As we head into the holidays and the season of giving gifts to our loved ones, I always think about how lucky I am to be able to buy those gifts for people I love. I also think about those who aren't getting special presents or aren't in the position to be able to give the same joy to their kids due to their particular circumstances in life.
Today is Giving Tuesday which supports and encourages giving back to your community and to others in any way you can. I take my team on a lot of fun and visually-inspiring field trips around Los Angeles, but recently we spent some time—not taking photos at an Instagrammable museum—but volunteering. We went to a local organization, Baby2Baby, that provides essentials for children and families in need. As we were packing bags of donated items for specific kids and seeing the basic items (clothes, shoes, blankets, toys, books) that they needed and just don't have, it can break your heart and also make you appreciate every day that much more.
If you are looking for ways to help give back in some way, here are a few...
1. Donate Money. This is the simplest thing and something you can choose to give as much or as little as you like. When I was right out of college and living paycheck to paycheck, I couldn't afford to give much, but I began sponsoring a child that I was paired with in another country. I gave $25 each month (which was something I could budget to give) and still to this day, 20 years later, sponsor a child through the same program.
2. Hold a drive at your kids' school, work, or at a birthday party. Holding a drive of any sort is a great way to collect items for an organization in need of certain items—books, toys, diapers, etc. Every year, I hold at least two drives. One is at our pre-school where I talk to the kids about helping other kids who are less fortunate. We give them big bags to take home to collect things to donate. And, the other is at my kids' birthday parties where we collect books from our guests (rather than presents) to donate. This year, we collected 100 books from the birthday party and over 3200 items from the school drive!
3. Teach your kids about giving back. It starts young, and kids learn to appreciate what they have more when they learn about those who have less. I wrote a post earlier this year about 4 Ways to Teach Young Kids About Giving Back, and I make sure to keep those things in mind especially around this time of year when kids are often being given so many things from family and friends.
4. Donate your time. This one is probably the hardest for people to do because it requires carving out time in what is already a busy and hectic time and season for everyone. One thing that donating time does is it gives you a much clearer picture of the impact you are making (both in ways that make you feel good, but also in ways that make you more sad for the situations of others you might learn about). I avoided donating time for so long because I wanted to live in a bubble of thinking that everything was just fine everywhere. If you can volunteer at a food bank, a shelter, a clothing donation center, really anywhere that your time makes a difference, you will feel much more connected to your community and the impact you can make.
I would love to hear of any other ways that you like to give back!