Giving This Holiday Season

So there are 18 days left until Christmas is officially upon us. If you celebrate Hanukkah, you have less time. There's only 13 days left until the first day! This is all to say, that I have done zero shopping this holiday season. Oops! One of the things I love about this time of year is going out and buying gifts for other people. I'm serious. I could care less if I didn't get anything this year...well other than a 9x13 casserole pan. I need one of those. I get a rush out of finding gifts for people and being able to surprise them. I like to go and buy things that aren't necessarily on their list, but something I know they'll really enjoy. For instance, I bought my dad Packers vs. Patriots tickets last year for his birthday/Christmas present. I bought two tickets so I could go with him and so he didn't have to go alone (aren't I nice?)

Anyway, all this got me thinking about families that aren't as fortunate this year and how often times we forget about people in our own community. If you take a look around, chances are you'll find someone who could use a little help this season. Heck, it may even be you. With all of the craziness surrounding this season, I thought I would provide you with a few ways you can donate your time or money this December and help out a family in need. I personally feel that giving is always better than getting, and it leaves you all warm and tingly feeling inside. Here we go!

Toys for Tots

Toys for Tots is a not for profit charity run by the U.S. Marine Corps. They help underprivileged children get some gifts for Christmas in the midst of these tough economic times. I don't know about you, but as a kid, it was always nice to find a few things under the tree each December twenty fifth. We didn't generally get much, but we still got something. Now imagine if you woke up and found nothing under the tree. Maybe some of you have experienced that first hand at some point in time. Toys for Tots is a reputable organization that helps raise funds and collects gift donations so kids can get one or a few gifts that they may have wanted. For a location near you, check here. I counted...there's abut 32 locations in Maine. There's probably one near you.

Hands of Hope

Hands of Hope is a store located in the Bangor area. They have set up Christmas trees in various locations around Maine and begun a program called "The Smile of a Child". On the trees there are cards which children have left their wishes on. The process is simple. All you have to do is grab the card off the tree, and then find the item which they want and bring it back. The gift will be sent away to the child and arrive under the tree. My friend Wesley has already bought three gifts for children, and I'm sure if you ask him, it's a great way to spend your money this holiday season.

Random Acts of Kindness

I love this one, and the great part of about a RAC is that it can be however large or small you want it to be. It could be something as small as buying the food or beverage for the person behind you in the drive thru, or as large as helping someone in need by sending them support. I have been both the recipient and the giver of a RAC. It is a humbling feeling to receive, and a...well a really amazing feeling to give. Maybe you have a friend, or even a stranger who is struggling this holiday season. Help them out, but don't disclose your identity. You can have the feeling of joy by knowing you helped them in a tough time, and they can get something they want or need. Maybe it's a warm meal, a tank of gas, a toy for their children or something more significant depending on your financial situation. Whatever the act, consider trying it sometime! You'll be happy you did.

If you don't have a ton of time, or money on your hands, you can always donate a few dollars to the Salvation Army bell ringers around the mall, or various locations. They are always grateful for what you can give. I highly encourage you to give to someone less fortunate if you can this season. What a great way to remind people one of the thing this time of year is all about!

Oh...and you should watch this too...because it's amazing.

How do you help around the holiday season?

Seth P.