Giving this holiday season
by Pinedale Online!
December 19, 2014
As another year winds down, the Thanksgiving and religious holidays bring the season of giving, getting ready to start a new year a time for review and reflection, and the end of the tax year to bring finances in order. If you find yourself in a position of having fulfilled all your needs and those of your family and still feeling a desire to do more, here are some suggestions for things you can do to spread the spirit of generosity this season to others who might still be struggling and in need of some help.
Make a donation to a worthy cause There are many organizations whose mission it is to help people who are in need or are doing good work for a good cause. There are many unsung heroes who are quietly and selflessly doing good work to help others without asking for personal recognition or glory for themselves. Consider finding an organization or cause in your local community and making a financial donation to help them continue to carry on their good work. Any donation, small or large, would be greatly appreciated to help them do the work they do. Donations to non-profits are tax deductible, if that is a factor for your end-of-year financial considerations. Not all organizations or individuals doing charitable work have that non-profit tax status, but they could still use any monetary donations to carry on their work for great causes. Even young children can be taught to donate and start learning the value of giving a dime, 25 cents or a dollar to a cause. Your spare change dropped into a donation box sitting on the counter can really add up to help that organization that is trying to fundraise and supplement their coffers helping people or animals in need.
Consider volunteering your time Do you have some free time and are looking for something interesting and fun to do or as a way to meet some new people who share the same interests you do? Volunteerism to local organizations has been on the decline in general for the past years across the country. If you have a desire to give back to the community in some way, find a worthy local organization that could use your help or skill set and offer them some of your time or expertise. If you like animals, help out at a local animal shelter or volunteer to be a host family for an animall waiting for adoption. If you have a passion for history, consider volunteering at your local museum. If you like kids, offer to help at a local school or to mentor with a local Big Brothers, Big Sisters type program. If you are community minded, consider helping at a local recycling center, food basket or shelter. Help a scout troop or church youth group keep going. Teach kids skills many donít get at home or in school anymore, like how to cook, sew, tie a knot, learn self-defense or how to shoot responsibly, how to use shop tools to build something, how to garden and grow things, how to take care of animalsÖ
Teach a kid the value of community service Teaching kids while they are young to become community-minded and giving of their time is a gift that will help them learn to think about others and not just themselves as they move through their life path. This is a great place where grandparents can help step in where busy parents donít have time (or perhaps havenít learned this lesson themselves) to think about passing the spirit of selfless giving on to the next generation. If youíve gotten all the golf games in you can stand for awhile and retirement playtime is getting a bit stale, consider finding ways to spend time with local area youth to help them learn to do meaningful things that are community-service oriented. Help a scout troop or church youth group find and organize a worthy project to do; become involved as a coach or helper with local youth sports programs to do things to fundraise for their cause; organizing a group to do clean-up in your community and then maintain it to keep it clean over time; help a school group that is trying to fundraise for a kid trip or activity find a cause to do that also helps the community. If you see an individual kid that is setting themselves apart in some meaningful way with leadership skills, find a way to encourage them to build their self-confidence and skills so they learn the value of becoming a giving person.
Going above and beyond If you have bigger ambitions, time and money, and are looking for a grand worthy cause beyond local needs, there are many people who are truly struggling in farther away places. If you have valuable skills or expertise, consider giving of your time or talents to an organization that works with third-world countries or disadvantaged communities to help them overcome their problems and issues. There are places where people still live in dirty slums, donít have clean water to drink, donít have electricity, or cannot raise enough food to feed the people living in their area. If you can help with your time, talents or money, these people are really in need and could use your help. There are many organizations and church outreach programs that are devoted to helping these people make their areas healthier and better places to live and would love to help match your skills to their needs.
Giving the gift of Love If youíve done the million presents under the Christmas tree experience and realize you still feel somewhat unfulfilled and see that the kids donít really appreciate what they are getting, consider a change of mind and heart about the meaning of the season. If the latest, greatest new "thing" from Santa is a short-lived delight and no longer brings meaningful joy to your life, consider reconnecting to more simpler and authentic things in life. Whatís the greatest thing you can give for Christmas? Love. The spirit of Christmas doesnít come from the store in boxes and bags, it comes from the heart. How about turning off the electronics this holiday season and spending real time together with the family? Make Christmas cookies together, go out caroling at a senior center, spend family time doing something together you all enjoy. For some people and families this might take some real patience and tolerance to make work in a meaningful way. It might be hard to tear the kids or yourself away from Facebook, Twitter or email, but see if you can survive a day without the electronic fix and being constantly connected to the boob tube television or cell phone beeps and chirps. Can you survive a day of self-entertainment looking at your family members and really listening to what they have to say and finding out about what they are doing and are involved in? Consider a tentative step to reconciling or reconnecting with family or friends that perhaps some past rift may have caused distance. People change and grow over time. If you have room in your heart and mind to replace anger with love, the greatest gift you might give to someone this holiday season might be the gift of getting to see or hear from you again and having you back in a loved oneís life.