Hi guys! Happy Thanksgiving week!!
I’ve been meaning to hit publish on this blog post for a long time now, but for whatever reason, I haven’t gotten to sit down and finish it until now. I think the timing works perfectly though, because we all tend to be more mindful, generous and grateful during the Holiday season.
Ever since I was little, my parents instilled in me to make it a priority in life to help and serve others (even when resources were scarce). It’s one of the things I value the most, but I’ve always found it difficult to share because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m writing about this to gloat or for you to think that I’m some kind of angel because I’m very far from that. I’m just a person, like you, with limited resources, but with a heart that constantly aches because of what’s going on around me. Truth is, I often help because other shared about it and that’s all I’m trying to do here.
I don’t like to feel helpless and often times it’s exactly how it feels when you try to help others. All the sudden you come face to face with the fact of how big some problems are, and you have to learn how to make peace with knowing that even though you can’t fix every little problem out there on your own, you can make a HUGE difference to someone’s life and that has to be enough. And it is enough.
Here are some tangible things you can start doing to make your community and the world a better place: (we practice these and I’m only covering causes we are involved with, but there are SO MANY others, so I encourage you to read more on the subject).
- Step one is to find a cause (or causes) that you really care about. If you are just getting started, just pick one. Whatever comes to your mind first. Make it a point to donate to them every month. I think this is a great way to start because it creates the habit of giving and it always leads to do more.
- Adopt a child. We help this little girl in Guatemala, through an organization called Children Incorporated. They are amazing and we love receiving letters, updates and photos from her. Our hope is to meet her one day. We pay around $45, and even though it doesn’t sound like much, it’s making a huge difference in her life and in her education.
- Call your local shelter and ask what their needs are. It’s so simple. You don’t even have to go to the shelter to bring anything. Ask them if it’s ok to send a shipment directly from Amazon or grocery store, or from wherever you’re buying from. They most likely be ok with it, just make sure to ask first. Sometimes their needs are so small (like socks in cities like Chicago) and you will be making an impact directly.
- You can do the same at your local orphanage (it’s a simple Google search). They always need things like sheets, toys, food, clothing, coats or monetary donations. Just call and ask, it doesn’t take much. Keep in mind that sometimes a Facebook search is better than a Google search. Some of these organizations are so small they don’t even have websites.
- Bring coats, blankets, food, water, socks, hot chocolate or coffee for the homeless. I’ve learned that homeless women are always in need of underwear and feminine products, so I make these little paper bags with a few pads and a couple of panties to give to them. Men and women always need toothbrushes, toothpaste, hygiene products and socks. Just put everything in your car one day and go out to areas where homeless people are. It only takes a couple of hours. (hot beverages are always appreciated in cold cities). If you are bringing food, bring things that are easy to chew. It’s sad but a lot of these people don’t have teeth, so it’s hard for them to bite something hard like a granola bar for example.
- Buy gift cards and have them with you in your bag or wallet. I usually buy $15 Subway ones because I want to make sure whoever receives it is able to get a nice, healthy meal. You can also get $5 ones for coffee or from 7 Eleven. Whatever you can think of will help someone. I guarantee that.
- Support Streetwise (I don’t know if this is only in Chicago). Have you seen people all over city selling these magazines? They are just $2 and this is why you should help them: Homeless people buy these these magazines from Streetwise with their own money and then, they re-sell them for $2. This amazing organization empowers people to work instead of begging for money. It gives them dignity. I think they also provide them with meals.
- If you are a part of a Church, get involved with them. We go to Soul City Church here in Chicago (and sometimes City Church) and they are both very good at helping others, in our community and around the world, so getting involved with your Church is always a great way to make a difference.
- During the Holidays, I try to keep with me some chocolates and candies to give out to the train or bus driver. I feel like they are always overlooked and they put up with so much crap and still do their jobs and brings us home safely every day. Don’t take that for granted.
- Donate your time. Serve somewhere. Try to find a cause that you care about. Puppies make you happy? Then volunteer at your local shelter. People are not the only ones who need help and we can’t all care about the same causes, so I mean it when I say, whatever it is that you care about, get involved. You don’t have to have extra money for it.
It’s easier if you include ‘giving’ in your monthly budget (and if you don’t have a budget, I recommend you to create one. It has made a huge difference in our finances). I personally try to give 10% of my monthly income, whether it is to church or other causes I care about. Again, it doesn’t have to be this much. My parents taught me to do things this way and that’s why I do it. It’s a Church principle. Just know that you don’t have to be religious to help and ANYTHING you give makes a HUGE difference.
I suggest you to start small. Set $20 apart each month and buy $5 gift cards or donate them to a cause you care about. You may think that $20 is nothing, but to someone who has nothing, $20 is everything. Also, $20 in other countries can support a family for a month, so it is a lot of money.
Always remember that there’s no donation too big or too small. I can’t state that enough. Don’t let anyone tell you how much you should or shouldn’t give. Giving and serving others selflessly is something that comes from your heart and that’s so personal. Just follow your heart on this.
If there are ways you help your community, please leave them in the comments below for me and other people to read. It’s always great to have new, fresh ideas on how to make a difference in this world we all share.
Thanks so much for stopping by and happy giving!
Beautifully written and so many useful tips I have never really thought about!
Thanks for writing about this :)
Happy Thanksgiving and happy holidays