The holidays are a special time of the year for most of us, but for some there is a feeling of abandonment and loneliness. The National Retail Federation has estimated that Americans will spend approximately $465 billion on holiday gifts this year.
However, the holidays are not only about receiving gifts, but about giving to those in need. I have always enjoyed giving back to others in the community around the holidays, and I have been doing so since I was a child. I find a sense of satisfaction and joy through putting a smile on someone’s face.
Being a local Chicago activist and founder of the OMNI Medical Student Training Program, I aim to center my life around philanthropy through charitable donations and acts of kindness. Giving back gives me a sense of comfort, happiness, and satisfaction. I believe it can do the same for you.
A recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute found that giving is positively related to life satisfaction. This act of compassion goes both ways, it has been proven that those who give to others experience increased overall happiness and reduced stress. Studies have also shown that happiness and health improves in those who volunteer or make charitable contributions, it also reduces stress levels.
Why Give Around the Holidays?
It is important to consider giving back to your community around the holiday season. Many people in the world do not have family members to spend the holidays with, or they are not fortunate enough to have a comfortable and warm holiday. Therefore, I take accountability for myself and make efforts to help others have an easier time around the holidays.
Some examples of how I give back to my community include: an annual turkey giveaway, donating backpacks to those in need for back to school, and donating hats and gloves to the homeless in Chicago.
I have been doing an Annual Turkey Giveaway for the last eights years, during which I donate anywhere from 300-1,000 turkeys to community members in need in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Helping others with their additional cost is a true joy and a very rewarding experience. When you think about the holiday season, you should also consider it as the season of giving!
As the holiday season is quickly approaching, I encourage everyone to give back to their community this holiday season. I hope that the season can inspire people, and warm their hearts to give all year long. Is is important to be kind everyday, even if it is simply checking in on your neighbor or buying someone behind you in line a coffee!
Simple Ways to Give back During the Holiday Season:
- Go through your closet and donate any old clothes you no longer use
- Pass out food at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter on Christmas and Thanksgiving or at least once a month
- Provide your local food bank with dry goods, toilet trees, and non perishables
- Volunteer at a nearby nursing home and spend time with those who need companionship
I encourage you to take the time to research local organizations that need help and give what you can to provide comfort and joy. This is also a great opportunity to teach your children that the holiday season is about giving and not only getting. Keep in mind that there are thousands of people in the country that do not have a family to spend the holidays with, limited resources, or even a meal to have on these special days.
There are numerous places that one can volunteer at to help make a difference in your local community. Other national organizations that are great to get involved with include: Toys for Tots, Cradles for Crayons, and the Ronald Mcdonald House.
Simple acts of kindness are a two way street. You are gifting others joy and putting a smile on their face, while you have the opportunity to gain satisfaction, reduce your stress level, and get involved with the less fortunate. I believe that it is important for everyone to give a little at this time of the year and hope more will begin to do so!
About the author
Theresa Siaw is the founder and CEO of the OMNI Medical Student Training Program. She is also a local activist in the Humboldt Park community and a board member of Roseland Hospital, IL. She dedicates her time to the community and the importance of education.