Live the Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle! Become a Holiday Helper.
Every holiday, I look forward to re-connecting with family and friends. It’s a treat to spend time together, sharing gifts, and offerings of delicious food. During the holiday season, we also think about giving back. We reach out to neighbors in our community or strangers from afar to offer assistance. At this time of year, we especially think of those in need. During the holidays, anyone can step forward and be a “Holiday Helper.”
There are innumerable ways that we can support our communities around the holidays. Giving of our care, time, money and necessities are just some of the ways that we can support organizations and individuals who need assistance during the holiday season. Last year, I was especially inspired by a local on-line “Buy Nothing” group that I belong to. Throughout the year, members offer up household items that they don’t need and also request things that they do need. The western Massachusetts group I belong to greatly stepped forward to help families that needed something to get through the holidays. From donating food, to clothing and gifts for children, everyone chipped in and we all had the opportunity to witness these gifts and how they impacted our neighbors in our own community. One of the members even donated a vehicle to someone without transportation.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to be a “Holiday Helper,” here are some ideas to get you started:Volunteer for a local organization around the holidays. Food banks and pantries need a ton of help at this time sorting donated goods and preparing meals. And, many other organizations are holding collections for children’s toys, holiday baskets and warm clothing. You can get learn about what organizations need help in your area by going to VolunteerMatch.org. Volunteer Match also collects some amazing stories of volunteers. I love the story they shared about Tricia Collins, whose volunteering activities led to a big change in her career and she was able to give back even more. Here is a quote from Tricia: “When you are getting your hands dirty with other people to solve a problem, not because you’re getting paid but because you want to do it, the relationships are quite different.”
Make the holiday merry for seniors in your community. Spread holiday cheer to seniors in nursing homes by bringing in small gifts to a few seniors that staff members connect you to. Sing carols with your singing group or bring a big batch of cookies for the seniors to enjoy. Or make some greeting cards with the kids to be delivered to homebound seniors receiving meals on wheels.
Give a life-changing gift to Oxfam. Oxfam is a respected international organization providing gifts that help people help themselves. Their “Oxfam Unwrapped” gifts make real improvements to the lives of families around the world who receive these gifts. Giving gifts of livestock is especially popular. You can donate in different amounts to give a gift of livestock: cows at $110, goats at $50 or 2 goats for $100. They have also added many other essential gifts, such as emergency toilets, assistance in digging a well, tree planting and mosquito netting.
Shop at Ten Thousand Villages or buy other fair trade products as gifts. Ten Thousand Villages shops are spread across the US and each store carries a wide selection of wonderful home goods, clothing and other personal items. The products are all created in partnership with artisans from communities around the world in a fair-trade agreement. I personally love to shop at Ten Thousand Villages around the holiday season. They have beautiful gifts and lovely holiday ornaments as well. Stop here to learn more about their mission and their locations. If you don’t have a store in your area you can always buy gifts from their website. Shop here.
Make a Charitable Donation on behalf of a friend as a gift to them. Do you have friends who have everything? Consider giving a gift to their favorite charity. If you’re not sure of their favorite charity, you can always stop at TisBest, a non-profit that can provide you with a gift card that could be used at any charity! Stop by here to learn more.
Offer up random acts of kindness. A random act of kindness will brighten up anyone’s day. Whether paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee while you’re waiting in line, holding the door for someone carrying armloads of package or giving your favorite restaurant server a big tip-you’ll be sure to make both their day and your day merrier. The possibilities are endless! You’ll find a plethora of ideas over at Random Acts of Kindness. Click here to visit their site.
Dole out compliments. Never underestimate the power of a compliment. Offering up sincere compliments is a way for you to share the positive that you see in others around you. We often think that our friends and family know the goodness we feel toward them. But, sharing a compliment will ensure understanding of your positive feelings. It’s especially great to share some compliments with folks who might not get as much recognition as others. Compliments can also be in the form of a note. Just recently, I wrote a handwritten note and sent it back to the cooks at one of my favorite restaurants. Cooks are behind the scenes, so we might forget them. But, they are making us delicious food and it’s good to show your appreciation.
You can teach your kids how to get into the spirit of giving by appointing them (and yourself) as “Holiday Helpers.” Make lists together of some things that you would like to do to give back over the holidays. It could become a holiday tradition. It certainly is common to be a helper when living a Mediterranean Diet & Lifestyle. I hope you enjoy being a “Holiday Helper” this season!