It’s very easy to get jaded during the holidays with the commercialism, pressure to buy the perfect gifts, constant (and few) Christmas songs, crowds, shorter days, rain and the cold. I became liberated when the need for buying a lot of presents and making sure that they were equal in someway was no longer important. I began to pick up random things throughout the year for people when I would see something interesting-it may not cost much, but it is personal. Isn’t that really what giving is about anyway? Giving of yourself and your time is the best gift of all.
There are many people out there who could use a helping hand; particularly at the holidays. Non-profits are in extreme need right now; donations are down and the need for services has exploded. Here are a few ideas-pick your passion no matter how small or large. These ideas will cost you nothing but your time. It could be a good way for a family to do something together and a great way to teach kids to give back to their communities.
Practice the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. We should all do this everyday; let’s use this month to get in the habit. Let someone with fewer items than you at the grocery store cut in front of you. Pick up trash whenever you see it. Let someone merge into traffic.
Make a donation of unneeded items. Clean out your closets and let someone else get use out of your unneeded clutter. Community Thrift has a long list of benefiting agencies that you can specify for your donation. 625 Valencia www.CommunityThriftSF.com or call(415)861-4910.
Volunteer for an organization / share a skill. This could be as easy as stuffing donation envelopes, or as challenging as answering questions on the San Francisco AIDS Hotline www.sfaf.org For other ideas, there is a terrific online volunteer organization where you can search based on your location and what you are interested in doing www.VolunteerMatch.org
Serve meals or pack and hand out bags of groceries Glide Memorial Church has a list of events, so if you are busy on Christmas day, there are plenty of other opportunities. www.glide.org/page.aspx?pid=463 or call (415)674-6000
Deliver meals for Project Openhand; they have meal delivery everyday to homebound critically ill people, www.OpenHand.org or call (415)447-2300 FYI in 2009, 3300 critically ill people received daily meals, 4,100 seniors received lunches and 70,000 bags of groceries were given out.
Sort food for packaging and delivery San Francisco Food Bank www.SFFoodBank.org (415)282-1900 FYI, they serve on average 147,000 people a year. Volunteering here is really easy; no training necessary and available pretty much every day in blocks of time.
If you’d like to stay a little closer to home, St. Cecilia’s Church has plenty of activities to get involved with. www.stcecilia.com/community/index.php or call (415)664-8481
Of course, these organizations will accept donations too, if time is short. Please enjoy a happy and safe holiday season!