How to Help Others During the Winter Holidays

The Winter holidays can be a time of great difficulty for some, whether it’s because of the loss of a loved one or just one terrible holiday experience from the past. It is important to recognize that not only do some not celebrate certain holidays, but for others it creates anxiety, extreme sensitivity, depression, loneliness, isolation, etc. We must empathize with others and make them feel welcome in their time of distress. For those who have difficulty getting through the holidays, I suggest staying occupied and surrounding yourself with others.

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Bake for emergency personnel
Look up your local police station, fire station, or hospital. Take some time to bake some cookies, sweets, or pastries and personally deliver them to the station(s). Emergencies don’t take holidays or days off. Our emergency personnel are essential to the communities and should be able to feel the holiday spirit as they work, when most people are home with families.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank
It is important to not be insensitive to others and judge them by their circumstances or struggles. Everyone deserves to come together and enjoy a good meal.
You can use the following website to search for local volunteer opportunities:
https://nationalhomeless.org/taking-action/volunteer/

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Donations
How long has it been since you’ve gone through some old boxes in your garage or purged through your closet? It’s a good way to stay busy. Turn some music on, gather unwanted items (clothes, shoes, books, toys, canned food, etc.) and donate them to those who are in need. Many people, churches, and companies gather donations during this time of year, so you’re bound to find a place close by to donate to.
You can use the following websites to guide you:
https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/best-charities
http://donationtown.org/
http://www.goodwill.org/
https://www.salvationarmy.org/
https://www.booksforafrica.org/
and MANY others!

Volunteer at/Donate to a children’s hospital
Many children’s hospitals (or hospitals in general) take donations to help families in need who are struggling due to enormous medical bills. These donations include grocery gift cards, personal hygiene items, diapers, clothing, educational items, etc. Volunteering at a children’s hospital is something that needs to be thought about ahead of the holidays. Most hospital volunteers go through an application process, as we must not overlook the safety and privacy of the hospital and families. Search online for local children’s hospitals for more specific information.

Make greeting cards
This can be done for military personnel overseas, hospital patients, nursing homes, etc. This is a fantastic option if you have a child to look after during the holidays as they usually enjoy making cards and drawing pictures. Although it does not include anything of monetary value, it is great to show your appreciation to those who are serving for our country as well as helping others understand that strangers are thinking about them and wishing them happy holidays.

Prepare some baked goods or a nice meal for your neighbor or friend
This is usually for one specific person or family who either may be going through a difficult time, or have had a recent life event (birth, death, hospitalization, etc.). Sometimes just alleviating the responsibility of cooking is a great weight lifted off of someones shoulders. For example, a friend or neighbor recently had a baby and is in the middle of adjusting to having a newborn, especially if it is their first child. Delivering a good, hearty meal to them can reduce their stress and anxiety.

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Babysit
Maybe you know of an acquaintance, friend, or family member who is unable to attend something due to this thing not being appropriate for children. Offer to babysit, even if it’s for free.

Help needy animals
If you’re an animal person, this may be an enjoyable experience. You can volunteer at shelters or donate animal necessities such as food, bedding, toys, litter, leashes, etc. The shelters may not be open to the public on Christmas or any other holidays, but you should ask if they need assistance during those days anyway. After all, the animals need to be fed and cared for throughout the day.

Operation Christmas Child
For Operation Christmas Child, you fill a shoe box with things for children in need around the world. You can pack one yourself and drop it off at a location, often a church, or you can build a shoe box online and it will be packed for you.

I hope this has given you some ideas for ways that you can avoid having a lonely holiday season and give back to those who may be in difficult circumstances. We must feel grateful for all that we have been given. As difficult as it may be sometimes, feeling grateful for the things you have can bring more positivity into your mind.

I wish you nothing but happiness during this holiday season!

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