While it seems less noticable in the summer, the winter time proves just how fortune and sadly, how unfortunate many people are. Almost everywhere you go you can see people out jingling bells, hoping to get a few donations for various organizations which vary depending on location. Based on past experience, I’ve written a list of a few ideas to help those in your area who are not as fortunate as you are.
Donating time at a soup kitchen or warming house is not as horrible as you think. You’d be surprised at how merry the workers are, as well as how happy and friendly most of the patrons can be, even considering their bit of bad luck they’re in which forces them to eat at charity houses. Many people think this is just a dress drab, go in, feed a bunch of dirty people and clean up after them. There are more ways to help a soup kitchen than by merely serving food. Bring decorations! Hit a store and buy boxes of candy canes to pass out to the children – set up a christmas tree and during the dinner coax the other workers to start singing christmas carols. Do whatever you can to make the people forget their situations – even if only temporary. Show them that there is hope, love and friendship.
Donate Winter clothing
Especially in my area, winters can be pretty brutal. Even as I write this it’s 22 degrees outside, snowy and the windchill is somewhere around 16 degrees. However, many people just can not afford things like winter coats, scarves or mittens. I know this because every year a local organization asks for these donations. So say you don’t have the funding to buy a whole winter outfit for someone, that’s all right. Even if you just go to a dollar store, buy a pair of 2 dollar ‘magic’ gloves (for those unfamiliar those are one size fits all gloves that ‘magically’ fit) and donate them, it’s better than nothing. Can you knit or sew? Go buy a few balls of yarn and crochet scarves. This gives you an activity and not only shows others you care, but gives you a big sense of pride when maybe someday you’ll get to see someone less fortunate wearing one of your creations. Nothing instills more pride than seeing your hard work being put to good use. Do you have more than one heavy coat? Why not donate one of them? Sure you may need a different color coat for every wardrobe option, but, consider the fact that while you can spend money on coats, some can’t even put on a coat to stay warm. This means they go out, get sick and feel even worse. You may feel miserable donating something you adore, however, the person who gets it will feel one hundred percent better once they have something warm to put on. This also applies to sweaters, heavy socks and anything else you can think of to be useful in the winter. If you have more than one – donate it. I mean, you can always go out and buy another sometime.
Help Pay a Gas Bill
I specify gas bill because gas prices, as everyone knows, are pretty hefty. Not everyone can afford to pay their gas bill, which is horrible. I know this first hand, honestly, how wretched it can be to go without heat in a house for several months. It can mean no heat, no warm water and for some, no way to cook food unless they own a microwave. In my area, one of the biggest gas providers is National Fuel. All year round, whenever a gas bill is sent out, there is an option to donate a few dollars to their assistance program, which is hosted by Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army. If you can not afford a bill, you simply go down to either of these places, talk to the ones in charge and they help you out. However, unless generous people out there donate to this cause, there is only so much these organizations can do. Every little bit helps, trust me. And the warm feeling you’ll get knowing that someone out there can have a warm home is more rewarding than anything else you can ever feel.
Toys for Tots
I think everyone has heard of Toys for Tots, but, if you haven’t here’s a basic run down. You donate a new, unwrapped toy to the organization (You see barrels and boxes in store fronts just for these donations) and then they are wrapped and given to children whose parents can’t truly afford much – if anything – for christmas. That way every child who is in need can at least have a merry christmas. This orgization was started by the United States Marine Corp. Reserves and has so far had a 59 year history. There are two ways to help make sure a child has a merry holiday. The first, I mentioned, buying a toy and donating it, however, Toys for Tots also accept cash donations, which, in my opinion are better. Cash donations can mean the USMC can purchase toys in bulk, further expanding beyond what they would only get from toys to ensure that the (this years estimates) more than 13 million children currently living in poverty can be reached.
Help a neighbor
When my father passed away two years ago, it created a great hardship on my mother. She had lost her main source of support and with her job not being the best, she was struggling to make ends meet. She would come home from work, collapse in exhaust only to get up and have to do it all again the next day. She began to dread winter, because she knew it could mean having to also spend an unknown amount of time shoveling the driveway to ensure her arrival to work on time. However, this was perhaps the most touching thing that continued into a second year that my neighbors ever could do. After a big snow storm, my mother was getting all set to go out and fight the elements when she looked outside and saw the neighbor’s 17 year old son shoveling our driveway. This one-time help was more than she ever could have wanted, however, when it happened again last winter, that’s when she realized that neighbors DO care. Even if it’s so little as helping out by shoveling a driveway, do it. Offer to help carry groceries in if they seem to be struggling. Neighbors helping neighbors is a beautiful way to help those less fortunate.
Whatever you do this winter and all year long, take into consideration those less fortunate. Donate to a cause whenever you are able to, help a friend, neighbor or stranger out if you have the means to. When people start showing they care, others can begin to feel hope for themselves. Even if they’ve been down for a long time.