The holiday season has quickly come upon us and many of us are counting our blessings and thinking of what we are thankful for. Besides, this is what the holiday season is about, right? While being grateful for what we have is wonderful, giving back is just as important. Many people have a hard time around the holidays and by giving back and making a difference, it won't only make their season a little brighter, but it will make yours brighter as well. Here are some ideas on how to make a difference in your community this holiday season.
1. Send Care Packages to Troops
I remember when I was in kindergarten, a girl in my class' dad was overseas in Afghanistan. My teacher had us make care packages and send cards to her dad during the holidays. Many of our troops will spend Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's without their families and many families with military members will have an empty seat at the table. Sending care packages and cards to these people and their families will surely brighten their day and let them know someone out there is thinking about them.
2. Donate Unwanted Items
Christmas gifts will soon be piling up under the tree and we won't know where to put them! The Christmas season is a great time to clean out old toys, clothes, etc. that you haven't used in months and give them to someone who will use them! We are all so fortunate to have too much stuff, while some people have nothing. This way you will clean out your house and give items to people in need.
3. Volunteer or Donate to Animal Shelters
Thinking of getting a new pet for Christmas? Check out your local animal shelter for the perfect new addition to your family. These animals are waiting for homes and many of them are overcrowded. The first dog my family ever had was from a shelter and he was the best dog! If you aren't looking for a new pet, consider volunteering at a shelter or donating toys, food, or even money to one.
4. Provide Children With Christmas Gifts
My church has always filled shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (https://www.samaritanspurse.org) with toys, books, games, and hygiene items for children in third world countries who won't receive Christmas gifts otherwise. There are many other programs that do this locally as well. It is very simple and many of these children won't even care what it is they receive and will be so grateful for anything given to them.
5. Go Christmas Caroling
My show choir in high school went caroling every year to nursing homes in our area. It was so wonderful to see the impact it made on the people in these homes and the smile we put on their faces. Sharing the gift of music is not only fun, but extremely uplifting for people who are feeling down around the holidays. A familiar tune will help everyone get into the holidays spirit.
Although the holiday season is a great time to do so, giving back should be something we do year round. Serving others is so important and usually makes us feel better than it does the people we are serving!