Participate in the “Season of Giving”

When the winter holidays roll around, we are asked to “give” and to celebrate the season of giving. We already know it’s beneficial to be charitable, but for millions of Americans, being a philanthropist is not always possible due to their own financial limitations and hard times. Fortunately, there are ways to give and make a difference without spending money. The season of giving is not about the amount of money you contribute, but rather the efforts you make to show you care, that you think of others, and you are trying to make a difference in a sometimes unjust world.


Feeling Good in a Season of Obligations


Although the “Season of Giving” is meant to be a time of doing good and thinking of others, it has also become another reason to participate in mass consumerism. Unfortunately, a good deed or a  thoughtful gesture has been replaced by a gift card or a material item that may or may not be needed or appreciated. It’s easy to feel pressured and obligated to give during the holidays, even if we can’t afford to or feel like one more material item won’t make a difference in the world.


If your family has a tradition of gift giving, suggest putting a limit on of gifts or request that they give towards a charity of your choosing rather than giving you one more kitchen gadget or household item you appreciate, but don’t need in your life. If your family is against straying from tradition, you can still do your part on your own time. Volunteerism is a great way to feel good year round, but particularly in a season of “obligations”. No one expects you to help and they are often grateful of any time you can dedicate.

Teach Children to About Gratitude


As grown-ups, most of us realize that materialism can be unnecessary and it’s easier for many of us to ask for nothing. However, children are still at the stage in their lives where toys, books, and other “wants” are important to them. As a parent or relative of a child, it may be difficult to meet all of the requests on a child’s wish list. Some good advice is to choose a few items that will foster a child’s interest, creativity, and growth. Encourage your child to choose an item from a store or even from his or her own toy collection to donate to a child in need. Teaching your child about gratitude and not giving into every want will help him or her grow up to be a more compassionate person; teaching your child to be a better person costs nothing.

Start Giving Early

Remember, you don’t need money to make a difference, but if you feel like you can’t make a real difference without donating money to a cause, start planning early so you don’t feel overwhelmed once the holidays roll around.  For instance, start a small jar of spare change. Once it’s full, donate the amount to a charity of your choice. If you plan on helping out at the local food shelf or serving meals at a homeless shelter, sign up as soon as you can as spots may fill, but there’s a good chance that there will be something to do, wherever you decide to participate in the season of giving.


The Positive Effects of Charity

Charity has many positive effects, and not just on the charity. Whether you are able to donate goods, materials and money or by volunteering your time, giving can be as beneficial for you as for the recipient of your time and charitable donations. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Reduces Stress

Being stressed out or anxious can put a lot of physical and emotional strain on a person’s body. Stress has been known to lead to serious health problems as well. When a person focuses his or her attention outward and onto someone else, it can help alleviate the personal stress or anxiety that person may be feeling. Lowered stress levels can then lead to improved health. Charity can create a little good karma that can go a very long way.

Improve Health and Increases Longevity

When an individual does not take the time to do charitable actions for others, he or she faces a 30 percent greater risk of death following a stressful life event than someone who helps others, according to a study featured in Prevention. Putting another person’s needs ahead of your own can eliminate stressors which will often lead to decreased health and shortened life span. Being charitable can help improve your mood, make you feel more optimistic and bring you joy. When your emotional state improves, it can help strengthen your immune systems and improve your physical state too.

It doesn’t have to be a lot. Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference, like offering to be a designated driver, making dinner for a sick friend, reading to someone at a senior center, donating to a local shelter, volunteering to take someone to the doctor, or picking up a friend’s kids from school when he or she can’t make it.

Volunteering Can Improve the Balance Between Work and Life

Although you probably won’t consider giving up some of your valuable time to volunteer as a way to get more free time, a study referenced in the Huffington Post says volunteering can do just that. According to this University of Zurich study, workers who also volunteer their time feel as if their lives have more of a balance. When you volunteer, you feel productive and you get a sense of accomplishment. Volunteering can also lead to other activities not associated with work, which in turn can help balance the time and attention spend on work.

Brings People With Common Goals Together

Another positive effect of charity is it brings people with common goals together. People from all different backgrounds can volunteer. Many volunteers opt to join up with an already established organizations, groups or team, where they can build camaraderie and get much more accomplished. These groups can do so much when pooling their resources.

Aids Personal Growth

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, that’s the “Golden Rule.” When you volunteer to help others and give the best of yourself, it can aid in your own personal growth as well. When a person understands someone else’s needs and the importance of community and giving, it helps to build empathy and improve self-esteem. Being able to give back or pay it forward can provide a sense of self-worth and happiness otherwise unattainable.