The holidays are here! There’s nothing better than times like this! This is the time of year that we’ve all been waiting for, right? But the thing is, we aren’t 6 anymore and the illusion of Santa giving all the toys of your dreams just isn’t the same. The thing is, despite how “Holly” and “Jolly” this time of year is painted with colorful lights and smiling snowmen, there are unfortunate realities that hide in the shadows of even the most festive of celebrations. Probably the most predominant hardships are those that harp on the homeless or low income families. This includes malnutrition, lack of shelter/proper clothing for the weather, inability to give loved ones gifts, and so much more. Even in the most prosperous of areas, not too far away lies (or hides) a family or individual who could use a little help. Additionally, not all lack of holiday spirit is financially rooted, many don’t have close family or friends who care to celebrate with them, so many find themselves being lonely.
And that’s where we come in! Local people doing local wonders, but think of it as a win-win situation! There are so many different ways you can help, here are 5 EXTREMELY easy ways to help out your local community and make a difference--becauseno action is too small!
1. Donate clothing
If you’re like me, holiday gifts are composed of large amounts of gift cards to my favorite retail stores for new clothing. That being said, I will not need many of my other pieces of clothing as they don’t fit me or I’m into a new fashion craze. So go ahead and clean out your closet for anything that doesn’t fit, or you don’t like and donate to your local homeless shelter/Goodwill/church/etc. Now you can shamelessly have a shopping spree with all your new gift cards and Christmas cash since you actually need some more clothes! Not to mention the good Karma you’ve got heading your way from helping out. It’s a good idea to start soon so you can do a comprehensive cleanse of your closet so you don’t end up hoarding space!
2. Donate Food
Similar to the clothing idea, get started on this soon! For many people the holiday meals are perhaps the main player of the season. That being said, before the New Year rolls around, sneak out to the pantry and snatch all those canned green beans and corn or other non-perishables that you’ve got hidden away. Find your local food pantry or shelter and drop off the food there! There will be no doubt that your donation will at least help out one person in need this time of year. If you find that you have extra cash to spend, you can always head out to your local grocery and check out the post-holiday sales to stock up on non-perishables to donate as well! This will also help you start getting on track for any New Year Resolution Diets!
Yes this time of year is super busy and all we want to do is spend time with family and friends, BUT many people aren’t fortunate to have close family or friends to go to. Check out with any local soup kitchens or churches that are looking for help serving holiday dinners to the homeless or handing out bags of holiday goodies to others! There’s no greater gift that the feeling of giving!
4. “Surprise Santa”
This is a fun project if done collectively. Collect as participants as possible and create goodie bags with some snacks, clothing/blanket, water, and a super happy card with like $10 or a gift card inside. This can be fun as you could organize last minute drive or a get together to help create the goodie bags with friends! Then, when it’s time, head out with your gang and pass out the goodie bags to those who need one! Nothing special or extra, just a short “Happy Holidays” and then you’re off! The amount of happiness that small actions like that can bring is incredible. For an abbreviated version of this, you can sneak over to the dollar store and pick up some holiday cards and stick $5 inside and a happy holiday message. Then keep them with you in your car or bag, and if you happen to stumble upon someone who needs it, you’re ready to hand out help and holiday spirit!
5. Just Spread the Cheer!
Sometimes we find ourselves taking advantage of the holiday season and only valuing it for the commercial aspect. We forget that the most powerful thing about this time of year is knowing how to care for each other. I know it’s hard for some to even afford to do something generous as we have our own things to worry about. And that’s alright, but it just so happens that wishing someone to have a happy holiday, or telling them to have a wonderful day, or that you wish them the best costs NOTHING. So why not go out and wish your neighborhood families a happy holiday? Go ahead and give that lonely lady down the street a flower and wish her a happy holiday. Compliment the cashier at the fast food restaurant, make them smile, make them remember that it’s great to be alive, that there are good people in the world who care about them and even though you are a stranger, you’re rooting for them.
…and for some, no sum of money could equate to the feeling of happiness and thankfulness that they experience when a total stranger tells them they see the goodness.
Happy Holidays to all! Love yourself and others.