This is a guest post by Kristen Levine. She is a pet living expert, author and speaker. She believes we need pets as much as they need us, and thus founded the Kristen Levine Pet Living blog, where she shows people how to live happier, healthier lives through pets. Kristen lives in Florida with her husband, dog, two cats and two miniature donkeys. Every day of the year, animal shelters and rescues around the country give back by saving the lives of millions of homeless pets. This holiday season, why not look for ways to give back to them and show how much you appreciate all their hard work? Here are five ideas to get you started:

Donate Supplies

Animal shelters are often in desperate need of everyday items (both new and used) like blankets, toys, newspapers, collars, leashes and old towels. Pet care products such as Simple Solution All Day Pads and Simple Solution Urine Destroyer can help make cleanup easier and faster for the staff. Before dropping off your donation, it’s a good idea to call first to find out whether they can accept the items you have and what they need the most.

Make a Monetary Donation

Most animal shelters and rescues are either non-profits or funded by local or state governments, and that means they rely heavily on donations from caring pet lovers. So cash is always welcome! Can’t spare the extra cash right now? Good news! There are ways you can make a donation while doing your holiday shopping. One great example is Simply go to their site, choose a rescue/shelter to donate to, and then start shopping. For every purchase you make, a percentage is donated to the shelter of your choice…at no additional cost to you.

Foster a Pet for the Holidays

If you’ve ever thought about fostering a pet, but weren’t sure if it was for you, this is a great time to try it out. Many shelters have short-term fostering programs during the holidays. Not only is this an opportunity for pets to relax in a home environment, it opens up space in the shelter for other pets. Plus, shelters are often short-staffed during the holidays so it’s a great way to lend a helping hand.

Offer Your Talents

Okay, maybe you can’t donate money or foster a pet. But I bet you have other amazing talents you can share. If you’re a great photographer, offer to take fabulous pics of pets needing a home. Social media maven? Share pictures and stories on various platforms to help encourage adoption. Take a look at all the things you do well and how you can put them to work for animals.

Deliver a Pick-Me-Up

Animal shelters and rescues couldn’t run without the dedicated humans behind the scenes. Their devotion to saving the lives of animals is remarkable and they are seemingly tireless in their efforts. But even the most passionate advocate needs a little pick-me-up every now and then. I don’t know about you but for me, there’s nothing that lifts my spirits faster than food! So drop off some freshly baked cookies, a yummy fruit bouquet or a basket of Christmas candy. Be sure to include a handwritten note that lets them know how much you appreciate everything they do for pets! I have fond memories of working at the SPCA Tampa Bay during the holidays. It was always so uplifting to those of us working at the shelter to see people lining up to adopt, donate or volunteer. It uplifted our spirits and helped us realize that so many in our community were supporting and appreciating our hard work. Wishing you merry holiday moments!