The Holidays: Time to Start Giving Back…. Or, is it?
By Joani Taylor
Pay it Forward, Serve, Give Back, Random Act of Kindness, no matter how you spell it, it’s that time of year where we are all thinking about giving. What a relief! After the troubled times of November, I for one am looking forward to the positivity the holidays bring. But, this leaves me pondering, what is all the excitement about. After all, December is just one month out of an entire calendar year.
Studies show that people that help our fellow man are more successful in life, have improved health and happiness. Plus, children who volunteer are more likely to grow up to volunteer and serve as adults. Communities with more volunteers are typically more stable and better places to live (USA Today). So why are we saving all those positive benefits for only 1/12 of an entire year? Lets face it, in today’s world we need to make the effort to put a smile on the faces around us everyday.
So, I’m proposing, in addition to the plans you already have to serve this holiday, you add just one more thing, a big cardboard box. For years I’ve had a box that’s plunked right next to my front door. It’s become a bit of joke for friends, as every time they stop by, I make some excuse for the tripping hazard. To the untrained it could look like a pile of unorganized junk waiting to be hauled out to the trash, but my charity box is actually a dropping ground for denotable food and clothing, household items or children’s niceties. I’ve found that having the box right where I enter and leave encourages me to add to it and reminds me to drop it of. To get you started here are a few things that have landed in this years box.
January: Hot Cocoa Mix
A little treat to enjoy with a neighbor after shoveling their sidewalk
Did you know February is National Hot Breakfast Month? What a great time to do a neighborhood Oatmeal Drive for the Food Bank.
March: Books, Puzzles and Board Games
It’s national reading month, so how bout encouraging a little reading? Volunteer at the Library; donate books to children in need. Senior homes also enjoy donations of books, puzzles and games.
April: Pet Food
Pet rescues, such as the Humane Society, Best Friends Animal Society and Rescue Rovers not only need pet food, they also need for paper towels, garbage bags, and old blankets.
May: Pantry Staples
Because of Memorial Day sales not only is May a great month to break out the coupons for grocery shopping. It’s also the month we see both the Boy Scouts Scouting for Food and the Letter Carriers Stamping out Hunger. I like to buy extra so I’m ready for them.
June: Tomato Plants and Pots
Plant patio tomatoes in flowerpots and deliver them to an elderly neighbor or retirement home.
July: School Supplies
Kids all over Utah need school supplies and teachers love getting them too. Donate to your local school or participate in Stuff the Bus and help fill backpacks for kids. (stuffthebus.uw.org)
August: Personal Care Items
Even the casual coupon user knows that personal care items like toothpaste; soap and hygiene products are easy pickings. Instead of piling these products on shelves in the basement, I pile any extras in the box and drop them off at the Road Home or a Women’s Shelter. For more about how to get these items with just a little effort and out of pocket expense, make sure you are following the Grocery section of Coupons4Utah.com.
September: Craft Supplies
Sharing Place is a place where children that have lost a parent can go to learn coping skills, share stories and learn to deal with grief. They are in constant need of arts and craft supplies. (thesharingplace.org)
Families all across Utah are need of diapers, diapers and more diapers. Visit utahdiaperbank.org to find a list of drop of locations.
November: Holiday Wrapping Paper, Tape and Gift Cards
Remember all of those donated gifts need to get wrapped. Most charities collecting gifts also have a need for wrapping supplies. One idea would be the Holiday Gift Box. They provide individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families who are in need gifts for Christmas. More info at uaidutah.org/holiday-giftbox
While I may trip over my charity box every now and again, it helps me remember to make those important little donations the entire year. And as for my friends that stop by, well… I’ll just let them continue to think I’m a little unorganized.
Wishing you the happiest of holidays, all year long.