Giving back can be all year long. Our guide offers an idea for every month of the year, from making gift bags for seniors to organizing a trash cleanup in your neighborhood.

A closeup of a person's arms outstretched with a bowl of scrumptious-looking soup. A large red pot is nearby along with a spoon on a dish towel.
Photo: Becca Tapert / Unsplash

JANUARY – Bring Food to Someone

The next time you make a soup or casserole, consider doubling the recipe and bringing it to a new parent or ill person in your community. It can be dropped off with a note of encouragement, and even if they do not use it that day, it’s something they can freeze for later. 

Not sure who could use the support? Check with local food pantries or religious and community organizations. They might have a list or word-of-mouth suggestions.

FEBRUARY – Support Local Foster Care Children

Reach out to local foster care groups to find out what the needs are for the children in their care. If it’s possible, giving gifts with the child’s name on it (such as a gift like a blanket or mug) can be particularly meaningful, as children may share things or may not have their own items, especially ones with their names on them. 

To find your local foster support organization, use the National Foster Care & Adoption Directory and search for Foster Youth Services and Supports in your state.

MARCH – Use Your Vehicle To Help Those In Need

Seek out programs that bring food to or otherwise help folks like the elderly or people undergoing treatment. Some programs volunteer to drive people to health appointments if they don’t have their own car or family member to help, instead of leaning on public transit or paying for a taxi.

For example, the American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery® program has volunteers who provide free rides to treatment for cancer patients, noting that transportation barriers are the most common reason for missing appointments.

Nourishing Hope, a food pantry in Chicago, has a community of volunteers who can drive for deliveries or act as personal shopping assistants. See if organizations in your area have similar programs. It’s a great way for Subaru owners to involve their children and volunteer.

Subaru employees are helping to cleanup trash in the city of Camden, New Jersey. They're wearing Subaru Loves the Earth T-shirts and orange vests and are carrying bags for the waste.
As part of the Subaru Loves the Earth® initiative, Subaru of America employees volunteer to assist the city of Camden, New Jersey, in cleaning up local neighborhoods and parks. In 2022, the Camden Strong – Clean Camden Campaign consisted of 13 community cleanup events focused on trash removal as well as informing residents about recycling, e-waste, trash disposal, and litter prevention.

APRIL – Organize a Trash Cleanup

Get your neighborhood school or neighbors involved and organize a day to clean up. Whether it’s the side of the road or a local beach or park, reducing the amount of plastic and trash on the ground in your community makes a big impact, both for peoples enjoyment and to help wildlife thrive.

This is another great activity to pair with children and the entire family – you might find your kiddos pay more attention in the future to where their garbage goes. Earth Day is a great reason to organize an event, but you can continue the effort all year. Contact your local Subaru retailers to see if they are organizing a cleanup event; many do.

MAY – Help Make Graduations Special

Think outside the box about how to make the graduation season special for local youth. In San Francisco, 8th grade teacher Sara Mokhtari Fox knew that the 2023 graduation season was important to those approaching 8th grade graduation – her students had all missed their 5th grade graduation and end-of-year celebrations during the 2020 pandemic.

So, they planned a special graduation ceremony, Fox says, adding that donations from a local retailer, Putnam Subaru of Burlingame, helped fund the graduation ceremony and provided tickets to a theme park.

For local grads near you, consider donating funds for a celebration or offering to gift a special meal.

Five women are standing in front of a wall in the Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, North Carolina, that says, The Jo Anne Poe Cancer Center. They're holding up a large velvety blue blanket and pillow and are smiling.

JUNE – Donate Blankets to Hospitals

At the Jo Anne Poe Cancer Center at Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, North Carolina, they see about 130 patients per month, many of whom have six- to eight-hour chemotherapy sessions, and blankets help to keep them warm throughout this process.

Becky Pearson, the foundation director of Ashe Memorial Hospital, says blanket donations make a big difference. “When patients are receiving an infusion in the Jo Anne Poe Cancer Center at Ashe Memorial Hospital, a very common side effect is feeling very cold,” Pearson says. She says that handmade blankets are lovely, and the hospital has no restrictions on how they are made other than patient preferences for soft and cozy materials – nothing scratchy.

Reach out to your local hospital’s oncology unit manager to see if they accept these items.

JULY – Make Gift Bags for Seniors

Looking for a family-friendly volunteer activity? Make gift bags filled with items like hand lotion, candy treats, writing supplies or craft items and a homemade card for seniors in nearby nursing homes. This is especially meaningful for those who may not have family nearby to visit them. Loop in your kids with brainstorming and shopping.

AUGUST – Fulfill Needs for Classrooms

Find out whether your local school has any unaddressed needs – most do! These might be requests from teachers’ wish lists that weren’t entirely filled at the beginning of the year (many teachers make Amazon lists with items needed for their classrooms) or bigger projects that could use a financial donation.

Some schools may also have their students fill out lists that community members can supply, including both needs and wants. Subaru partners with, which connects school needs with support.

SEPTEMBER – Fulfill Neighbors’ Wishes

Look at local “Buy Nothing” groups for inspiration. During the year, these Facebook groups, also called “Gifts and Wishes,” focus on neighbors giving and receiving free items to reduce the environmental impacts of buying new.

These posts can often include – or maybe you can spearhead – links of what people need for the holidays. Facebook groups can include anonymous requests from users, which can help protect individuals’ privacy while still making it possible to donate and help.

OCTOBER – Volunteer to Help, or Adopt, a Dog

October is Subaru Loves Pets® month, and many retailers partner with local pet shelters for adopting events. In Charlottesville, Virginia, Flow Subaru partnered with the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA in 2023. The sales manager of the retailer, Joe Diggs, ended up finding a new family friend.

He had lost the family dog, Charlie, months earlier, and was considering adoption. Stopping by with his wife and 2-year-old daughter, they met a dog called Ted that had been left at the shelter as a stray and was having a tough time adjusting to the bustling shelter. Ted loves “basking in the backyard sun,” Diggs says. “He has been a member of our family since the moment he walked through the door.”

If adopting a dog isn’t in your future, consider volunteering or donating food or other needed supplies to an animal shelter.

NOVEMBER – Donate a Turkey or Tree

Donate holiday decorations, such as a Christmas tree. Some cities have groups that organize a donation. The Christmas Tree Project, for instance, pairs families who cannot afford a tree with people who’d like to donate one. This can brighten a home and everyone’s spirits!

For Thanksgiving, consider donating a turkey to a local family or kitchen. But check their suggestions for how to give back first – Feeding America® advises that a frozen turkey shouldn’t be dropped off unless a local food bank is requesting donations for them.

A black chalk board framed in wood that says, Thank you for shopping local in white chalk.
Photo: Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

DECEMBER – Commit to Shopping at Local Businesses  

Create your own 12 Days of Supporting Local Businesses. Make a plan to find gifts or meal ingredients at local shops in your area. For bonus good-neighbor points, post about your actions on social media to inspire others to do the same.

It takes some planning, but it can be a good exercise to find out what’s offered near you and to intentionally explore and find places that support local shop owners instead of ordering everything online. (Plus, it reduces the environmental impacts from shipping items!)