The holidays should be less about buying more stuff and instead about inspiring kindness and compassion to those in need. I don’t think I have ever looked at my material possessions and felt comforted by them but my warm bed, pillow, hot shower, warm meal, money for organic groceries, time with friends, cozy sweater… these are the things that comfort me and make me realize how blessed I am.
Rarely do we make the choice to engage with the people that need it the most, staying instead in our safe zone with the same familiar faces and familiar places but what about all of the people struggling to feed their kids, feed themselves, pay their rent or even buy a toy for their child? We have the ability to help them but maybe just are not sure how we can make the best impact.
To bring light in someone else’s experience this season you just need to combine your generous heart with creativity and a little resourcefulness.
Below are my favorite ways to give during the holiday season and remember, you don’t have to stop giving after Christmas. You can continue giving like this all year long.
Plan Ahead of Time so you know who will take all your leftover holiday food. Will a local church take it? Will a soup kitchen? They won’t take leftovers but what about if you make a turkey, pie or sides especially for them? Will they pick it up or do you have to drop it off? What about toys? Blankets and sweaters? If they won’t, do they know who will? Ask questions, Get resourceful and partner with others in your community that are hosting charitable community events in your neighborhood.
Gift Cards are a wonderful way to help someone throughout the season. Any grocery store has them so you can gift someone groceries or even a Starbucks card for access to hot cocoa and tea this winter. I also love giving Ross or Target gift cards so those in need can pick up underwear, socks, diapers, toiletries and other essentials that they cannot afford.
Lay Away is available at stores like Kmart and Walmart so why not pay one person’s bill this year? Imagine how a parent must feel who has toys for their tots on layaway but just lost their job and can’t pay their bill. Just call one of these stores and ask to pay a bill for someone that has had trouble paying or their layaway is obviously for kids (i.e. toys instead of flat screen TV’s).
Dear Santa letters are for the asking at your local post office. I know that Christmas is right here, right now but even if Santa is late this year, I can bet that the child on the receiving end won’t care a single bit.
Hot Cocoa and Cookies are appreciated by anyone at anytime. They are also super easy and inexpensive to make and you can even find hot to go cups and brown paper bags for the cookies in the dollar store. From there all you have to do is get in the car and pass them out. Easy breezy!
Thrift Shopping is a great way to pick up inexpensive sweaters, blankets and jackets for the homeless in your community.
Volunteer at any local food bank or shelter to cook seasonal meals for the homeless community. You can also volunteer at a senior center or hospital… People need people like us to make their day a little brighter.
WHATEVER YOU DO BE MINDFUL of the amount of food you are cooking this season and what you are about to throw away at the end of the night that can be made into sandwiches or small meals for the homeless and hungry families in your community. Extra sweets? put them in little brown paper bags. Extra turkey or ham? Make sandwiches. Extra sides? Make small little care packages using all those saved plastic containers in your kitchen drawers.
Throwing food away when people have so little is irresponsible and careless but passing out care packages with friends or your kids is a mindful deliberate way to inspire everyone in your life. This is what leading by example looks like.
Expect Great Things!