The end of the year is coming and with it holidays, get-togethers, and finding ways to give back to others. While doing for those in need is something many of us do throughout the year, the tradition of giving presents during the holiday season highlights what many lack and a wish to make up for it.
Whether you give money, your time, or something else, the gift of giving is precious and appreciated. This time of year, we’d like to share a few ways to do something that helps those most in need if you’re looking to give back and pay it forward.
Food for the hungry
Hunger is fascinating. It has no socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, or gender bias. It doesn’t care who or what you are. Until it’s severe and true starvation, it shows no signs from the outside. The person next door could be dealing with food disparity and you wouldn’t even know.
Ten percent of the global population reports food insecurity. Here are some ways you can lower that even just a little bit.
No Kid Hungry: Ending Childhood Hunger
You may not remember, but No Kid Hungry is an organization near and dear to our sleep guru, Jeff Bridges’ heart. Whether you purchase from brands that support the group, round up your dollars when you order food to go, give money directly, or you attend/sponsor a No Kid Hungry culinary event, the goal is to eradicate childhood hunger wherever possible. Lofty? Maybe. Necessary? Definitely.
Whether at work, with your family, or in your neighborhood, you can organize a food drive for your local community, an organization of choice, or even a family. With your help and those around you, the canned goods and non-perishables collected will bring relief to those in need to help them sustain and maintain their health and well-being.
Cook/make sandwiches for homeless and others
Soup kitchens are not just in movies. There are global needs for food and cooking or preparing food in some way for anyone lacking, which helps them tremendously. Even if you have no culinary skill, putting together sandwiches or bag lunches for any and everyone — whether homeless, homed and dealing with food insecurity, or military vets craving dishes that remind them of home — brings solace and relief.
Our health is too often taken for granted and in the last three years, that’s no longer an option. Giving someone their life back is extraordinary and appreciated for years to come.
Whether going through the Red Cross or accessing a donor portal like Vitalant to get insight into various global outlets, giving blood is vital especially now. The world is dealing with a dangerously low supply and providing even a pint is a life-saving gift.
Donating while alive or being an organ donor upon your passing, these gifts of life are vital and life-changing. Many of us designate ourselves as organ donors with local government agencies to take our healthy parts upon our death but if you are seeking ways to help and don’t know how, organdonor.gov and Global Organization of Donations and Transplantation provide information on how to give those healthy parts of you — while you are here or after you are gone — to those in need.
Children and families
Giving time to the Ronald McDonald House to support families of children battling severe illness or helping a child achieve their dream before passing through the Make a Wish Foundation are two things among many that change the lives of those children dealing with health issues in the world.
Sometimes, however, well… kids and families just need a little help. They don’t have anyone but themselves and the system. That’s when you can do things like fill backpacks with school supplies for children without, or even putting together essentials in what is known as sweet bags or sweet cases to make foster kids feel valuable when moving from house to house.
Adopt a family in your neighborhood to make their holiday or life a little better. The anomaly of force majeur — those things that are beyond our control — hits us all at one time or another, no matter our age, no matter how hard we work or try, and we just need, well, help. Remembering we are all just whispers away from a bad day becoming a life struggle can make us turn around and be there for others when they are caught in the whirlwind of unexpected events.
Local, neighborhood, your own backyard
Reading at the nursing home down the street, tipping extra at your local Mom & Pop Eatery, stopping and listening to a friend or family member in need — all of these and more are ways to give back to those in your local community, neighborhood, town, inner circle. Slowing down and taking a moment to do for those closest and dearest may not seem like it makes a giant difference, but it does to the person you help, the one to whom you give of your time, your heart, your ear.
Too often we feel alone and lost during the holidays. That cheer doesn’t always equate to what we are going through as the end-of-the-year shows up. But if you just take a moment for someone, it can act like a salve on the soul.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that and as we enter this holiday season, we see its truth. As we said at the start, the time for giving has no specific timeframe. It is something to do whenever possible throughout the year. It’s not just about donating money but giving of yourself or your gifts to someone in need.
We all need help at one time or another and when we get to the other side, paying that forward is karmic beauty.