Traditionally, the end-of-the-year holidays serve as a time of giving thanks, gathering with friends and family, and exchanging gifts and well wishes. It can also be a time of great stress, frustration, and irritation.
In pre-pandemic times, the season of giving usually meant a month-long stretch of time dominated by aggressive advertisements, volunteers at soup kitchens, and the stressful quest of finding the right gift for the right person at the right price.
While 2020 has presented so many challenges to the usual activities that have marked the changing seasons, the new reality also presents an opportunity to rethink the ways of giving during the holiday season. And a good place to start this rethink would be to consider that people need help throughout the year.
- Start Next Door
The classic images of people volunteering during the holidays can suggest that charity should be limited only to the holiday months. But while December has the reputation of being the season of giving, the attention given to those in need can be of even greater use throughout the year.
To expand on the season of giving, you can start by checking in with the person next door. This doesn’t have to mean dropping off gift baskets or holiday cards in their mail. If you see them, say hello and ask how they’re doing. Even if you’ve never spoken to them before.
In fact, check to see if any volunteer organizations need phone bank operators to call people and see how they’re doing. Charity work does not necessarily mean lifting heavy objects or serving food; sometimes it just means making a social phone call.
- Think Bigger
People need help all the time, and they need it in places that don’t seem obvious.
For example, while public schools generally tend to be very accepting of parent volunteers, local nonprofit organizations can also use some time and attention from the community, too. Check to see if the community has a food pantry, clothing collection spot, or other charity in need of some help.
Once you find one, find out if they belong to any charity organizational networks. For example, does the food pantry have any connections to UNICEF or Feed America? And if so, do those organizations need help outside of your neighborhood.
- Think Creatively
The pandemic has altered the way we physically interact with one another, which in turn has led to reconsiderations as to how serve others. Traditional ideas like delivering food or gathering together have become riskier, which means participating in the season of giving requires a bit more creativity.
Keeping that in mind, clean donated items and seal them in plastic bags before delivering them to the needy. Leave a note indicating the items have been safely prepared, and urge the recipient to continue observing safe practices.
Also, if possible, include a case of new disinfectant wipes in the package. Those are hard to come by for anyone these days, and will most likely be appreciated by the recipient.