Every year the holiday season rolls around. People sometimes get caught up into buying gifts, trying to figure out what’s the best present they can give. This season try to focus on giving new gifts to new people; you would never expect to give to. Try giving love. Love is a great gift to give during the holidays. Many people spend Christmas and New Years alone, because they have nowhere to go- no one to love. Time is a symbol of love. Show people you care by giving up some of your time to help those in need. Further, a new emphasis on what it really means to give should be passed on to youth. What if parents and families took their children to shelters and soup kitchens as a part of their Christmas celebrations, or hosted a child as a part of an Angel Tree? This may be a new tradition some could start. Here are some creative ways to give back during this holiday season:
• Host a Coat or Food Party: Drumming up donations is a great way to start a tradition that not only helps your community but also strengthens bonds within it. It’s great to give some canned goods or your family’s old coats to a charity, but making it a party takes it up a notch. For a coat party, have guests bring coats that are used but still in good condition. If you want to have a food party, ask for canned and dried food and have kids help pack it up for food banks and shelters.
• Help Furry Friends: For animal lovers, helping out at a pet shelter is an easy choice. Donate a few days or just an afternoon to give the regular staff a break and fill in for vacationers. Even during the holidays, dogs need to be walked, cats need petting, and all animals need to be played with, fed, and have their cages cleaned. If you have young or sensitive children, a no-kill shelter is a good option (especially if you don’t want to come home with a new pet!).
• Serve a Senior Citizen: If your child is unable to spend time with his grandparents this season, consider reaching out to an elderly person. The winter and holiday months are often the hardest on the elderly and a little help will be much appreciated. Help your child connect with past generations by visiting with seniors in a retirement community or nursing home. Your child can give manicures or makeovers, deck the halls with boughs of holly jolly décor, help wrap gifts, or read to the hard-of-sight.
• Feed the Needy: The most familiar way to volunteer is still a perfect one: help out at soup kitchen or food bank. The holidays are the busiest time at shelters, and they need help setting up, serving, and cleaning up. If your older child is interested in cooking, he can don an apron and help prepare food in the kitchen