My first Blogmas post! Now, I know what you re all going to say: “It’s too early for Christmas!” However, I wanted to share this post ahead of time to give more opportunities. The holiday season is a busy and stressful season for all of us, but some are more fortunate than others, and this is a wonderful time of the year to give back. Many people will volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but there are so many more options! There are ways for you to give money, time, and donations, and help any number of people. Below is a list of different ways that you can help out your community and give back for the holiday season!
1. Help out those around you!
Do you know anyone who has young kids and never has a night out? Or maybe someone who is caring for a family member and is getting overloaded? Offer to babysit the kids so that they can get their Christmas shopping done or go to a holiday party. Make some frozen dinners to help out someone who is going from morning to midnight, or some holiday baking! If you know someone doesn’t have a car, offer to drive them around for some errands- we all know how difficult shopping can be with a vehicle, let alone trying to hall all of it on the bus.
2. Answer Letters to Santa
I’m sure that at some point, we have all written a letter to Santa, and waited by the mailbox for a reply. Sure, some parents take the letter and answer themselves, but how exciting is it to get a letter back in the mail?? Make someone’s Christmas and volunteer to answer Santa’s letters! In Canada, Canada Post has a program, but there are similar programs throughout the world. It’s a wonderful use of your time, and you will have a chance to haul out your cursive and calligraphy skills!
Junior Circle will be taking part in the Shoebox Project for the third year in a row this year! It is a program aimed at helping women in shelters- you fill a wrapped shoebox full of $50 worth of goods and treats and the Project will deliver it to a shelter. I love this program because while there are numerous programs for children in need to receive Christmas presents, there is little for their mothers. If these women do have extra money at the holidays, it is often going to their children, leaving nothing for themselves. We fill the boxes with toiletries and make up, socks, mitts, and hats, candies and chocolate, bus tickets, and gift cards! We also write them a holiday card letting them know that there are people thinking of them. The boxes have to be dropped off at a specified location in your city by December 5 at the latest, so start gathering items now!
4. Donate Mittens and Hats!
While this might not be true in the Southern Hemisphere, but in colder climates, mittens and hats and scarves and socks are necessary to safely surviving the winter! However, there are many people that simply cannot afford these items, and risk frostbite and worse. Beginning in November, countless schools, community centres, and churches will set up mitten trees- trees that anyone can hang a donated pair mittens, socks, hat or scarve on that will be given to someone in need! If you are a knitter, this is a wonderful time to whip up a fast scarf or hat to take a break from all of your stressful projects. And if you aren’t blessed with knitting capabilities (à la moi), you can purchase items from Walmart or a dollar store- everything helps! **Canadian PSA: layering those thin finger gloves under regular mittens is a finger saver!**
5. Donate as a Social Group or Office!
Sometimes it is wonderful to come together as a bigger group to make an impact. Sponsor a family for a Christmas hamper- the hamper includes everything for Christmas dinner, as well as other food items and presents for any children in the family! It is expensive to take it on yourself, but as a bigger group is quite feasible. With the Christmas Cheer Board here in Winnipeg, you actually deliver the hamper yourself and see the difference that you make! Or perhaps you would like to fundraise as a group to provide animals and agricultural products to those in need in developing countries! World Vision offers any number of options to meet any donation level- for example, $100 will provide a goat and two chickens to a family. Everyone could pool funds, or you could organise a group fundraising project like a bake sale or craft sale.
How do you give back to your communities for the holiday season? Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? Do you have any holiday traditions to help others?
**I promise that Blogmas posts will not be regularly occurring until after Remembrance Day (November 11), and that the few posts that come before will mostly be DIY posts! I’m going to limit Blogmas posts prior to November 11 to those things that need extra time, ie. things that need to be done beforehand like collecting donations and making presents. All Blogmas posts will be clearly labelled if you would like to wait until later to read all of them!**