The holidays are a time to relish loved ones and give back.

1. Prepare a Meal

A home-cooked meal may not heal wounds, but it can warm hearts. Cook a meal together and serve it to those staying at The Ronald McDonald House, a place across from Nationwide Children's Hospital that houses families with seriously ill children. For more, call 614-227-3769 or visit RMHC-CentralOhio.org.

2. Sponsor a Family

Let the Salvation Army match your family to one in need through the Adopt-A-Family program. Shop for items on their wish list, wrap the gifts with your kids and drop them off before the holidays. For more, call Lori Banfield at 614-437-2132 or visit SalvationArmyColumbus.org.

3. Help the Homeless

Donate new clothing and toys to the Homeless Families Foundation, which offers a free store each December where disadvantaged parents can "shop" for gifts for their families. Sweatshirts, jeans, socks and underwear are popular wish list staples for infants to teens, and gift wrap offers the families the full gift-giving experience. For more, call 614-461-9247 or visit HomelessFamiliesFoundation.com.

4. Encourage Children's Literacy

Spread the love of reading by donating new or gently used books to other families through Reach Out and Read, a Nationwide Children's Hospital program. Give yours, or visit Barnes & Noble stores during November and December to buy a pre-selected title to give. For more, call 614-355-0518 or visit NationwideChildrens.org/ReachOutAndRead.

5. Feed the Hungry

Organize your own neighborhood food drive, and give the non-perishable goods to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Food Banks. Most wanted items? Beef stew, canned soup, canned vegetables, cereal, peanut butter and tuna fish. Monetary donations are also accepted: $1 can feed a person for four meals. For more, call 614-221-4336 or visit OASHF.org.

Photo by: Will Shilling