“Peace on earth, and goodwill towards men.” There’s no shortage of life-affirming mantras to throw around come this time of year, but let’s face it. It’s too easy to get preoccupied with the consumerist aspect of the holiday season. And what’s more — it’s all too easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the season: that charity, benevolence, and mankind’s capacity for empathy are our true salvation, and to truly experience a blissful holiday season, we need to be mindful of what we can do to benefit others.
Here are five ways to give back this holiday season:
One of the things that can make volunteer work more satisfying than merely donating cash or food is that you get to see, potentially even in real time, the positive consequences of your kind deeds. There are few things in the world more gratifying than lending a helping hand, and this will also provide you with an excellent way of getting directly involved within your community. From soup kitchens, to canned-food drives, there are likely several charity events happening near you that you can contribute to.
2. Donate to Water.org
This is the charity that was spearheaded by philanthropists Matt Damon and Gary White to offer clean drinking water to impoverished citizens of the world, where there is no potable water. There are various efforts that are being made to purify drinking water for the denizens of these communities. Visit their website today to learn how you can contribute!
3. Donate Old Clothing
You know what they say — if you haven’t worn it in the past year, chances are, you’ll never wear it again. And what good is it doing you in your closet? You know what else they say — one person’s clutter could be another person’s wardrobe. Ok, maybe no one actually says that, but..point illustrated. The Salvation Army has chapters throughout the country that you can donate to, and you might also consider donating to Goodwill.
4. Visit a Retirement Home
It’s not all about presents and cookies (however great both may be). Sometimes, it’s enough to have a little company. There are likely many people in your community who are living in assisted living programs who don’t have friends and relatives to come dote on them every holiday season. Check to see if any of the retirement homes or assisted living centers in your area need any extra volunteers this season. Maybe you go play some board games, or maybe you just huddle up around the set for a classic Christmas movie marathon (ABC has their 25 Days of Christmas, and DirecTV, Amazon and Netflix have all added to their on demand holiday collections). Just you being there to share some hot might do a world of good for some senior citizens.
5. Make Extra!
Do you usually make two dozen holiday sugar cookies? This year, why not make an extra dozen? Do you cook an eight pound turkey? Why not an 11 pounder? Make a little extra, and stash it in a tupperware. You can then give it to a charity, or even just your neighbors or coworkers. The extra time and ingredients are probably negligible — but the memories that you may help to create…those, at the risk of sounding like a credit card commercial, are priceless.