The other day, a family member asked what my children wanted for Christmas. I stopped to think, and I realized I was struggling to come up with things that my children don’t already have.
We have a trampoline they bounce on for hours. Their bikes are in pretty good condition. They have clothes that fit their little styles and keep them warm and dry. We have shelves of books and drawers of art supplies that surely need gone through. Dolls and toys galore.
My kids will absolutely get Christmas presents, but every now and then that little reality check to remind you how much you have to be grateful for is a good thing – especially when you consider harrowing statistics such as:
- An estimated 42.5 million Americans and 14 million people from the UK are currently living in poverty.
- Worldwide, an estimated 150 million people live in “extreme poverty,” which is defined as “living on less than $1.90 a day”.
In light of the pandemic, which has led to an additional 97 million individuals globally falling below the poverty line, there has never been a better time than right now to give back to communities and individuals who are suffering.
The Importance of Giving Back
At The Lily-Jo Project, we are all about empowering individuals to live their lives to the fullest – and we recognize that this is impossible in cases where basic essentials such as food, water, shelter, sanitation, and healthcare are out of reach.
That’s why we’d love to encourage you this holiday season to find a way to give to your community. This will not only help to lift up those around you, but your mental health will also benefit from giving back.
Specifically, being kind and gracious to others can help us:
- Feel a sense of belonging to our community
- Reduce feelings of loneliness
- Boost our mood and energy levels
- Feel relaxed and content
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression
- Lower our blood pressure
So, now that we know the stats and the benefits of giving back, what can we do about it? It’s not enough to simply be aware or “trauma informed”… we must also be “trauma responsive” and take action.
Need some inspiration? Here’s five ideas for giving big this holiday season!
5 Ways to Give Big This Season
Volunteer to make a difference.
I run a charity organization in my community called “We Are the Village”. My organization is working to fill 300 stockings full of hygiene items, hats and gloves, and non perishable snacks for our area homeless shelters. It has been a team effort, and many local businesses have donated to the cause.
If you have a heart to serve, you’ll likely be surprised by how many will join you and contribute to your efforts.There are many organizations out there designed to help those in poverty, those suffering from illness, abuse, trauma, etc. Find one that speaks to your heart and donate some time to volunteer!
Teach your children about hunger, poverty, homelessness, etc.
If we want our future generations to be compassionate, generous, and aware about what’s going on in the world, it’s our job as parents to open their eyes to it.
For example, my children and I have recently had a discussion about why we are working so hard to help the homeless this season. My daughter was floored that we actually needed 300 stockings. “We really have that many that are homeless, Mom?” Yes, sweet girl, and that is just in our little community.
Give in small ways.
Bake cookies for relatives. Find a family that has been struggling with illness or life changes and take them dinner. Offer to hold that baby crying in the store while Mom hurriedly places items on the scanner belt. Tell her she’s doing a GREAT job. These small acts of kindness are super powerful and they make our world a much better place.
The holiday season is supposed to be about celebrating things that money cannot buy. Visit a nursing home. Take lunches or snacks to people that are working hard this holiday season. Our law enforcement, medical personnel, and anyone and everyone who works in retail would surely appreciate that.
Support organizations that are making a difference.
Whether it’s sharing a post on social media or making a donation of any size, nonprofits and charities need your support now more than ever.
If you’d like to donate to our continued work with The Lily-Jo project, we are currently raising funds to help us reach more kids in schools next year – feel free to make a donation via PayPal here.
If you would like to follow or support my work with “We Are the Village”, you can find us on Facebook here.
Global Giving is another great website where you can explore charitable projects around the world and donate to the ones that speak to you.
It’s easy to feel like your donation is just a small drop in a big bucket, or that your one hour of volunteering isn’t making that big of a difference – but this couldn’t be further from the truth! It takes every single one of us, giving back what we can, to make a big difference.
More Resources on Kindness & Giving
If you found this article helpful, check out these other resources on kindness and giving back:
- The Mental Health Benefits of Being Kind
- Making Kindness a Family Affair…
- Kindness Matters guide from the Mental Health Foundation
- Resources and downloadables from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation
DePietro, A. Forbes. (2021). U.S. Poverty Rate by State 2021. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewdepietro/2021/11/04/us-poverty-rate-by-state-in-2021/?sh=5a8ad4571b38
Unicef. 2021. Child poverty. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/social-policy/child-poverty
WorldBank. (2021). Covid-19 to add as many as 150 million extreme poor by 2021. Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2020/10/07/covid-19-to-add-as-many-as-150-million-extreme-poor-by-2021
About the Author: Brandy Browne
Brandy Browne is a care coordinator for a local mental health agency in the United States, as well as a family coach and blogger for UnStuck (www.unstucks.com) – her family coaching service aimed at helping families develop positive habits and breaking the cycle of generational trauma and poverty.
Her education is in early and elementary education, and she also has a masters degree in parenting and child/adolescent development. Brandy is a wife to her high school sweetheart of fifteen years, and together they share three children, aged ten, seven, and five. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, writing, and distance running.