Giving thanks online
By Erica Hill
CNN Headline News
(CNN) -- Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food but I also love the feeling that no matter where you are celebrating, you're with family.
As cheesy as it may seem, I love the "what I'm thankful for" discussion around the dinner table. This year, as in every year, I have a lot to be thankful for. I also realize I have a lot to share. Thanksgiving is a great time to take stock of your life, and the lives around you.
Despite our good intentions, for many of us the daily grind gets in the way of giving back. We love the idea of volunteering, and have maybe done it a few times, but life seems too hectic to make it a regular occurrence. As much as many of us would like to support a cause or group we believe in, it seems the extra money needed to make a difference is tough to find.
This is where our beloved Internet comes in.
It's a great place to find ways to get involved and make a difference, whether it's one day of volunteering or a lifetime commitment; whether you can spare five dollars for your local soup kitchen or a regular monthly donation, you can find it -- and do it -- online.
A great place to start is VolunteerMatch.org. Founded in 1998, the non-profit group matches volunteers with local community service opportunities throughout the country, and according to its Web site is now "the Web's largest database of volunteer opportunities." All you need is an Internet connection and a ZIP code to get started.
You could also try SERVEnet.org. This site was founded by Youth Service America (YSA), an organization that aims to get young people, ages 5 to 25, involved in their communities.
If your time is tight -- who isn't running on empty during the holidays? -- there are other options. Online giving is easy, and just about every charitable organization has a Web site these days. If you have a favorite cause, search for it online and you'll likely find a way to donate.
If you're looking for an organization, try JustGive.org. The non-profit site lets you search for a charity that meets your goals, and donate online.
Several e-tailers also donate a portion of their sales to charities; check the sites where you shop.
For those of you who are stretched a little thin, charitable donations also make great gifts. A few clicks and your shopping is done and no wrapping necessary.
A few years back, my step-grandmother stopped giving traditional holiday gifts, and instead makes a donation to a charity that my grandfather would have supported. My cousins and I love the idea.
Holidays are all about tradition -- turkey, pumpkin pie, giving thanks -- but there's no reason you can't start a new one. With the help of the Internet, it's fast, easy and one your family will likely be proud to continue.