With the holidays upon us it’s easy to get mired down in the usual craziness that comes with them, but if you really want to embody the spirit of the season, I’d encourage you to do something that gives back to those less fortunate. I know it is this time of year that I’m reminded of how much I’ve been given and it’s a really great feeling to help make someone else’s holiday a little brighter. There are always the obvious ways to donate–the Salvation Army comes to mind with their traditional holiday season bell ringers, but here are a few other ways you might want to consider making a difference in someone’s life:
- Donate to a local food pantry. Many shelters are looking for donations this time of year, especially with holiday meals on the menu. Fruits & Veggies–More Matters even has some ways you can donate healthier items so that those in need are receiving good nutrition!
- Adopt a family. This is a really fun group activity. Let’s say you have a book club or a team at work–consider adopting a needy family for the holidays. I’ve done this through an organization like the United Way where they provide what the family needs and as a group you go in together and purchase those items. It typically means items for a holiday dinner and gifts for the children in the family. We ended up throwing in extra items and found this to be a really rewarding experience.
- Give your time. Often the most rewarding thing is donating your time to help at a shelter. I joined a group of colleagues a few times to serve lunch at a soup kitchen and it really puts things into perspective–not only do you find yourself thankful for what you have, but you also have much more empathy for those who are going through a rough time in their lives. I’d even suggest doing something like this as a family if you have older teens–it’s a good lesson for them. Another option is spending time at a nursing home with elderly patients who may not have family that live close by.
There are plenty of choices–just visit your local United Way website to see what is available near you. I can promise you that giving back to your community will be a present you’ll end up giving to yourself!