Just because Thanksgiving is over doesn’t mean you can’t give thanks for your loved ones and your best friends, including your dog! However, there are an estimated 3.9 million dogs in America who enter the shelter system each year. Since we want every pup to find some love and appreciation —  especially during the holiday season —  there are many different ways that dog lovers can give back!

Here are five charitable options to support shelter dogs and other animals.

Host a Donation Drive

A great way to help support in-need dogs this holiday season is to find a local animal charity, shelter, or rescue organization and host a donation drive in support of their initiative. Kids can organize this by setting up a drive at their school or in their neighborhood. Ask people to donate pet food, cleaning supplies, bedding or linens, leashes, collars, towels, and even some dog toys. Even local businesses might want to think about starting a donation drive. It can help improve community outreach projects and also raise more money for in-need animals.  

Promote Shelter Adoption

Promoting shelter adoption can help bring awareness to the many dogs and other domestic animals who are in need of a happy home! Take to social media this holiday season and promote shelter adoption by sharing, retweeting, or tagging a county shelter, favorite breed rescue group, or humane society! Sharing and asking people to help donate in lieu of gifts is also a touching way to put money where it counts. For example, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) distributes millions of dollars to organizations across the United States. This year, you could sponsor an ASPCA virtual fundraising campaign to raise money for the organization instead of receiving holiday gifts.Plus, you may help find a dog find their forever home! Since only 1 in 10 dogs will find a forever family, it’s necessary that people have more awareness about adoption options!

Volunteer at the ASPCA

The ASPCA is a nationally recognized organization that rescues and shelters animals like dogs and cats. Especially during the colder, winter months, animal shelters tend to get packed. Around the holidays, a great idea is to spend time volunteering with lonely dogs, but you could also help relieve the workload of a very busy shelter worker or volunteer. Reach out to your local rescue group and offer to volunteer as holiday or even a short-term foster parent. Check their website for application information. You might even want to visit the shelter and play with multiple dogs at once!

Give Supplies to your Local Shelter

Many shelters operate with modest budgets, so sometimes rescue animals don’t get the comfort they deserve. Email or call a local shelter to see what items or necessities they may need this season. Next time you go shopping, grab a few items on the list. Many shelters need extra laundry detergent, paper towels, dry food, dishes, litter, towels, and blankets. Sometimes these rescue organizations also have wish lists set up on Amazon. This is an easy way to check these items off your shopping list. On a side note, if you donate money through Amazon Smile, the company donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to another charity of your choice. It’s a great way for everyone to pay-it-forward!

Get Crafty!

Dogs love treats and toys! One great way to give back to animals-in-need is to get creative and whip up some snacks in the kitchen or make a dog-friendly toy. There are a lot of dog-healthy holiday recipes you can find on the internet. Get creative and bake some gingerbread dog cookies or make “doggie nog”. There are a ton of recipes online and some of the recipes include ingredients both you and dogs can enjoy.

If you want to get even more creative, try knitting a dog scarf, making a DIY dog toy fishing pole, or creating a chew toy for a pup-in-need. This can bring some love, warmth, and happiness to a dog who might not otherwise have a toy to play with or a person to hug.

Hopefully, these charitable ideas can help create an inspiring holiday story, just like a Charles Dickens novel. It might seem like a chore to pay-it-forward at first, but once you’re reminded of all the sweet dogs-in-need of some love and happiness, it’s an easy way to give back this holiday season!