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Feb. 10

4 Ways to Make Valentine’s Day Sweeter by Giving Gifts and Giving Back

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Dinner reservations, boxes of chocolate, flowers – are you tired of the same old Valentine’s Day traditions? Make Valentine’s Day a little sweeter this year by spending time volunteering and giving back with the ones you love. 

1. Send a Valentine to someone who won’t expect it.

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Valentines and love notes aren’t just for secret crushes. This year, send one (or several!) to someone you think could use a pick-me-up. Many children’s hospitals have great, easy ways to send a Valentine online and brighten a child’s day. Check out Children’s National Medical CenterArkansas Children’s Hospital and Cincinatti Children’s Hospital, or contact your local hospital to get involved. You could also participate in DoSomething.org’s “Love Letters” campaign, to help spread the love to seniors around the country. And, the National Salute to Veteran Patients program, run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages volunteers to contact local VA medical centers to learn about ways to show love and appreciation to veterans during the week of Feb. 14.

2. Visit a local senior center.

Many older folks have lost their spouses, and the holidays can be an especially hard and lonely time for them. Just being there to listen can make a huge difference in a resident’s day. If you prefer a more structured approach, you could plan to perform a short play or a series of songs, inviting seniors to join in by singing or clapping. Other activities include reading, board games, and scrapbooking. For more suggestions on planning your visit, check out this guide to visiting nursing homes.

3. Give a gift that means more.

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Give your significant other a gift that benefits a good cause, or make a charitable donation in their name. Need some gift-buying inspiration? Check out the Make Your Mark charm bangle from Alex & Ani, which benefits our youth service division generationOn.

4. Make a date out of volunteering.

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Few things bring people closer together than volunteering. You get to go do something new and feel all the warm fuzzies you get from helping others. Check out volunteer opportunities at All For Good to find the perfect date activity in your community. Need more convincing? Here are 7 reasons to date a volunteer and 5 reasons to date an AmeriCorps Alum.

BONUS: If your day ends in a marriage proposal, make plans to “celebrate generously.”

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Unless you really need an assortment of gravy boats, consider making charitable giving a big part of your wedding. The I Do Foundation lets you hand-select your favorite causes to incorporate into your registry, your favors, your thank-yous and more.

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