8 ways you can lend a hand for the holidays

Grab your scarf and mittens and go Christmas caroling. Our senior friends at adult day care or a rest home would love to see your smile and hear your singing voice. Carol during the day with friends, neighbors or your family.

1. MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE

Grab your scarf and mittens and go Christmas caroling. Our senior friends at adult day care or a rest home would love to see your smile and hear your singing voice. Carol during the day with friends, neighbors or your family. Christmas song lyrics sheets can be printed for free online at christmas-carol-words.com. Don’t forget to grab your jingle bells, and make noise shakers and drums from oatmeal containers to use as your backup band.

2. TIDINGS FOR TROOPS

Cards with well-wishes for a Happy New Year, expressing thanks and good cheer are always appreciated by our soldiers overseas. It is fun to make homemade cards and pictures to mail. An easy item to include that our military men and women really enjoy is chewing gum. Please contact your local USO office or Red Cross Military Service for address information.

3. GOOD WILL AND GREEN BEANS

Crack open your piggy bank and go shopping for canned goods and nonperishable items to donate to a local food bank. Peanut butter, jelly, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta and rice are some of the most popular items needed.You could include some wrapped candy as a special holiday treat. Homemade cards of hope and good cheer are always welcome.

4. SHARE COMFORT AND JOY WITH OTHERS

Fleece blankets are so cozy and simple to make.They require no sewing, and many people would love to have one to help them stay warm this winter. Picking out the materials at the store will be the biggest challenge! This would be perfect as an afternoon project with family or friends. Blankets can be taken and donated to the Red Cross, Domestic Violence Shelter or Meals on Wheels programs.

NO-SEW FLEECE BLANKET
Two (2) 60”x72” pieces of fleece
Measuring tape or yardstick
Scissors

Line up the 2 fabrics, trim to same size. Cut a 5” square from each of the four corners. Cut fringe on all sides of the blanket, cutting through both layers of fabric at the same time. Fringe pieces should be a little wider than the width of your finger. Cut 5” in from the edge. Tie knots with fringe from top and bottom fabric. Work your way around the whole blanket. Snuggle up or give away to share the warmth.

5. FOR FURRY FRIENDS, TOO

Animal shelters would love to have holiday visitors pet, clean the cages of and help take care of cats and dogs over the holidays. Making decorated lunch bags filled with cat or dog food would be a fun present for these furry friends to receive this holiday season. Call your local animal shelter to make your volunteer arrangements.

6. POP IN WITH GOOD CHEER

Making popcorn balls is a lot of gooey fun and a great treat to share with folks at a local soup kitchen, Salvation Army or mission as a special treat for their visitors. Use food coloring such as red or green to add color for the season. Be sure to wrap them individually and store at room temperature. Before delivering these treats, be sure to call your destination ahead of time to make arrangements.

POPCORN BALLS
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 cups popcorn

Pour the sugar, water, syrup, salt and vinegar into a small to medium-sized sauce pan. Stir until completely combined. Cook on high heat until the mixture reaches about 255 degrees. Use a candy thermometer or try dropping some of the mixture into a cup of cold water. It should divide into hard threads. Stir in the vanilla extract. When fully blended, pour mixture on popcorn.To ensure all of the popcorn is covered, try spreading the popcorn on a pan so you can drizzle the mixture evenly onto the popcorn. Allow the mixture to cool. Grease your hands, then take the popcorn and press it into 3” balls. Allow the popcorn to fully cool on wax paper. Wrap individually and store at room temperature.

7. HOLIDAYS ARE FOR THE BIRDS

Gather your friends and family members to make peanut butter pine cone birdfeeders for feathered friends this winter. This recipe is crafty and just a little messy. Call your local park system to see if they have a place for you and your family to hang the bird feeders. Or, donate them to a local senior center for bird lovers to enjoy.

PEANUT BUTTER PINE CONE BIRD FEEDER
Pine cone
Paper plate
Butter knife
Smooth peanut butter
Yarn
Scissors
Birdseed

Cut a long length of yarn to hang the bird feeder.Tie the yarn in a knot around the pine cone near the top.Tie a knot at the end of the yarn. Use the knife to get a large scoop of peanut butter on the paper plate. Use the knife or your fingers to spread the peanut butter in the pine cone and around the edges. Put birdseed on the plate and roll the pine cone in the birdseed.

8. SUGAR AND SPICE —WITH A SWEET FINISH

Baking cookies as a family creates wonderful memories. Cutout cookies, snickerdoodles, thumbprints and gingerbread are loved by many. If you bake extra cookies, contact a local emergency shelter Such as the YWCA, YMCA or Domestic Violence Shelter to share the homemade goodness.

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Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass