Monday, December 13, 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Giving Back Edition

'Tis the season.  We all hear that phrase a lot this time of year, but what does it really mean?  To me, it means it is the season to give back.  It's the season that depression hits folks full force.  It's the season that those without family suffer in silence as the rest of us gather and sometimes gloat about our family traditions.  It's the season where random acts of kindness seem to mean more.

So how do we spread Christmas cheer and help others this holiday season?  There are plenty of ways to do it.  Here are a few of my favorite.

Make Winter Gear.  Many homeless shelters and schools provide scarves, hats and gloves for those using their facilities.  Stock up on some fleece and make scarves to donate.  One scarf can go a long way.  This year my church partnered with Scarf It Up, a local organization that provides scarves, hats and gloves to shelters, school and the homeless in our area.  Tammy, our contact, told us two stories that touched my heart and I wanted to share them with you.  She said that the homeless really appreciate knitted scarves, because they can wrap their bodies in the scarves and use them as a layer of warmth under their coats.  I couldn't believe this and I immediately felt guilty for taking my down-alternative coat for granted.  The second story brought tears to my eyes.  One of the school's in our Covington area receives donations each year.  A teacher noticed that the day after the scarves, hats and gloves were given out, one of her students showed up to school wearing only the donations as his winter gear.  He walks to school each day with his brothers and when his teacher asked about his coat, the little boy replied that it wasn't his turn to wear the jacket.  He and his three brothers share one coat, and take turns wearing it.  Sometimes the only winter gear these kids get are the scarves, hats and gloves that Scarf It Up donates.  So, take some time today and make a few scarves.  You never know how far it will go.

Write Christmas Greetings.  Get in touch with someone at a local recruiting office or military base.  Ask for the names and addresses of some troops overseas who may not have a lot of family.  Send them a care package or Christmas card.  They are fighting for our freedom, and the least we could do is thank them and show them someone cares.

Carol.  While it may seem a bit old-fashioned, many senior living facilities welcome carolers into their buildings this time of year.  Gather some friends together (and bring someone who can play the piano) and gather around the piano for some old-fashioned holiday cheer.

Those are just some of my ideas on how to give back this year.  What are yours?

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