Black Friday Gifts from the Heart

Today is Black Friday and reportedly thousands of shoppers stood in line for hours outside of many retailers. Already, there are reports of injured men and women caught in the Black Friday mayhem at Wal-Mart stores in South Carolina, North Carolina and California. It is estimated that 152 million people will shop over the Black Friday weekend. And a 2010 survey reports that $42 billion was spent during last year's Black Friday shopping spree.

With numbers like these, one would think that America’s financial crises have subsided. Sadly, that is not the case. Foreclosures for 2011 are expected to top the 2010 foreclosure rate. And although the unemployment rate has dropped slightly, there are still 13.9 workers unemployed.

With Black Friday being the most popular shopping day of the year, it is safe to say that millions of people love to shop. We shop in stores, Internet and from our mobile devices. This is the time to shop for gifts to give to our loved ones and friends. But, you don't have spend hundreds of dollars to show someone you care.

In addition to shopping for loved ones, I’d like to offer a few low cost ideas on how to give the gift of YOU:

1. Donate to your favorite charity 2. Adopt a senior citizen (Senior citizen homes, Assisted Living Facilities, Adult Day Care Centers) 3. Volunteer at a soup kitchen 4. Join a church or house of worship 5. Gift the gift of Crafting (Scrapbooking, Beaded Jewelry, Knitting0 6. Offer a service pro-bono (Free consultation, Free Workshop, Mentor a professional) 7. Mentor a child 8. Get a pen-pal (Grab a pen and paper and start a letter writing campaign to children living in hospitals) 9. Support a small business 10. Social media for social good (Use your social networks to promote a cause or charity)

I'm not suggesting that this will make the financial crises go away - I wish it were that simple. There are thousands of men, women and children that can benefit from your time, your expertise and your willingness to share. Give the gift of you!

Can you think of additional innovative ways to give this year? Feel free to share them here.