17 Ways to Serve Others
Tis the season to serve and give. When there is so much need around you it is hard to know where to start, or even how. And then how do you incorporate your kids into serving in the community? This year we discussed with our kids ways we can serve others. How we can use our blessings and pass them on to others.
I hope that my kids learn and remember the season and the feeling they get when they anonymously help another. True service comes without recognition or expectation. As we started to brainstorm ways we can serve others, we quickly realized we could come up with a very long list. So here are some of our brainstorming notes…
Ways to Serve
There is always a need for blood to be donated to blood drives. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to donate blood, so it’s always appreciated when those who can, take the time to donate what and when they can.
Toys For Tots
When Christmas comes to town opportunities to purchase toys pop up everywhere. Some stores offer to do it as you are checking out, others have drop locations for Toys For Tots. You can learn more about how the program works here. I think it’s important for kiddos and families to consider ways they can help and understand the programs.
Non-Profit & Other Organizations
There are hundreds of organizations established that focus on serving and filling a need. Some of the more popular groups are Toys For Tots, United Way, The Salvation Army, Wounded Warriors and Habitat for Humanity. If you are looking for something specific, doing a little research will most likely result in dozens of options both on a local and national level for donating to a cause.
Though I mentioned a few organizations already, I feel the need to give a shout out to Help International. My daughter’s dance coach just completed a humanitarian mission abroad and as she shared her experiences via social media and a blog, the stories I heard her pass on truly touched and bothered my heart. There is so much evil in the world, but by small acts of kindness and selflessness we can brighten the life of another, specifically young women who have experienced extreme trials. Please research and consider the good you can do with organizations like Help International and Operation Underground Railroad.
12 Days of Christmas
I love the 12 Days of Christmas service. I’ve heard of various ways to do it, but the same theme remains that every night leading up to Christmas you “doorbell ditch” gifts at a family’s home. Some of a series of gifts, others have been pieces of a nativity ending with receiving the Christ piece on Christmas Eve. Regardless of the design of the anonymous gifts, the 12 days of Christmas service project is such a wonderful way to touch many people throughout the holiday season.
Similar to the 12 Days of Christmas, the Secret Santa is more like a one-time drop off of a box of goodies for Christmas. Sometimes it is anonymous, other times people who are unknown to the recipient are asked to drop the box of goodies and necessities off. I think things like this are a wonderful tradition.
I remember preparing and mailing care packages for troops when I was in high school. But care packages are not just for those on active duty, you can also prepare them for local veterans, those living in nursing homes, or even care packages for hospitals and children’s hospital wings. When people know you took the time to think about them, I promise it means more than whatever you put in the care package.
Adopt a Student
I remember in high school, some long-time family friends of mine decided to adopt some students from their school. They forfeited their gifts and in turn purchased things like a Letterman’s jacket for a student athlete who couldn’t afford it. I’m not entirely sure how or what they did other than that, but that act of kindness has stayed in my memory. I’ve also heard of families donating money for student’s college application grants started by high schools, and event helped to pay for tests needed for college application. I have heard of some high schools even creating programs for student athletes who can’t afford the fees associated with sports. There are many ways to donate and help those around us, just look.
Soup Kitchen’s get a lot of help around the holidays, and that is good, but there is opportunity to serve in these locations year-round. This can be a great way to spread cheer and help by giving of your time.
Share & Deliver
I have to give a shout out to my husband’s uncle. He is apart of a group in the Berkeley area who organizes service events. One of the activities they do is prepare sack lunches and deliver to the homeless around their area. They also hand out simple necessities like socks and gloves. The best part – they do it in costume. 🙂 Check these guys out and all the amazing things their crew does. Cobra 1st Legion
Unfortunately not everyone is physically capable of the manual labor that life sometimes requires. This may be anything from yard work/snow removal, moving items around in a home, or just simple getting things out or in storage. These acts are sometimes harder to find because unless you ask, you may not be aware of the need.
Monetary donations is often the foundation of most service projects to help others. And that is okay. If you have cash to spare, spend it on others in the best way you can. Organizations are always accepting donations and they can put it to good use if you aren’t sure how to move forward.
A couple years ago I was working with a group of young girls and they decided that they wanted to share their talents with others that Christmas season. They were all musically talented, playing instruments, singing, or both. The each selected a Christmas song to perform and we visiting nursing and retirement homes. We received more than one compliment and expression of gratitude as they shared their talents and brightened other’s day. No matter your talent, you can help others in one way or another.
For my kids, as we discussed these topics, they shared things they are really good at and how they can use them to help others. Sometimes it can be as simple as just being a friend to someone who may not have as many at school. Or for my five-year-old, sharing toys he loves the most can be an act of love.
If you are interested in helping out in your school or school district. I suggest starting by contacting the principal and identifying needs. They will help you be able to help someone or find a family or student in need.
My daughter has mentioned a couple of times of kids in her school who don’t have gloves, hats or scarves. How inexpensive and wonderful for her to be able to do a secret Santa for a friend on their desk. My kids can see opportunities I might not see at all, and it is the perfect way for them to serve others this year.
Fire Station & Police Departments
Our safety volunteers usually have programs established where they organized it or they have teamed up with another organization. Contact your local fire station or police department office and they can give you information about services they are providing during the year or holiday season.
Give For Free
Courtesy of Facebook groups and Craigslist, buying & selling used items is easier than ever. I always love and appreciate the posts when I see people posting things for free. They were able to get some use out of it, and without expecting anything in return, they are willing to sacrifice any small gain they may have received for just helping another. When this comes to necessities for babies and children, I am especially motivated to do something similar. You never know what prayer you may be answering by doing so.
Give Your Time
Other than monetary donations, service comes down to giving of yourself and your time. Sometimes it is doing manual labor, other times it can be just a listening ear or being a friend. Those who need help may be slow to ask for it. But consider what you can do or you are capable of and set a goal to do a little more.
There is always room for kindness and service. I hope everyone has a wonderful and love-filled Christmas season.