It always seems that during the holidays we start to think about giving back to our community. Why is that? Why do the approaching holidays always make us think about being more generous with our time? Is it because we feel obligated? Or is it simply because “it’s the holidays” so therefore you have to be more charitable? Sometimes we tend to look at charity and giving back as though it’s an obligation, something we have to do rather than something we want to do.
Growing up, my mom instilled in me the importance of giving back. We always donated to the local food pantries and we were always the ones to contribute during the post office’s “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive. If we had clothes that no longer fit or we weren’t wearing, we always donated them to the local shelters. During the firemen’s “Fill the Boot Campaign,” we always donated our loose change and bills. I never looked at charity and giving back as something I was obligated to do. I looked at it as something I wanted to do. It was important to me to feel as though I were making a small difference in someone’s life, and I never expected anything in return. Still today I always make sure to donate and give back. Thanks Mom!
How do you feel when you give back? Do you feel happy? Are you content? I know I am. I think often times we operate under the misguided notion that charity and giving back equals a win with God. That somehow, by giving back, we automatically have a spot secured in Heaven. Now, I’ve never met the Big Guy upstairs and I hope to not for a very, very long time, but I don’t think it works that way. I don’t think God wants us to do charity because we feel obligated to Him. I feel as though He would rather see those doing good because they want to. He would rather see someone contributing out of the goodness, the pureness of their hearts than someone who only does so because they want that spot. Charity and giving back shouldn’t be about winning or losing.
If you are not sure where or how to start being charitable, start with the small things. Donate to your local shelters and food pantries. Participate in clothing drives. Collect change and give it to the local rescue missions or other charity organizations. Any little bit you can contribute helps those in need.
If you’re looking to be more involved during the holidays, start talking to your local shelters. They might need volunteers during Thanksgiving and Christmas to help serve food or deliver meals. Talk to someone about sponsoring a family or an individual who might not have anyone to spend the holidays with. If you love animals, see about spending time at a local animal shelter to give out furry four legged friends some love during the holidays as well.
The most important thing to understand though is charity and goodwill doesn’t (and shouldn’t) just exist during the holidays. It’s something we should be doing every single day.
How do you give back? What are some other ways people can be more involved in their communities?