With so many dinners, houseguests, shopping lists, and packages, the holidays can feel so…full. It’s lovely, and I’m sure none of us would change it; however, it’s worth noting that some of our neighbors will spend the holidays hungry or homeless or lonely. Some will have to split their time between family and cancer treatments. Some children won’t have presents to open, and some senior citizens won’t have loved ones to visit them.
If this tugs on your heartstrings, it’s meant to; however, I urge you not to feel guilty or overwhelmed about it. Instead, I challenge you to feel empowered.
It turns out charitable gifts are easier to give than you think.
The Gift of Money
Chances are you already donate to and are aware of more charitable organizations than you can count. That’s a good start. Money is often the most efficient way of effecting positive change in our local communities and throughout the world. If you are able to fund a cause near to your heart, keep doing it. If you aren’t sure what causes are out there, sites like GiveWell.org can help you choose the right one.
The Gift of Talents
When The Maids started partnering with Cleaning For A Reason, it was a fairly easy decision for us. Cancer patients needed help cleaning their homes. We are a cleaning company. Our naturally helpful staffs were more than on board, and there was demand in nearly every one of our markets. It wasn’t a question of if; it was a question of when, where, and how many.
The same opportunities are likely there for you. Your gift of home organization, efficient errand running, cooking, writing, emotional empathy, or compassionate support could benefit people in your local community in a number of ways. Never underestimate your gifts in this way; by doing what comes most naturally, we are not only likely to keep doing it, but we actually enjoy it more in the process. An organization like VolunteerMatch helps align work experience and talents with volunteer opportunities in your area. Your local volunteer organization in your county may offer additional choices.
The Gift of Time
Look at your neighborhood. How many people in your building or on your street do you know? In our busy lives, it’s easy to take the small moments in our day-to-day interactions for granted. Give the gift of time this holiday (and every day). Unplug with your kids. Allow someone else to go ahead of you in line at the cashier. Bring dinner to a busy, working single mom. Do yard work for an elderly neighbor. Write letters to loved ones telling them what they mean to you. These small moments, so easily blinked away, are really all we have. Make the most of them, and you’ll make the most of you.
Right this very minute, you have the ability to change someone’s life for the better. Isn’t that amazing? Do any of the above and you’ll see it’s absolutely true. In fact, don’t be surprised if the life you’ve ended up changing is your own.
How are you planning to share the season? Let us know in the comments below!