The holidays are a wonderful time of love, sharing and family. It is also the perfect time for reflection and gratitude. As we prepare for the holiday season it is so important to reflect on how blessed we all are. We have a roof over our head, food in our fridge and while the bank statements may not always remain in the black (there never seems to be enough money!) we are happy.
For many in our community the holidays can be a hard time due to finances and mental health issues. For many of us it becomes hard to not only put the regular food items needed on the table but the burden to purchase gifts for their children in order to keep the spirit of Christmas alive can push budgets over the edge. CTV has reported that first time food bank users has increased by 20% this year alone. University students and seniors are among the fastest growing group of users while children make up 35% of the users. For others it is the hardship of loss, depression and anxiety that can make this season long and stressful. For my own family this will be our first Christmas without my Grandfather and I am already feeling this loss greatly.
It is important to give back to your community during the holiday season. There are so many ways you can give back and help others out.
Here is a list of my favourite ways to give back to others:
- Organize a food drive at work. I just donated a trunk full of goodies to our local Neighbour2Neighbour facility that we raised month long at work. Not only does it bring your work community together but you are doing it for a good cause.
- Have your children organize their own food drive at home. They can canvas close friends, family and neighbours (that they know) for non perishable items. Take your children with you to drop these items off at your local food bank. This is such an amazing experience for your children and also helps them to appreciate all that they have been given.
- Participate in a toy drive. Many food banks, Neighbour2Neighbour Centres, local shops and newstations run toy drives through the month of December. Our Parish also participates and we are able to choose a name off our Parish Christmas tree with the child’s wishlist. Our boys are then able to shop for this special child and bring the gift back to our Church for Santa to deliver.
- Volunteer your time at your local hospital, Church or school. If you have special skills offer those up or even volunteer your time to talk with someone who is lonely during the holiday season.
- Volunteer your time at a local retirement home as not everyone will be surrounded by family this time of year and it is important for everyone to feel loved and cared for.
- Take the time out during the holidays to call and maybe even visit a family member or friend that is having a difficult time. Maybe they have lost someone and just need a shoulder to cry on.
To our family making sure we slow down during the holiday season in order to give back to others in our community is just as high on our must do list as all of our other family activities. How do you make sure you keep others in your heart and give back to your community during the holiday season?