Heading into fall and winter is an exciting time of year for many people. As the weather turns crisper and colder and we watch the changing leaves fall to the ground, we let ourselves get excited for the holidays. And, while it’s fun to buy gifts for our family and loved ones, it’s also important to remember those who have less than us. Maybe you grew up with a family tradition of volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving or Christmas day. While this is an admirable thing to do, most shelters and non-profits need help year-round and throughout the winter months. There are ways that you can give back to your community or others across the globe during the holiday season, which is the greatest gift you can give.
Studies have shown over and over that those who are more generous with their time and money tend to live happier and more fulfilling lives. So, let us look at some ways you can give your time and service to those in need.
Volunteer Your Time
As mentioned above, many people volunteer their time to help feed the needy in their communities on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. But, the truth is, there are non-profits in virtually every community – yours included – that need help year-round. You could volunteer to help prepare meals or deliver them. You could also volunteer your time by getting involved in community organizations that help underprivileged children in many ways – like teaching them literacy, athletic and homemaking skills – the list is endless. So, get online and see what calls to you to make a difference in your community simply by volunteering your time.
Donate Necessary Goods
Whenever there is a natural disaster, the organizations always respond with – we don’t need clothing and blankets; we need money for other necessities. One of the most commonly in-demand items for homeless shelters is socks. While donating clothing you no longer need is an admirable thing to do – and you should continue to do so – reach out to local domestic violence and homeless shelters and see what they’re genuinely in need of. Maybe you’ve found a new favorite type of reusable floss picks and now find yourself with a surplus of your old, unopened dental floss – these are the things these shelters need.
So, look around your house and see if you have unopened and unused toiletries, box them up, and call your local charities to see who is needed. If you have the financial means, going to your local big-box store and purchasing diapers, feminine products, toothbrushes, and toiletries to donate is a fantastic idea. The same is true when it comes to underwear and socks.
Play Santa This Year
Sometimes when we look around our house as parents, we get overwhelmed and frustrated at how many toys our children have – and sometimes how little we appreciate them. It’s easy to forget that there are children that have little to no toys. While you could donate your children’s gently used toys to shelters and other organizations, why not play Santa this year and buy new toys for children in need.
Every child deserves to have something under the tree to open on Christmas morning, and there are plenty of organizations dedicated to making this happen. Whether you want to sponsor a child through the Salvation, donate to Toys For Tots or find a more locally centric organization to give to, you’ll feel great knowing you made a difference and brought that child joy. But, more important than how you will think is how that child feels. Be the difference for that child, or several if you can afford to.
Making a difference in someone’s life will one hundred percent make a difference in your life as well. We’re all here co-existing on this planet together, but it’s easy to lose sight of how connected and similar we all are. Hopefully, these ideas inspired you to take a look around, count your blessings and see how you can make a difference in someone’s life and your local community. Happy Holidays!