It’s generally assumed that the holiday season is a joyous one filled with love, laughter, and family get-togethers.
Unfortunately, this isn’t true for everyone. Some people may struggle with health issues, isolation, depression, or job loss, making it hard for them to enjoy the festivities. So be deliberate about showing kindness not only to the people in your life but also to your fellow community members—doing so may have a powerful impact on both you and those you serve. Here are some suggestions for giving back.
Help the elderly
The holidays can be one of the most challenging times of the year for older people who live alone or in an assisted-living facility, especially if they are far from family. However, even the smallest act of kindness can lift their spirits.
- Take an older person for a car ride to see holiday decorations in the area.
- Help them shop for and wrap holiday gifts, then deliver the gifts to the recipients if possible.
- Cook and deliver a few hot meals to them, or take them food shopping.
- Visit them in their home or senior facility, and bring a game or a small arts and crafts project to do with them.
- Shovel and salt their walkways, and take their trash cans to and from the curbside.
Encourage you children to help other children
Teach your children about empathy by urging them to help and relate to children less fortunate than themselves. The holiday season is a great time to foster this awareness by taking them to a children’s hospital or shelter, where they can do the following activities.
- Write notes for children who are hospital bound or in shelters.
- Give out crayons, coloring books, and puzzles.
- Deliver a Christmas stocking with small toys and crafts or a Hanukkah bag with cookies, a dreidel, and holiday-themed coloring books.
- Gather a group of friends to make holiday decorations, then bring the crafts to children in shelters or hospitals.
Recognize public-service and hospitality workers
Public-service and hospitality employees work hard daily to ensure that you receive the services you want and need. Letting them know you appreciate them will go a long way toward making them feel valued.
- Send a care package to someone in the military to thank them for their service.
- Bring holiday cookies to local law-enforcement officers and firefighters.
- Leave a bag of holiday treats and a thank-you note for your mail carrier and UPS, FedEx, and Amazon drivers.
- Add an extra tip for a server at your favorite restaurant.
- Purchase scratch-off tickets for your babysitter, pet sitter, maintenance worker, and neighborhood trash collector.
Give back to local charities, food banks, or homeless shelters
There’s always a need for more volunteers and resources to help those less fortunate, and these deficiencies are even more pronounced during this time of year. So pick a charity, and donate money or your time. Even a little bit can make a big difference.
- Volunteer to help serve food at your local homeless or food shelter on Thanksgiving or Christmas.
- Give a homeless person a meal, or buy them a gift card from a food store or eatery.
- Assemble a bag of toiletries, socks, gloves, and spare blankets for the homeless.
- Donate diapers, clothing (used or new), toiletries, toys, and books to women’s shelters.
- Bring canned, nonperishable goods to your local food pantry or food bank.
- Donate pet food and supplies to an animal shelter.
Daily acts of kindness
Demonstrating kindness during the holidays, when stress levels are often at their highest, will brighten anyone’s day. It can be as simple as smiling at another person, letting someone go ahead of you in line, or paying for a cup of coffee for the person behind you.
Never underestimate the power of kindness. No matter what time of year it is, always look for ways to extend a hand to help a fellow human being. Whether you organize a visit to a senior home, hospital, or shelter to sing carols, bake holiday cookies, or simply pay it forward, you can’t go wrong when you help others.