You already know how much we here at Ally believe in saving. But do you also know how much we support giving? In fact, Ally Financial has declared November “Giving Back Month.” Throughout November, we’re encouraging everyone to give back to their communities and share stories of their volunteerism.

If you’re looking to give back, the holiday season has plenty of opportunities. Whether you’d like to make this an individual or group effort – possibly with your children or even grandchildren – here are some ways to volunteer during the holidays:

Feeding the hungry

Opportunities_for_Volunteering_During_the_HolidaysThanksgiving is the time when we celebrate our good fortunes over a good meal. For those who could use a little more of both, there are several ways to help. If you’d like to help deliver food to seniors, check out Meals on Wheels to locate an affiliate near you. Or you can volunteer at a food bank via Feeding America or at a soup kitchen via The Salvation Army, the National Coalition for the Homeless or

Collecting gifts for those in need

Donating holiday gifts to those in need is always a great way to chip in. But if you’d like to do even more, consider taking on a leadership role at a charity. Toys for Tots, for instance, gives you the opportunity to gather toys for the organization, host Toys for Tots events or volunteer at one of the organization’s local warehouses. The Salvation Army, meanwhile, runs the Online Red Kettle campaign, which allows you to launch your own Red Kettle fundraiser effort online. With it you can work to provide toys for kids, coats for the homeless and much more.

Visiting the elderly

The majority of nursing home residents don’t get visitors, according to The Senior Source, which means nursing and retirement homes are places where you can really make a difference. Contact senior homes in your area to find out how you can help. You may simply visit the residents or find yourself engaging in activities, such as reading to them, or even helping to host dances and games like bingo.

Volunteering for veterans

Veterans and their families are another group you can help during the holidays. The VA Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, for instance, is looking for volunteers who can do arts and crafts, sing, play instruments and work on talent shows. To find a veteran’s facility near you, check out the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Helping out at animal shelters

Animals at the local shelter may not know it’s the holidays, but they can use your help just the same – especially if a shelter’s regular staff is taking time off. Call your local shelters to ask how you can contribute, or look up ways to help at Petfinder.

Taking a volunteer vacation

Volunteering during the holidays doesn’t always mean you have to stay local. Volunteer vacations allow you to combine traditional travel with volunteer activities – sometimes even while you stay at luxury hotels. The Ritz-Carlton, for example, runs the Give Back Getaways® program, which allows guests to participate in half-day “voluntourism” experiences. Other volunteer vacations can include anything from teaching English in foreign countries to helping build houses in Haiti, notes CNN Travel. To find the right volunteer vacation for you, start by checking out Hands Up Holidays and The International Volunteer Programs Association.

Becoming a Giving Back ally

If you’ve given back this season – or any season – we’d love to hear about it. As part of our Giving Back Month, we’re inviting you to become a Giving Back ally. Being a Giving Back ally means encouraging and creating awareness about the importance of giving back – through volunteerism, donations and a dedication to making our communities a better place to live, work and play. Here’s how to get involved:

  • Follow @Ally on Twitter through the month of November as we support nonprofits that make a difference in financial literacy and community service. Through our Giving Back Month retweet campaign, we’ll donate to the designated charities.
  • Share your stories of Giving Back by using the hashtag #AllyGivingBack on Twitter or Facebook and get others on board too!

And if you’ve yet to give back this year, we invite you to take “The Pledge” – your promise to make at least one donation or volunteer effort in support of your local community during Giving Back Month 2013.

How do you give back during the holidays? Does your family volunteer together?