By elaine | January 16, 2014
Happy New Year! By the time you read this, you’ve probably heard that more times than you can count. But there’s something exciting about each new year. No matter how the previous year turned out, it seems as if January 1st ushers in lots of new possibilities, both in tasks and relationships. These articles I’ve been writing over past months are all about connecting. I look at connecting as improving relationships, with ourselves and others, through tasks and activities. So I guess that’s why I like each new year; it’s a new commitment to improving our connections and relationships.
For January 2014, we’re going to look at connecting with your “charitable heart.” Over the years people have stepped up to help you out when you needed it. There’s something very special about being able to be of service to another person, whether you know them personally or not. A rewarding way to begin 2014 is to find a small way to help someone.
- Is your son or daughter a member of a Scout troop or youth fellowship at church? As a group they can step up to provide babysitting (of course with adult supervision) for a “parents night out”. Find a community location and have the children dropped off for a few hours of fun and games while their parents have a date night. This same group can offer a hand in mowing lawns, raking leaves, or making small repairs for the home of a deployed soldier’s family.
- Help with a literacy program in your area to encourage someone to learn how to read. If you enjoy reading, volunteer to read to young children at a local school or daycare center. When you’re reading aloud, remember to “become” all the wonderful characters in the book through your voice and facial expressions. Kids love to see you be a part of the story.
- I love this charitable idea one woman sent to me: She was soon to give birth to her first child and her husband was deployed. So the community held an old fashioned bake sale and raised enough money to fly in one of her relatives to be with her instead! There were smiles all around for that one!
- Where can you volunteer? Even a few hours a month can make a big difference to the organization or people involved. Put your organization skills to work for your local Hospice, Humane Society Shelter or Goodwill store. Volunteer at the VA hospital to honor those who have served. Churches can always use free help from maintenance to childcare to working with women’s and men’s groups. Get your kids together and volunteer to serve dinner at a homeless shelter. We did that on New Year’s Eve and it was great to see the kids “giving” instead of “getting” over the holidays.
- For personal reasons, I support Gift of Life Transplant House, a home away from home for those awaiting transplants and their support persons. People are there for a long time. “Guests” of the house love to receive notes that let them know they are not forgotten. We write “thinking of you” notes and send them to the staff to be delivered to the guests as they are needed to brighten up a few lives. How about doing the same for the families at Fisher House or the Ronald McDonald House?
- Have a few extra dollars? Make a donation for coverage of a single night’s lodging for those in need at any of the support homes mentioned in the suggestion above. It doesn’t take as much as you think. For example, $30 covers 1 nights lodging for those at Gift of Life. Look into the cost of lodging at the other venues…you might be surprised.
- Can you sew? Make a quilt for Quilts of Valor. Their mission is to cover all combat service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing quilts. Review their specs and requirements at www.qovf.org.
The best part of connecting with your charitable heart is that it feels great! You can make a difference in the lives of people you may never meet. The above suggestions and ideas utilize your skills, your talents, and your passion. Enjoy 2014 and thank you for making it a better year for someone else.