I have some bad news. The radio station 93.9 is already playing holiday music. Most kids are still eating Halloween candy, and retailers are already pushing Christmas and Hanukkah on us. Thanksgiving may as well give up.
At this time of year, I begin to experience a kind of malaise. I don’t want to set foot in a mall or even watch television until January. I can’t deal with the non-stop holiday buzz.
The pressure to have the perfectly decorated home, the most wonderful gifts, and the best holiday party is intense.
I have already stressed myself out by searching high and low for just the right pre-lit mantel garland.
I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to take a different approach. I want to set a good example for my child, and let him know that the holidays are not just about conspicuous consumption.
I have put together a list of ways to reach out into your community this holiday season. Isn’t that what the holidays are really about? Cue the violins! All kidding aside, I think the key to a much happier and fulfilling season is to do some good in the community.
Donating money to a charity or giving away canned goods to a food pantry is always a great idea, but what about giving yourself and your time to connect with people?
Here are some opportunities to help!
1. Be Santa for Those in Need
The Christmas Cheer Foundation is an organization that helps make the holidays brighter for Chicago area families in need. Every year, they deliver meals and toys to over 15,000 people who otherwise would not celebrate Christmas. They need volunteers to help organize donations in the weeks prior to Christmas, as well as to make deliveries on Christmas day.
2. Serve a Meal to the Hungry
Instead of donating canned goods to your local food pantry or soup kitchen, why not roll up your sleeves and serve a meal instead? Soup Kitchens need people to serve meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The online Homeless Shelter Directory has a list of soup kitchens in every state. They need people to lend a smile and a ladle to those folks who otherwise would not have a special holiday meal.
3. Reach out to The Lonely
There are many elderly people in our communities who do not have family nearby or may be unable to leave their homes for holiday celebrations because they no longer drive.
Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly is a volunteer organization that provides meals and companionship to isolated seniors. During the holidays, they need volunteers to organize their holiday parties for the elderly, including transporting homebound people to their "family style" celebrations.
4. Give Some Love to Our Furry Friends
Let's not forget all of the stray animals that wind up at shelters-they need us at the holidays too! Taking your kids to volunteer at a local animal shelter will help them gain compassion for animals that have been left out in the cold this winter. Be careful though, you and your kids may end up with a new family member! Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin always needs volunteers, as well as bags of food and pet supplies.
5. Knock on Your Neighbor's Door
Do you know all of your neighbors? Is there a house on your street that seems awfully quiet all of the time? There may be someone in need just a few doors down. A widow, an elderly person, or someone with an illness may really appreciate a neighbor knocking on the door to say "Hello". Bring over a small box of candy or even just a holiday card-it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. You might make someone's holiday just a little bit brighter!
During the holidays, it's easy to become a Gingerbread Latte swilling over-consumer. More than likely, your family doesn't need expensive gifts; they need time spent together in the spirit of giving. Why not spend some of that time together time making the holidays better for people in need?
How will you incorporate reaching out to your community this holiday season?