It's December and for some people that means holidays, festivities, shopping, and eating a whole lot of food. For other families it means the added stress of trying to make things jolly and bright when just paying the bills and keeping food on the table is a challenge. I've found that no matter how little you have, there is always someone who has less than you and there is always something you can do to offer help or encouragement. At times it's our own lack of planning or focus on our busy life that gets in the way of helping others, but sometimes we aren't sure what would feel supportive and so we don't do anything. With that in mind here is a list of things you can this December, but keep in mind that these aren't seasonal ideas any more than peace, love and joy are seasonal ideals.
Food assistance only pays for food.
Think of things that aren't food that people need and you have a bounty
of ways to help: a case of toilet paper, tooth brushes, tooth paste,
floss, shampoo and conditioner, shaving essentials, contact solution and
household cleaners. It helps if you know the family well enough to know
what brands they use or what chemicals and additives they avoid. While
rummaging through the medicine cabinet is not encouraged, it doesn't
hurt to make a mental note of what brand toothpaste and shampoo they
have when you are at their house for a visit.
expensive, but pets are family, too. If you can find out what brands of
feed they eat you can leave the furry, feathered and scaly family
members a goody basket on the front porch. If you don't have a clue,
consider a gift card to a nearby pet or feed store.
world there are so many places to go and things to do, but for a family
to go and do it can cost a week's worth of groceries to visit a museum
or the zoo. Consider giving tickets to the movies, an event or concert.
If you can afford more, a family membership can be enjoyed for the
entire next year.
Offer to add someone to your cell phone plan. This is an awesome
gift for a tween or teen, but could be helpful to adults as well.
the utility bill, rent or mortgage for the month of December. This is
one of my fantasies of things I will do when we have lots of money.
Paying a large bill for someone frees up the money they would have spent
on that bill to go towards other things. In some cases, paying a large
bill for someone frees them from the stress of trying to figure out how
the hell they are going to pay the bills that month.
Handing people money can feel awkward or too general. You want to help,
but you'd like to meet a specific need or have the money go towards
something fun. There are gift cards for just about everything these days
and you can use them to gift $5 or $5,000.
Even as an
adult I believe in holiday magic. Deep inside there is the belief that
opening my mailbox, front door or paypal account could reveal a gift
that is unexpected and life changing. But more realistically, I love
unexpected surprises, the thoughtful gift, the feeling that some one
understands where we are at and wants to help. It may be winter squash
left on my doorstep by a friend or a bag of groceries delivered with a
hug. The warm fuzzy feeling that results is wonderful.
fuzzy feeling isn't reserved for the recipient. Doing something nice for
someone feels good. Giving to charities is fine, but giving to a
specific individual or family tends to feel a lot more meaningful.