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How To Help Your Local Animal Shelters This Holiday Season

Because everyone deserves some extra cheer this time of year.

Between six to seven million dogs and cats enter shelters across America each year. The U.S. has at least 70 million stray cats alone; many stray animals are most likely "lost pets who were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification."

There are nearly 3,500 animal shelters across the country that are providing care and comfort to those animals. In the spirit of the holiday season, consider these ways of giving back and helping out an animal in need through your local shelter, as told to BuzzFeed from the Humane Society of New York:

1. Give a monetary donation.

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Check your local shelter's website for exact information of how to donate; there may be a special fund for a specific animal or a general donation pool. (If you're interested in donating, HSNY recommends checking Charity Navigator first to make sure it's a legitimate destination.

2. Spend a little time as a volunteer.

3. Donate new (or used!) goods/items/supplies.

Getty Images/iStockphoto TracyHornbrook / Thinkstock

There are so many things required to keep a shelter healthy and thriving. These can even be items you've previously owned/used. Many shelters have wishlists online just for this purpose.

In case you need some inspiration, here are some ideas of what to donate:

Paper towels

Getty Images/iStockphoto igorr1 / Thinkstock

Old dog beds/crates

As shown here, they can be repurposed for all kinds of animals to use.

Bags/cans of pet food

Getty Images/iStockphoto antpkr / Thinkstock

Shelving units/cardboard boxes

Old towels/sheets/linens

Getty Images/iStockphoto Olga_Danylenko / Thinkstock

This is a great time, if you happen to be in the process of buying new linens, to donate your old ones. They go to a good home and you get rid of some clutter!

Old newspapers

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Just in case your recycling pile is stacking up.

4. Spread the word.

5. Use your other talents.

Getty Images Emma Innocenti / Thinkstock

Are you great at designing things? Or maybe you have a really popular ~online e-zine blog~? Take your other talents and see how you can put them to use for your local shelter. Reach out and see if they could work with you and your awesome ideas!

6. Don't wait!

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