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How Can You Give Back This Season?
Giving can be therapeutic. It makes us feel good about ourselves, it energizes us to know we are helping others, and it motivates us to do more good. Giving is a great way to help in one’s recovery from drug or alcohol addiction because it helps take the focus off of ourselves and our own struggles and it improves our mood and our ability to meet recovery goals.
Christmas is a good time to give back to others. There is such a great need at Christmastime, but there are often more opportunities now than during the rest of the year because so many people want to do good during the holidays. Even with the wide variety of worthy organizations to support, it can be difficult to find just the right way to give back. If you are looking for ways to give to others this year, below are some simple ideas you can put into practice, even with the quickly approaching holiday.
Tried and True Ways to Give Back
The Gift of Money
When we think of ways to give back to others, most people think of traditional ways of giving. Money is easy to give online or in person and can be given to a variety of organizations. Money is always appreciated by these groups, as organizations whose mission is to help others often struggle to meet their budgets. Your cash donation will be used for programming, to purchase supplies, for operating funds, and for special projects:
- You can donate money to your church to help operate programs for the needy in the community.
- You can give money to aid organizations to support mission work or relief work for the disadvantaged or victims of natural disaster.
- You can give a generous tip to a waiter or waitress.
The Gift of Goods
You can also donate goods or items needed for programs. These donations help organizations because they don’t have to go out and purchase the items themselves, and the donations are a bit more personal than simply giving money.
- You can donate toys for disadvantaged kids.
- You can donate new or gently used clothing and household items to a resale shop.
- You can donate your old vehicle to a charity that accepts them.
- You can donate blood for those struggling with medical issues.
The Gift of Time
Then there is the option to give your time to worthy causes. These organizations often have many volunteers at this time of year, and some are very organized when it comes to services volunteers can help with.
- You can help serve food at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
- You can spend time working with at-risk kids in the community at a local youth center or after-school group.
- You can read to grade school students at a local library reading hour.
- You can visit with the elderly at a local nursing home who don’t have family nearby.
- You can walk dogs at the local humane society.
Creative Ideas for Giving
If these options seem a bit too traditional for you, or if you don’t have money or goods to give right now, there are still ways you can give back this holiday season. It just takes some time and creativity, and below are some additional ideas of how you can give to others this Christmas.
Look at the people in your own life and try to identify a need you can assist with. Do you have a family member who could use some extra help getting out and doing their Christmas shopping? Offer to go with them or help them wrap the presents they’ve already purchased. Do you have a friend with young children who is just wishing for a night out without the kids? Offer to babysit for them. Consider helping a loved one with chores around the house, or running errands for them. If you have time to give, there are plenty of people close to you who would use some extra help right now.
There are also those around you who are struggling at this time of year with depression or loneliness. Draw on your own challenges and experiences to help these people. Sometimes all it takes is a simple phone call or sitting down with someone in person to just listen to what they are going through. Then maybe you can also provide encouragement through what you’ve learned in rehab or working with a therapist.
Other ideas don’t take a lot of planning, but can really brighten up someone’s day:
- Leave a kind note on someone’s windshield.
- Bake cookies for local police officers or firefighters.
- Shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk after the next snowfall.
- Send holiday cards to soldiers.
- Help an elderly neighbor shop for groceries.
- Leave a Christmas card for your mail carrier or garbage collector.
- Smile at others.
- Hold a door for a stranger.
- Give someone your place in a checkout line.
Look around at those you see every day, and you will see a need you can help with. Make a commitment this Christmas season to show love to others, and you will see benefits in your own recovery as well.