As we are wrapping up the holiday season this year, signs of the spirit of giving are all around. Charities are often overwhelmed by volunteers during the holidays, sometimes to the point where offers to help are turned down. Yet many of these same organizations are seriously struggling to meet their needs during the rest of the year. What is it about the holiday season that makes us want to give to others so much, and what can we do to preserve that spirit of giving during the rest of the year, when charitable organizations need it the most?
Many people are already aware of the benefits of volunteering. Helping others improves your mindset, helps you to build a sense of community where you live, and some studies have even shown evidence that people who volunteer are physically healthier than those who do not. As we are working towards living a more positive and fulfilling life, and striving towards a positive mindset, the ability of volunteering to help us achieve these goals should not be overlooked.
Thus, it is important to make sure we are taking advantage of opportunities to give back year-round. Offering as little as a few hours of your time each month to a local organization supporting a cause that you are passionate about will help these organizations complete the missions they have dedicated themselves to, and it will help you achieve the mental and spiritual goals you have set for yourself.
It can be difficult to find the time and energy to give to others sometimes with the hectic lifestyles that many of us live in today’s world. If you simply cannot find the time in your schedule to volunteer at a local organization, there are other ways you can contribute to making the world a better place. Here is a list of simple things you can do to keep up the spirit of volunteerism year-round.
1) Put together bags of vital items for the homeless. Clean and dry socks, some non-perishable snacks, hand warming packs, a few individually wrapped sanitary wipes, and a gift card for a hot cup of coffee are just a few of the things you can include in these bags. Keep them in your car to give to homeless people instead of spare change.
2) Pay for a stranger’s coffee or food. You can do this in a drive-thru by offering to pay for the order of the person behind you, or you can preemptively pay for a drink or a cup of coffee at a local bar or coffee shop and ask them to put it towards the tab of the next person who orders that item.
3) Carry a few plastic grocery bags with you and use them to pick up garbage you find on the street.
4) Call up a local school and offer to pay off some student lunch debts. A lot of the children who accumulate these debts are embarrassed and singled out at school for something that is not their fault, and this is a great and easy way to be of service.
5) Call up a local homeless shelter and see what they need the most. Sometimes it can be really simple things that you can find on sale (or pick up at the dollar store) like cleaning supplies. A few dollars and a quick shopping trip is all you need to help make someone’s life better.
6) Write a nice letter or a genuine compliment on a card that you leave on a coworker’s desk or neighbors doorstep. You can sign it or do it anonymously, the point is to let them know someone cares.
These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. Volunteering and helping others doesn’t always have to be a big commitment. If everyone did one little thing to help another person each day, imagine how much happier we would all be. If you have any other ideas for small and easy ways you can help others, leave them in the comments for all of us to share!