We try our hardest to let friends and family know how much we care for them throughout the year, but there are people and causes that we don't always get to thank and show our appreciation for on a daily basis. So this season, we decided to start a new holiday tradition of giving back to those who have given something to us. We chose to donate to three organizations that affect us for the better and give us something to smile about, be thankful for, and/or be thoughtful about: This American Life Do you love listening to podcasts of This American Life as much as we do? Every Monday, we look forward to downloading a new episode of Chicago Public Radio's NPR-syndicated radio show. These wonderful stories of humanity keep us company on the bus and during our gym workouts, and are fodder for many of our conversations with friends. We went here to support free weekly podcasts of This American Life. San Francisco Animal Care and Control We volunteer on the weekends at the San Francisco Animal Care and Control as a dog walker. We get so much joy from hanging out with these funny, furry companions that sometimes we feel like the dogs are giving to us much more than we are giving to them. Since we're not traveling this holiday, we'll be spending some time at the shelter, but we've also donated to Friends of San Francisco Animal Care and Control. United Service Organizations This year is the first that we've given thought to donating to support the troops. Although we're pacifists, we respect and would like to give thanks to the men and women overseas who are making the biggest sacrifice for our country -- their lives. Many of these men and women will be unable to come home for the holidays, so to help bring them a little holiday cheer, we've decided to donate to the USO, a non profit organization that provides "a touch of home" to military personnel and their families via care packages, community centers, housing assistance, and most notably celebrity entertainment tours. When we donated to the USO, we were able to write a personalized holiday e-letter to a soldier. Images (from top left, clockwise): Ira Glass of This American Life, Tyler, USO logo, Crinkles (both dogs are still up for adoption at SF Animal Care and Control).