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, but it also has a way of changing the heart of the giver as well. 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. Also, with the holidays wholly upon us, there is no shortage of ways to give back to your local community.
Benefits of Volunteering in Recovery
Giving freely of your time has quite a different impact than merely writing a check or making an online donation to a charity. Handing someone in need a hot bowl of soup or a blanket. Helping prepare and serve a family Thanksgiving dinner to replace the scraps they usually find as a soup kitchen volunteer. Handing a homeless child a Christmas gift which they would have never received. This firsthand experience – well, there are no words to explain the overwhelming joy.
6 Ways to Give Back for Giving Tuesday and Beyond
There are many ways in which to help others for Giving Tuesday. Here, we’re sharing just six of our favorite ways to give back today and every day.
Volunteer at a Local Soup Kitchen or Food Bank
Many children will go without gifts for the holidays this year, much more go without necessities like food. According to the USDA, there are 3.9 million families that are food insecure. That means that they will have little to no food for weeks at a time. If you’re considering getting involved in your community, volunteering at your local food bank or soup kitchen is a great place to start.
Make Care Packages for the Homeless
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). You can pick up the small travel sized bottles at your local CVS or Target. Make it extra special by including 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.
Give Hope to Those Less Fortunate
Help send gift-filled shoe boxes to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child
Give Thanks to Our Veterans and Their Families
There are many ways to give thanks to the brave men and women who have fought for our country, as well as their families. From something as simple as donating a portion of the things you already buy to veteran-related causes, to sponsoring a companion dog or sending a care package – the list is endless. Also, this list of simple ways to give back to veterans is terrific.
Sponsor a Family in Your Community
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
Get a group of friends together to create or purchase holiday cards. Write a short encouraging note inside and place them in public areas like the subway or on car windshields at the grocery store.
A few more tips for Giving Tuesday: be creative, give of yourself year-round and bask in the warmth of thankfulness. How will you be giving back to others in your recovery?