12.08.2020

12 Ways of Giving This Holiday Season

Every year during Christmastime my family adopts a family. But not in the way you think. It would be a small family and a couple of kids who needed extra support over the holidays. I remember going to the toy store with my parents and picking out toys for boys and wondering why we were doing it. As I grew older, this would become a regular holiday tradition and each year we would receive a new family or two to help which always made my family and I so happy. We know it wasn't much that we were doing, but knowing that these kids would receive presents on Christmas was a small gesture and a way to give back during a time when a lot of families, even this year, have struggled the most. 

Rather than giving into the materialism that fuels the holiday season, there are many ways and reasons to be selfless this time of year. Focusing on the joys of others and doing the most you can to give might even change a person's life. So instead of providing links to gifts you can give, I have accumulated 12 different ways you can give back, big or small, to others this year. It's in these small gestures of kindness that I feel our world should and can get into the habit of doing all year round. 

01. Written Sentiments 
This is a classic and inexpensive way to give back. I love sending holiday cards out to friends and family, but there might also be families and individuals who don't receive any word from their loved ones. In this hyper-virtual landscape we have grown accustomed to, I feel like notes and messages have become less genuine. Taking the time to write a thoughtful and personalized note to someone is always a great way to show you care, without the commitment of having to send gifts or a festive emoji-filled text message. 

02. Spreading Love to Nursing Homes
Echoing the above sentiment, many seniors will be alone at nursing homes and in long term care during the holidays. Not only that, but have been isolated for months because of the virus and haven't been able to see family. I've done this in the past and have friends that continue to decorate and create cards filled with love and care to those who might not be able to receive anything from family this year. Research your local nursing homes and get in contact with their front desk to ensure it is safe and they are willing to do so. 

03. Like a Good Neighbor
While not a tangible thing to give, I think this year is when we need to be more compassionate and work as communities to take care of those that live around and next door to us. Whether that be a simple hello to those in your apartment building, plowing your neighbors drive way, or being less angry on the expressway. Think about who surrounds you, perhaps it's your doorman or even your mailman who might benefit from a little kindness and acknowledgement this month. 
04. Mentors, Mentees, and More Friends Please
Since a lot of kids and young people have been socially isolated, many have been without interaction and conversation with other people their age for months. I've been a mentor through DePaul, but there are many other organizations in Chicago that are looking for volunteers to help guide and talk to kids virtually, such as the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. This group in particular provides a one-on-one mentorship program with over 2,000 kids throughout Chicago. From age 7 to high school seniors, they are always looking for volunteers who are looking for a shared opportunity of learning and growth. Plus, helping kids boost their confidence and success in school, which is always an amazing gift to give!

05. Giving Warmth
A simple and traditional way to give and donate to those in need are finding coat drives, shelters, or churches who are looking for gently used or new coat donations. We've had rough winters in Chicago, and I couldn't imagine not having a coat this time of year. So, maybe it's time to clean out a closet and donate for someone who needs it! One organization, Operation Warm, distributed more than 400,000 coats last year to over one thousand different communities. If you are still unsure where to donate coats, the Salvation Army will always accept them, and you can find your local donation center, here

06. Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels is an organization that provides seniors and individuals with disabilities who are homebound with the proper nutritional programs and meals. Especially during a time of isolation and quarantining, having a warm meal can instantly bring joy to someone who is unable to cook for themselves. It is a socially distanced way to give back and take care of your elders this season! And if you're into cooking, why not make an extra plate for someone in need? Here is a link to Meals on Wheels in the Chicago land area for those who would like to get more involved.

07. Zoom Reunions and Reconnecting
Sometimes it goes a long way to check back in with loved ones who we don't think of very often or don't get to see. This year, I was able to create two family reunions with family who live all over the country. One of the most helpful tools I used to create the events were through Facebook. My family and I have a big Facebook group, so I was able to get people to RSVP by creating an event within the platform. There are many other ways to get people together digitally, but even a mass email to family and friends is an effort to show you care. Sometimes just being with family, even online, can be the greatest gift of all. I would also recommend playing Jack Box Games, which are really unique and fun online games you can play directly from your phone! 
08. Adopt a Furry Friend
Who said animals aren't in need this holiday, too? I have a lot of friends who went out and adopted pets during lockdown, but I think more than ever there will be animals in shelters this year. Giving an animal a home not only brings your pet comfort and security, but you also get a new companion who won't judge you for how many Netflix shows you binge! Paws Chicago is currently having a Holiday Adopt-A-Thon with fees waived for adopting adult pets. They also have a great volunteer program for those looking to spend time with furry friends this season! 

09. Give the Gift of Life
This time of year, more and more blood banks are in need of blood. I have yet to donate blood and realize just how important it is to spare healthy blood to those in intensive care who might depend on it. I have a close friend who does it every year and it's as simple as signing a paper and sitting in a chair with a cookie. The Red Cross always has blood drives going on throughout the year and to find one near you, click here

10. Thank Your Mother (Earth)
Give the Earth some love this season and acquire some healthier and more sustainable consumption habits. Maybe it means being more mindful of what you recycle, buying less this season, and giving more thought to how we can take control of our wasteful habits during the holidays. Whether it be reusing gift wrap, reducing the amount of plastic you use to transport your baked goods, or opting to do the dishes instead of using plasticware for Christmas dinner. There are many ways you can waste less, and give more to the planet by being mindful of your consumption.

11. Give a Story to Tell
I've been insanely into reading this year, so much, that I think everybody should have access to the abundance of stories we find at our local libraries that might be closed right now. I know that buying books from Barnes and Noble, such as school books, can be a costly venture. What I have loved seeing throughout my neighborhood are Little Free Libraries. This organization has the largest growing book share movement that spans around the country. If you've ever seen a little cute box resting on someones doorstep with books in it, you can either take a book, leave a book, or trade a book! You can even create a Little Free Library to put in your yard pretty easily. Access to books shouldn't be limited nor should the power of storytelling. 

12. Stay Positive, Test Negative
The absolute gift this year is to keep yourself and those around you safe. I will echo it until everybody continues to comply with their local restrictions and continue wearing a mask. Limit your gatherings, don't travel if it isn't necessary, wash your hands, and be smart about who you're around and where you go. We are all in this together still, so don't forget to do your part this winter. The only thing we shouldn't be giving to other people is germs. To find your local testing sites, click here

I know this was a short list, so feel free to comment more ways of giving in the comment section below! As this year has proved to challenge us all, I challenge you to be more selfless, as I will myself. In a world filled with uncertainty, sadness, and despair, I am finding sparks of hope and light by those around me who are always going above and beyond to do something for others. It can be as simple as a smile or a thank you. I believe that we can be better. I believe in the harmony of humanity and I hope you do too this holiday season. X

2 comments

  1. Such lovely ways of giving back after such a tough year for many in different ways. Thank you for sharing x
    www.amberatlanta.blogspot.co.uk

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Amber! I thought so too :) Sending love and joy to you this season and for always reading my blog! XXX

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