity will be much appreciated.



Everyone thinks this time of the year is tough regardless of your financial situation, but if you have a roof over your head and a few hours to spare, you are probably better off than quite a few people in Missoula, so get out there and give back to your community and help your neighbors. Whether you are raking the elderly couples’ leaves next door, petting and walking the dogs that need love and attention at a local rescue or donating money to your favorite charity, there is a way for every Missoulian to give back during the holidays and make our town that much more special.