4 Ways to Give Back to your Community this Christmas
Guest Post by Dan Kihato
Christmas time is giving time. It’s the time of the year when we show how much we appreciate the ones closest to us. However, the commercialized version of Christmas we celebrate today defines appreciation of your loved ones as showering them with gifts, while acts of kindness and sacrifice (the essence of Christmas) fall into the background.
Why would you want to do something good for the community? It’s not just for karma points. As was very neatly illustrated in the book “Outliers: The Story Of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell, even the most successful people owe a lot of their fortune to others. Bill Gates, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, for example, was extremely fortunate to get early access to computers: the Mothers Club at the Lakeside School decided to buy a computer terminal at a time when computers were far from being mainstream.
Despite that, it’s never too late to start being a proactive member of your community by giving back. It’s really hard to go wrong with charitable initiatives: if you’re doing something that helps others, you’re on the right path. In case you’re out of ideas, here are a few suggestions:
1. Start With Your Family
Once we decide that we do indeed want to put in time and effort to improve the lives of those around us, we often start contemplating big feats that would “truly” make an impact on the community. However, a much closer to you circle – your family – might be in need for your help and your help only.
Always begin your charitable deeds with a conversation with each of your family members – even an honest, patient conversation is more than most of us give to our loved ones these days. Find the time to create an atmosphere where your darlings are comfortable opening up to you. Then, listen to their problems and see if you can be of any use. That’s how the true Christmas spirit is created – not by deal hunting for that new handbag at Macy’s.
2. Create a Performance For The Community
Remember all the times at school when you were preparing for the Christmas play for months? Well, why not do it once again, community-wide?
Holidays are the time when people have a little more time than usual, thus it’s the best time of the year to gather all of the enthusiastic members of your community and make something beautiful together. It will be a bonding experience for both people involved in the making and the rest of the community once they get to see the play.
If you’re a little unsure in your leadership skills, you could try and find people who could manage the whole process. And you shouldn’t worry too much about spending lots of money on decorations and such – nowadays, you can buy things for pennies with huge holiday discounts going on at major retailers like Sears.
3.Visit the Elderly
Do you live near a retirement home? Too many of the seniors living in those places are either forgotten by the rest of their family, or don’t have anyone close at all. Not having anyone to talk to can become really lonely.
Fortunately, their mood can be easily swung with as much as an hour of quality conversation. Does it seem a little awkward to you to simply walk into a senior house and look for people to talk to? Coordinate your visit with the house’s staff first and let them set up the meet. If there will be seniors looking to converse with someone, the staff will gladly help – they know that a couple of hours of your time can make their guests happy for weeks.
And don’t worry about not having anything interesting to say or not having a scheduled agenda of conversation topics: you’re not expected to be the one leading the conversation; just listen and ask. Talking to older people is extremely eye-opening in so many ways that it’s under question who’ll be doing who a favor.
Another thing you could do is to try and improve the living environment for the seniors. Whether you’re going to be shoveling snow in their backyard or bringing them a brand new TV or the perfect Christmas gift, warm blankets! It’s your work and spared attention that will matter at the end to them.
Sharing your expertise in any relevant field for free is one of the best ways you could benefit your community. Why?
Firstly, because it’s an investment. Recall the saying “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime.” Some people in your community might be looking for exactly the skills that you have, but for some reason they can’t access them. You could be the key that unlocks their door to learning that skill.
Secondly, teaching is really fun and it will help you become even better at what you do. While teaching, you’re forced to view the subject from a different perspective and to re-think essential questions, ones that you’ve probably taken for granted for a long time.
Lastly, teaching helps you grow as a person. Seeing someone fail repeatedly to understand concepts that feel almost innate to you requires a lot of patience, and continuing to respect and believe in that person requires tolerance, understanding and self-awareness, qualities that describe you as a human being.
About the Author
Dan is a freelance content marketing expert who is passionate about helping small businesses achieve great results through blogging, copywriting, content marketing, link building, digital pr, video content, and SEO. Dan is currently writing his book on SEO, and blogging best practices for online businesses. You can follow him on twitter @dankihato16