Spread the Cheer - How to Make a Difference this Holiday Season
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to get caught up in our own busy lives, and forget that the holidays can be difficult for many people.
With a little effort, you can help make a difference in the lives of others, and spread a little holiday cheer. Read on for some ideas to get you started.
Make a Donation
Most charities receive a large percentage of their financial donations during the last few weeks of the year, and there is always a call for donations during the holiday season. If you are in a position to make a charitable donation, I would encourage you to give what you can to a cause that's important to you.
While it's always nice to be able to donate money to charity, there are many other donations that are needed and appreciated at this time of year. Here are a few ideas:
- Donate warm clothing to a homeless shelter. Warm hats, gloves and mitts are always needed, as are coats, scarves, warm socks and blankets.
- Many hospitals and community organizations organize toy drives to help bring a happy Christmas to a child who might not otherwise have one. Consider donating new, unwrapped toys, games, books, art supplies or puzzles to a toy drive in your community.
- The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up some extra non-perishable food items to donate to your local food bank. Toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and shampoo are also useful items to donate.
- Gift cards for grocery stores are greatly appreciated by many non-profit organizations, including shelters, food banks, as they allow them the flexibility to buy the items they need.
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Teresa
Do a Good Deed
The holidays are supposed to be a joyous time, but the reality is quite different for some people. Families that have recently experienced a financial setback, job loss, major illness or death of a loved one may find it hard to celebrate, and individuals who are alone without close family or friends often feel even more isolated during the holiday season.
You can help brighten the day of a neighbour, friend or co-worker by doing something nice for them. It does not have to be something big - simple gestures can be just as impactful as grand ones, and will be less likely to cause the recipient to feel obligated to reciprocate.
Need some ideas? How about:
- Bake them some cookies
- Make up a basket of holiday treats or healthy snacks
- Shovel their driveway
- Bring over a home cooked meal
- Invite their children to a movie or other holiday outing
- Phone them just to say "hi"
- Invite them over for tea or coffee
Many organizations and charities can use extra volunteers during the holiday season. It should be quite easy to find an organization that you can volunteer with for a few hours.
Ways to volunteer during the holidays:
- Help wrap presents for a local toy drive or children's charity
- Serve a meal at a local soup kitchen or church
- Ring the bells at a Salvation Army Christmas kettle
- Assist in packing food hampers
- Deliver meals to seniors
Share the Love
Perhaps the easiest way of all to spread holiday cheer is by doing the following, as often as possible, with as many people as possible:
- Be kind
- Be a good listener
- Offer a friendly word
I recommend these books:
I was inspired to write this article after reading H.O.W. To Give This Christmas: A Pledge to Spread Love by my friend Bill Holland. Bill recently started the H.O.W. movement, which stands for Humanity One World. This article is just one in a series of articles written by Bill and other writers, all doing their part to improve the world in which we live. A Pledge to Spread Love challenges us all to perform one anonymous act of love this Christmas. I encourage you to read it, and follow through on Bill's challenge. I know that I will be!
Best wishes for a happy holiday season - however you choose to celebrate!