By Phyllis Cambria

With all of the devastation seen daily from the recent hurricanes, many businesses and people are finding it difficult think about hosting or attending holiday events. Instead, many people are choosing alternatives to the normal holiday celebrations. 

Halloween is a terrific opportunity to teach children about charity. Just as many kids ďTrick or Treat for UNICEF,Ē children can still enjoy the October costume ritual while helping others. 

Instead of asking for candy when youngsters go door to door on Halloween, encourage them to collect money that can be sent to hurricane relief agencies such as the Red Cross. Itís a great lesson for children and most neighbors will likely give the kids money and candy. 

Most of us joke about what we are going to do with all of the Thanksgiving or holiday meal leftovers. We complain about overeating and there being too much food on the table. This year, instead of making a turkey or roast with a dozen side dishes, consider reducing the amount of food youíll serve your guests and send the money you would have spent to a local charity or hurricane relief agency. 

Tell your guests what you plan to do and invite them to participate by either bringing along some non-perishable food to be donated to an area food bank or allowing them to make a cash donation that you can send as a group to a charity. 

Even if you donít live in a community thatís been affected by the hurricanes, there are still likely to be many in your area who need your help. Since youíre not cooking as much, you may decide to use your extra time to volunteer at a local soup kitchen to dispense dinner to the homeless where you live. Youíll never feel more thankful than when you are helping others. 

This Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, you may choose to send contributions, in lieu of giving gifts, to a charity in the name of a friend or family member. Then, instead of opening a present, you can create a certificate showing that a contribution was made in their name. 

Very small children might not understand why they arenít receiving presents, so itís best to limit this type of activity to older children who you might purchase a token gift for and adults. After all, do they really need another sweater, toy or tie? 

Best of all, by taking this charitable route, you get to donate to a worthy cause, someone who really needs the help will receive it, and you donít have to fight the crowds at the mall. Itís a win-win-win situation. 

Itís supposed to be a season of giving. This year, why not give where itís needed most?