“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Holiday season means spending time with family, exchanging gifts, celebrating traditions and creating wonderful memories with your loved ones. But it is also the perfect time to give back to the community. May be you can start a tradition with your family to do something good, for someone less fortunate.
Remember, “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted” – Aesop.
A few years ago, Amit and I went to a local volunteering location that was setup for the holidays to sort gifts donated by people, organize them by age group and wrap them to be given out at shelters. It was one of the best traditions that we have created ever since. Giving back could be in form of volunteering, donating money, giving your time or even just random acts of kindness.
I have listed some simple, wonderful ways in which you give back and if you have any ideas or things you do – please do share below for me and fellow readers to read.
- Donate your closet extras : This is probably the easiest. Collect your gently worn clothes and bring them a goodwill center. Sometimes, we take blankets, sleeping bags, jackets to the city and hand them out to the homeless people sheltering outside churches.
- Buy a warm meal : Instead of dropping change into a cup, buy someone a warm meal. As kids, whenever we encountered someone asking for money at the signal, dad told us that the money could get used for something not so good ( like a cigarette or beer or worse ) – so instead he encouraged us to bring fruits, bread & jam or even share our chocolates.
- Help a senior citizen : It breaks my heart when I see a senior citizen working in a store pushing carts out in the cold or lugging grocery bags out from the store to go and wait at the bus stop. Help out with carrying bags for them, push a cart or two ( I know a friend who gave the store manager a good sound bite for making an older gentleman push carts! Next time we were in the store, the gentleman was bagging at checkout =)) )
- Organize a drive: Check at a local shelter for items that are in need of and you can organize a drive – reach out to your friends, colleagues, use social media to reach a larger audience. There are people who want to do something nice but don’t know how or what to do – this will help them do their bit as well. A lot of corporate offices conduct drives or giving trees during the holidays – keep an eye out for those emails or ask your friends to let you know if they have anything going on at their work place, where they can contribute as well.
- Shop a little extra : While you are snagging amazing gifts for your loved ones and yourself during the holiday sales, buy a few extra gloves and scarves to be donated.
- Volunteer : There are soup kitchen, food pantries, animal rescue shelters, homeless shelters that are always looking for volunteers. Google for volunteering options in your neighborhood. Here’s a good listing of options in Boston where you can help out.
- Random acts of kindness : Acts of kindness shouldn’t only be reserved for the less fortunate. Just an unexpected gesture can make someone’s day. Surprise the person behind you in Starbucks by buying his coffee ( just pay extra when paying for yours ). At a family holiday dinner, offer to help with the dishes or clearing out the kitchen instead of sitting with everyone after the delicious meal to watch tv while the host is left behind cleaning up. Call a friend or relative who you haven’t talked with in a while.
It is always rewarding to share a little, spread a little love! Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”