Reaching out a helping hand to one less fortunate or going through a rough patch in life is incredibly rewarding. Volunteering changes not only the people on the receiving end, it has a way of changing the hearts of the giver as well.
Giving freely of your time has quite a different impact than simply writing a check or making an online donation to a charity. The firsthand experience of handing someone in need a hot bowl of soup or a blanket, or helping make and serve a family Thanksgiving dinner to replace the scraps they usually find as a soup kitchen volunteer, or handing a homeless child a Christmas gift which they would have never received – well, there are no words to explain the overwhelming joy.
Narcotics Anonymous encourages members to help others struggling with addiction work on their sobriety by volunteering at local meetings. This principle is meant to take the focus off oneself and thereby diminishing self-centeredness.
Exercise Your Altruism
There are many ways in which to help others through nationwide or community charity organizations, or on your own.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen
- Pack up several large zip lock bags with items a homeless person might need [toiletries, bottles of water or juice, gum or mints, fleece scarf, Kleenex, or a small Bible. Include an encouraging personal note]. Keep the bags in your car and hand them to people asking for help standing on the meridian or street corner.
- Help send filled shoe boxes to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child
- There are many ways to help military families to thank them for their service
- Reach out to a family struggling financially this Christmas. Ask each family member to list 10 things they want from Santa (even the adults). Purchase and wrap all 10 or choose a few for each person. Deliver them in person or leave them on the porch late Christmas Eve with Santa footprints (easily made with a can of fake snow and a boot)
- Organize a spread the cheer campaign and make or purchase holiday cards, write a short encouraging note inside and place them on windshields at the grocery store
Be creative. Give of yourself year-round and bask in the warmth of thankfulness.