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Giving Back During the Holiday Season
One of the biggest lessons that you can teach your child is how important it is to help others. The holidays are the perfect time to put those words into action. There are many different ways that you can help by giving back during the holiday season (and all year long). I’ve highlighted a few here to give you some ideas to get started, or add to your list.
Send cards to soldiers overseas or veterans at home.
Make cards with your children to send to soldiers who are away from their families this holiday season. One idea is to recycle last years cards by cutting out the picture, and pasting it onto construction paper. The kiddos can then decorate the card as their own. You can send cards and letters to soldiers via Operation We Are Here.
Blessing bags for the homeless
There are so many homeless around the country. Sharing a blessing bag will give the person a little bit of what they might need to help them feel a little better. Simply fill large freezer bags with essentials such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a $5 bill, a comb, granola bars, a pari of socks. There are so many different things you could include. If you don’t feel comfortable handing the blessing bags out you can bring them to your local homeless shelter for distribution. Additional ideas can be found at the Blessingbags.net website.
Visit a Veteran’s Hospital
Last year we went with another family to our local veteran’s hospital. Prior to that children in our son’s school made kindness rocks, and holiday cards. The boys delivered them to veterans that were hospital bound on Christmas Eve. The look on the faces of people that may or may not have had other visitors that day was priceless. It’s an experience that my son still talks about. You can contact your local VA Hospital directly or take a look at the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs website for more ideas on how to volunteer to help our vets.
Contact your local nursing home to connect with a resident.
Try to connect with a local resident of a nursing home. Often times there are residents that don’t get visitors. Connecting with the elderly can be a priceless experience for your child – and for you. Sometimes all they need is a regular visit from someone so they no longer feel invisible. Perhaps you can continue to visit this person throughout the year.
Say thank-you to your local first responders.
People who volunteer for the emergency services in your community are residents just like you, but who often put themselves in harms way to help others such as EMT’s and Firefighters. In addition, these same people volunteer to be on shift during the holidays, missing time with their loved ones to help others. Go visit the corps where they are based. Bring cookies or other baked goods with handwritten thank-you cards. Donate a gift card that will cover dinner for a crew at a local restaurant or a round of ice cream for dessert at the ice cream shop. They’ll appreciate it more than you could imagine.
Donate your gently used toys to the local domestic violence center.
Every year my son packs up toys that he has used but no longer plays with and sends them “back to Santa” to fix, spruce up, and give to children again. You can read all about this family tradition we have in my post Spreading Kindness During the Holidays. Once they are all bagged up and ready for their trip to the North Pole I bring them to our local domestic violence shelter. So often women have to leave with absolutely nothing but their child in order to keep them safe. Having a toy helps the child with that transition. To find out about more ways that you can help with victims of DV, take a look at these resources.
Share your talent.
Do you have a special talent? Do you sing? Are you an artist? Perhaps you love to arrange game nights. Is there a project that you love to lead with people? Bring your talent to a local nursing home, school, or community center and donate your talent to one of their programs. Volunteering to share your talent with others will put a smile on their face for sure. Look into Volunteermatch.com to see where you could help!
Adopt a family or a child at a local church.
Quite often during the holidays churches will have such things like a Giving Tree where people can choose an ornament of some type off of the tree. This ornament will describe something that a parish family or child would like for the holidays that they would otherwise not be able to get. Let your child choose the ornament and help you shop for the item(s). Taking part in such an activity will teach them valuable lessons and help someone at the same time.
Actions speak louder than words.
Whatever it is your family decides to do this holiday season, put action behind your intent. Make it happen. You’ll feel amazing sharing what you can with others.