Have any of you seen Mariah Carey’s video where she falls asleep in her Halloween Costume at 11:59 on Halloween, and then she wakes up decked out in Christmas pajamas with “All I Want For Christmas is You” playing at 12 am on November 1st?
I know it’s only November 3rd, but these last two months of the year are going to fly by! So, here are some ideas for you to think about for giving back this holiday season:
Think Outside the Box
I know that so many people use this time of the year to volunteer at soup kitchens to serve holiday meals to people. Any type of volunteer work is amazing, and it is that busy time of year so it can be really challenging to work it into your schedule. In this case, I suggest you get creative!
Get a Group Together
Consider going through your church or work to find opportunities. It is a good way to get familiar with the organization you are volunteering for when you go with others who have done it before and are a part of your community. Plus, if you are looking for a volunteer opportunity without a commitment, it is likely a community you belong to will have a residual group volunteer commitment where they can swap out group members.
Do Your Research
I don’t know how common knowledge this is, but most volunteering requires a certain time commitment, so it is good to know as much as you can about the organization you are volunteering for. You want to know exactly what you will be doing and what hours you are needed so you know that you will be able to see it through. Ask questions to employees, go to an orientation, and ask other volunteers what their experience is. This will ensure that you find a good fit before you make a commitment.
2) Winter Cleaning and Donating
Do you buy a new jacket every year? Or every other year? Do you have extra hats, gloves, or scarves laying around? What about blankets? Or bedding?
If the answer is yes, I would encourage you to donate your used items to a local shelter! These places will ensure that your items are GIVEN to someone in need rather than sold. Every year since I did a blanket drive in high school, either my friends or my mom would go with me to Denver Rescue Mission to donate blankets and cold weather gear that we had collected.
Your Pile of Blankets Could Have a Function
Living in Colorado, it gets so cold during the winter every night. We might get 60+ degree weather in the middle of winter midday, but the temperatures drop drastically at night which is dangerous to the well-being of the homeless population. Because of this, many homeless stock up on donated blankets and will carry them on them at all times in the winter.
Usually, when we go to the Denver Rescue Mission, there is already a line around the block for people needing to stay in the 18th Street Shelter. This actually gives us the opportunity to interact with others and give blankets directly to them. Just to see their appreciation for something that others once just had laying around the house is so inspiring.
I don’t know about you guys, but I always find myself with an excess of blankets. One time I even had 3 comforters in the trunk of my car and I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe it was a divine thing, because I went for dinner and a movie in Denver with my sisters one snowy night and found one man in need of warmth or shelter.
In hindsight, we could have been more safe about it, but it all worked out in the end. We walked over to my car and I opened up my trunk to then give this nice man those comforters. Just to have something that we could give was awesome.
I have seen other people who say to carry old purses with feminine products and other hygiene products to give to homeless women in need. I think that is a great idea, as well!
The point is, something that you no longer need could be something that is detrimental to someone else. PLUS, if you get rid of these things now, you will get a head start on your spring cleaning!
3) Gifting to Families in Your Community
Many communities will do an outreach program where you and your family, or group, can sponsor another family. In this program, you basically buy gifts for children who may not be getting any presents in their home.
Parker Task Force
In my community, the Parker Task Force has a program called Adopt-A-Family. I remember signing up with the French Honors Society in high school and it was a great experience. What happens is they provide you with a list of likes and interests and the age of each child along with gift ideas. It is then in your hands to purchase the gifts and wrap them. It does get kind of expensive buying for multiple kids, so I suggest signing up with a group of friends, family members, or coworkers. This is just a great way to provide a family with a nice holiday.
4) Spare Change Donations
Grocery Store Give-backs
Growing up, my mom always gave us a dollar or some change to put in the Salvation Army bucket each time we passed the nice, bell-ringing volunteers at the grocery store entryway. This was really instilled in me as a good way to give back during the holiday season, and it is something I still do to this day.
It is the same thing with food drives. There are constantly people collecting donations of nonperishable items outside of the grocery store. This is awesome, too, because all of those items are extremely cost effective and are needed by food banks and task forces all of the time. This holiday season, grab a list and try buying at least one item. It might cost you less than a dollar!
Round-Ups and Extra $$
As I entered adulthood, the round-up donations became huge among retailers and gas stations. It kind of registers as an “unnoticeable” amount, because there are so many times people throw their coins in their purse and just forget about it. That small amount does add up, though! When this became widely practiced, I decided that I would donate anytime I was asked. This isn’t exclusive to the holiday season, either–just more common during this time of year.
I, honestly, just figure this as a part of the cost of going in to the store or part of my purchase, and it still makes a difference!
I hope you find these tips helpful to you as you make your plans to give back this holiday season!
What I am Grateful For Today
I lost a dear friend and regular customer of mine on October 23rd, and his funeral was yesterday. Spending that time with his family and close friends really made me appreciate everything in my life and everything that I have learned from him.
With this weighing heavy on my heart, today I am grateful for:
- Healthy family members
- Quality time with friends
- Random late night conversations
- Sincere people
- Acts of service of others
- Old country music
- Dancing with friends
- Generosity of others
- Learning from my peers
- Living in and working in a family-like community
- My job
- Lady–my puppy
- The thoughtfulness of my brothers girlfriend
- Opportunities to learn
- Charities and community outreach programs
- Inspiring testimonies of others
- My mom
- How much my little brother loves my puppy
- My reliable vehicle
- My goofy dad
- Sunday mornings with my family
- Inspiring entrepreneurs
- People who will always strive to help others
- Meeting new people everyday
- Comforting Scripture
- My last conversation with Matt before he passed when he told me how proud he was of me and how I am living my life
What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments!