“Jingle Bells” blares over every radio station and department store speaker in the country, toy commercials dominate TV air time, and the mantra running through many of our minds is “I want…” While it’s ok to feel giddy about those beautiful gifts under the tree, some could use a helping hand. Get into the season by helping someone else. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1. Give the “12 Days of Christmas”. For twelve days in December, anonymously leave a gift on someone’s porch. It can be treats or fun little gifts, but it can also be something that person might need, like socks or canned food. Make sure you wrap the gift to fight off the weather, like wrapping it in plastic first.
2. Anonymous gift and note. Sometimes, a sincere compliment or even an acknowledgement is the best gift someone can receive. Leave a note and a cookie for your coworker, praising their work or encouraging. They’ll be smiling the rest of the day.
3. Donate a Christmas tree. Buy an artificial tree and decorate it to donate to someone who can’t afford a tree. This is a great activity for kids. Help children make creative ornaments for the tree, and call your community service center to find a family who needs it.
4. Bring a meal. Cook and deliver a hot meal to someone who could use it like an elderly couple, poor students, or the family of a new baby. Make sure to let the recipient know you are coming so they don’t order pizza the same night. Come by a few hours later or the next morning to pick up the dirty dishes if you want them back.
5. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. If you wake up to a layer of fluffy snow, instead of crawling back under the covers, bust out the shovels and clear your neighbor’s driveway before they have to go to work. This is also a great service for the elderly. Also, get the kids in on this one. Snow shoveling is quite a workout and is an awesome way to get kids used to performing service.
6. Visit people who need company. Visit a family member or friend whom you haven’t seen for awhile, or visit a retirement home (call first) to talk to the residents. People often get lonely this time of year, so donate an afternoon and lend a visit.
7. Clean out your closets. Get rid of all those clothes you don’t wear anymore and donate them to a clothing drive or a thrift store. The need for warm winter clothing is high in most cities, so do your part and clear your clutter at the same time.
8. Give your time. Donate a few nights of babysitting to a couple children. Tutor children who struggle with reading. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Organize a food drive. The possibilities here are endless.
9. Donate your talents. Do you play an instrument or sing? Are you a math whiz? Find someone who could benefit from your talents. Nursing homes love for people to perform music, and many elementary and secondary schools appreciate extra tutoring help. Be creative and you can always find someone who’d love your help.
10. Get in touch with your community center. Look in the phone book or online to find a community service center or service programs in your area. Most of them would love an extra hand and if they’re full, they can usually point you to someone who needs you. Look around for opportunities to help, and you’ll always find them.