Giving Back this Holiday Season
As we enter the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to focus on gratitude and giving. Choosing to do something good during this time can be the start of a wonderful tradition for yourself or your family. It can also refocus your attention onto something that feels good and alleviate some of the stress of the season. And there are many ways to give back that don’t require a lot of planning.
Little Acts of Kindness
When we think of giving back, it’s often to strangers for some cause. How about looking to family and friends? This time of year can be stressful, so simply reaching out to see how a friend is doing can go a long way. If someone is overworked, volunteer to babysit or walk the dog. Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk. Volunteer to drive a friend to the airport or pick them up. Cook a meal for your sister’s family. Host a movie night and chill with friends. Read a book to kids or an elderly relative. Listen closely in conversation and you’ll hear exactly what those around you need at this time.
Pay it Forward
Another simple, yet clever way to give back is to pay it forward. Get the drink or lunch of the person behind you at the coffee shop. Pay the toll of the car after you. Hand out $5 dollar gift cards to people you interact with such as your bank teller, cashier and coffee barista. Leave a thank you note in your mailbox for the carrier. Add extra tip for the server when you’re out at a restaurant.
Drop off pencils, craft supplies or books at your local school. Instead of food donations, find out if your local food back needs other items, like shampoo, soap, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, and toilet paper. Find a place in your community where you can donate blood. Bring cookies to a local nursing home. Donate your used magazines to someone who is housebound.
Spend time at your local library helping someone with their resume. Send out holiday cards to deployed military members. Get your kids to donate toys or sports gear they no longer use. Volunteer at your local animal shelter.
Smile, hold doors open for others and wish them ‘Happy Holidays’ when out shopping. Say ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ to strangers. Paying it forward doesn’t have to be monetary. Just a smile, will brighten someone’s day and they in turn, will carry that smile to the next person.
Find an Organization that Inspires You
There is so much you can do at any time of the year. It can be volunteering time and/or money. The most important thing is that it resonates with your heart. if you’re unsure of where to start, here are some websites that offer opportunities to make a difference in your community.
Chicago Cares - https://www.chicagocares.org
One Good Deed Chicago - https://onegooddeedchicago.org
VolunteerMatch - https://www.volunteermatch.org
Hands On Suburban Chicago - https://www.handsonsuburbanchicago.org
Donating to a Cause
In the spirit of giving back, I’ve put together a list of organizations close to my heart. Ask your employer if they’re matching donations to causes. And if not, would they consider it?
Salvation Army - https://www.salvationarmy.org
Chicago Food Bank - https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org
Meals on Wheels Chicago - https://www.mealsonwheelschicago.org/volunteer/how-to-help/
Peace Hospice and Palliative Care - https://www.peacehospice.net
The Catholic Charities - https://www.catholiccharities.net
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls - https://www.mercyhome.org
Boys and Girls Clubs Chicago - https://bgcc.org
PAWS Chicago - http://www.pawschicago.org
Chicago Canine Resuce - https://chicagocaninerescue.org/volunteer/
The Anti-Cruelty Society - https://anticruelty.org
I find that when I put my attention on helping others, I receive much more in return. I hope that you receive what you desire. Wishing you a festive season filled with love, laughter and good eats. Happy holidays!