Give Thanks & Give Back

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it’s a good time to start reflecting on all the things you have to be grateful for. Sure, you may not make as much money as you’d like, or you can’t quite afford that new car you’ve been dreaming of. But chances are you can treat yourself to a new sweater if you feel like it, or you can buy a new pair of shoes in a bout of retail therapy. There are plenty of others around the world and in your own backyard who aren’t so lucky.

So we propose this: give back. You don’t have to have money to spare to do so. As you turn your closet over to  winter, go through the stacks of sweaters, jeans, coats and whatever else you haven’t found occasion to wear in a while and donate it. Something that’s no longer in style to you will keep someone warm and dry this season.

If you don’t turn up anything to donate, consider giving your time. Find a charity that speaks to you and volunteer, whether it’s at a soup kitchen, women’s shelter, at the humane society or with an organization like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Your time and talent are more valuable resources than you think.

And if you’re able, consider a cause that involves a monetary commitment. This time of year there are often giving trees in local communities. Little paper hats, mittens and ornaments hold the names of items needed by families and individuals such as scarves,  boots and coats. Around the holidays you see things like Lego sets or a new Barbie. They’re the kind of things most of us pay no attention to – necessities that we hardly think twice about and gifts that most would consider simple are vast luxuries to others. So the next time you walk  by a giving tree, stop a minute and see how you can help your neighbor. In the end, you probably won’t even miss the little you spend but it will make a huge difference in someone else’s life.

An option that requires hardly any effort is The Salvation Army’s online Angel Giving Tree. December 9th is the last day to participate in the program which allows you to select an “angel” in need. You can participate as an individual or create a group and “adopt” 10 or more angels with friends or through an organization.

That’s our pitch. Be thankful for what you have and pay it forward. It’s that simple.

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