Find Inspiration by Giving Back! 11 ways to touch the lives of others this season
The Christmas season is a time when many people experience a desire to “give back” — spiritually, financially, or emotionally. Inspired by our faith, our family, an awareness of our own blessings, or a compassion for others, we may feel the need to pour into the lives of those around us. Our hearts and minds go out to the elderly, or shut in…the sick, or those we know without family…veterans returned home struggling to adapt…and of course, children experiencing poverty (with 1 in 6 families currently in poverty in America, too many children may not necessarily experience a “Merry Christmas” — or even a stable home, for that matter).
Traditional ways to give back include volunteering time or giving to food banks (see http://feedingamerica.org), donating to organizations like Toys for Tots (www.toysfortots.org), or providing coats to keep people warm (the mission at http://onewarmcoat.org).
Here are 11 more ways you can impact the life of someone this season:
- Give while you shop: This is shopping season! Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to donate a portion of every dollar that we spend to our favorite charity? Well there is! iGive allows its members to shop online — and a portion of what you spend will be donated to your charity of choice. Over 900 stores are included! Visit www.igive.com for more details. Membership is free.
- Pass on the donation: This is also a season where we may be cleaning out closets to make space for new clothes and toys. Some people take their giveaways to a consignment shop to get money for donations. This season, instead of taking the donation, request that the consignment shop gives the money to a charity — or donate the money you get to your favorite charity yourself.
- Decorate someone’s home: Many people buy new Christmas decorations each year. Rather than tossing the old ones, use them to decorate someone’s home that is unable to afford decorations — or volunteer to adorn the apartment of an elderly family or community member unable decorate themselves. It will help create a more festive and cheery atmosphere in their environment this Christmas!
- Ask someone to give in your name: If your family and friends are asking what you’d like for Christmas, rather than accepting a gift from them, ask them to donate that money to a charity or organization that’s dear to your heart. Also, Make-A-Wish Foundation is a great way to touch a child’s life all year long (http://www.wish.org)
- Give your Time: Giving doesn’t always require money. Find an organization, shelter, hospital or nursing home that needs volunteers during this season. Give of your time and bring a joy to the lives of others. They will be happy to see you! For steps to finding a volunteer opportunity in your community, check out http://bit.ly/KlmAi.
- Use your talents: Are you good at sewing, writing, singing — or anything else? Think of what your true talents are — and use those to be a blessing to others. You can knit scarves, write poems and make a simple craft gift with them — or even join – or start — a caroling club to brighten up the lives of others (http://bit.ly/svPlvi)
- Support our Soldiers: Men and women that are fighting for our country would love to receive love from the U.S. You can write a letter thanking them for their service…or send food, or gifts that you think they would love! It will make being away from home a little better during the holidays. Operation Gratitude helps you do just this (http://www.operationgratitude.com).
- Use your car as a shuttle: If you have older neighbors or friends without a car who may need extra help getting around during this time of year, offer to pick them up and drive them where they need to go. You’ll be able to spend some time with others in need — and they’ll really appreciate you taking the time to make their lives a little easier.
- Give gifts to the children of inmates: There are many men and women in prison with children; this Christmas, you can help provide them with gifts by visiting www.angeltree.org, an effort of The Prison Fellowship, that works to impact the lives of prisoners and their families through practical and spiritual support.
- Help clean a home for the holidays: Sometimes senior citizens, or those who are suffering from health issues, don’t have the energy or ability to clean their own homes. Volunteering to provide a cleaner environment is a special kind of sacrificial giving that can really add to someone’s sense of well being.
- Give lunch to the homeless: Pack a few brown bags and distribute them to the homeless you may see on the streets, or in your neighborhood. Include a sandwich, chips, a drink, fruit, and a card – maybe even with a devotional message. This will warm their hearts…and yours too! (It’s always wise to travel with friends or in a group, and make safe decisions about when and where to visit; bringing some joy into someone else’s holiday should never mean sacrificing your own safety to do so.)
These are just a few fun, meaningful, and creative ways to give back to your community — but we’d love to hear your ideas too! Share you good ideas in our comments section below – and together, we’ll find ways to stay inspired…by “giving back” to those in need this season!