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The Giving Season

posted by Jenny Hong

I, for one, love the holidays and everything that comes with it, including the crazy malls with twinkle lights and Christmas carols blaring everywhere. But as holiday shopping season goes into full gear and we are spending our life’s savings on the perfect presents, decorations and holiday entertaining, Giving Tuesday is a nice reminder that in the midst of all this cheerful madness, we can filter in some real holiday spirit with a little (or a lot) of giving.

It’s also a nice reminder that giving doesn’t have to be just material things. There are so many other ways to give that create more impact on the recipient and here are some of our favorites!

Give Time

For most of us, time always seems to be in shortage - from our busy schedules to managing our overall lives. This includes but is most definitely not limited to: Picking up/dropping off the kids in a forever endless slew of activities, working out, buying groceries, making dinner, buying presents, finding “me” time, hanging out with friends, etc., time seems to be the one thing that we just never have enough of!

Trust us, I TOTALLY understand. But what I’m suggesting is that giving time doesn’t have to equal big chunks of your day. Consider making an extra dinner for a friend to lighten their load, or even better, have an impromptu dinner date to catch up!

Another easy option is to offer to pet sit or babysit for someone you know who would love the unexpected free time. There are also many local agencies that are always in need of volunteers, such as your local soup kitchen, a toy drive or a canned food drive, the pet shelter. In certain cities, you can even be a temporary pet foster! There are so many different ways that just a little bit of your time can make a significant impact to those around you.

Give Kindness

Kindness is the easiest way to give and is sure to bring some holiday cheer to everyone involved. It doesn’t need to cost anything, and sometimes can be a simple act of holding the door for someone or helping to pick up a dropped item. The possibilities for small acts of kindness are truly endless and often result in a pay-it-forward reaction.

One great way to start is to sit down and create a list of small things you can accomplish. It doesn’t all have to be done in one day, but it can be a running list that grows as you witness the power of such acts.

Some ideas are to buy a cup coffee for a stranger, smile and say “good morning” to the security guard at your office, pick up an extra sandwich for someone needy, or let someone who is a regular part of your day know you appreciate them.

The simple act of paying someone a compliment or appreciating someone’s work really doesn’t require much effort or time, but the magic of everything is how amazing and special you’ve made a person feel with just a simple act of kindness.

Give Blood

Yes, many people are afraid of the needle or of seeing their own blood (and by the way, nurses tell me it’s mostly men who faint) so this could be hard for some. But for those who can stomach it, donating blood is an easy way to give back this holiday season.

Every donation can save up to three lives and the plasma you gave only takes 24 hours to be replaced. This year, the American Red Cross has stated that it is in severe shortage of blood, with many hospitals having only 36,000 out of the daily 80,000 bags needed. The result is that hospitals may not have enough blood for major emergencies and patients may be forced to to cancel elective surgeries.

Now is as good of a time as ever to donate blood to your local blood bank. Even better, it only takes about twenty minutes of your time, and those twenty minutes are perfect for “me” time to just relax and forget about your day. The best part is that after it’s done, you get some delicious goodies and feel good about eating them too!

Give Hair

Have you been thinking about trying that bob for a while? I say, go for it! If you have at least eight inches of undyed, unbleached hair with minimal graying, you are a prime candidate to donate your hair.

Donated hair goes to make free real-hair wigs for those in need due to medical issues, such as chemo, radiation, burns, and other medical concerns. Donating your hair could give back self-confidence to those in need, and may result in the perfect new hairstyle for you too! There is no age limit on who can donate, so bring your best friend or your daughter to start a trendy new haircut!

Give Surprises

This one takes a little more effort, but the rewards are usually more heartfelt. One prime example is to send your mother flowers and tell her how much you love and appreciate her. As a daughter and a mom, I know how easy it is to take moms for granted! In fact, you should buy a different product subscription for your parents every year and set it on your alarm - it will be worth it.

Other surprises could be to secretly pay for your friend’s dinner, or stealthily drop something you know they want into their bag. You may or may not get the credit for this, but the joy in your loved one’s voice when they tell you what happened will be a satisfying enough recognition.

I know the old adage is that “‘tis better to give than to receive”, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…the personal satisfaction of making someone happy is pretty awesome as well!

So no matter what you choose to do today in the name of giving, it’s a wonderful way to spend a day and remember that gratitude is the source of happiness and in giving some of you, you open yourself up to receive a world of joy.

Best ways to give back this Giving Tuesday.
Best ways to give back this Giving Tuesday.