It’s not easy to think about the poor when you face a full table of basted turkey, potato dumplings and cranberries. Far from being a happy time, many families dread the season with feelings of depression and frustration. One of the best ways to feel the giving spirit is by taking steps to help those in need.
Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin Alexander Burridge. He has given back to the community via annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Below, Austin Burridge highlights several unique ways ordinary citizens can help those less fortunate, not just during the holidays, but year round.
Think About the Homeless
It’s easy to turn a blind eye when the holidays get closer. Everyone is busy preparing for the next big event, but taking a few minutes every day to think about how lucky you are to put food on your table is the first step toward thinking about ways you can help the homeless.
Set Up a Donation Fund
Plunking a few bills into the Salvation Army kettle is easy to do. Many believe this is the epitome of charity. If you want to make a difference, you should ask around for someone you can help personally. Long before the holiday season arrives, you can set aside some money out of every paycheck exclusively for donations to the poor. Then you can distribute your fund money when the holidays come.
Invite Someone to Dinner
You are not likely to invite a stranger into your home, but if you’ve done a little homework, you would know someone you could help in other ways. If you know a relative or friend down on their luck, invite them to your home for supper. If you don’t know them personally, offer to take them out for lunch or dinner at a local restaurant and pay for their meal with your fund money. It’s an excellent way to get to know them better.
Help Stock the Food Bank Shelves
Food banks supply food to the needy every day of the year and are often faced with empty shelves when the holidays arrive. Part of your food donation money can go to buying non-perishable food items and deliver them to the nearest food bank. They will appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness.
Donate to Charity from Special Sales
A garage or yard sale can help clean clutter gathering dust in your garage and attic. Get rid of those unused items and donate the money to charity. If you love to bake, sew or have some unique talents (and who doesn’t), you can set up a booth at a flea market to sell your wares and donate the proceeds.
Volunteer Your Time
So you’re not very solvent yourself, but you can donate your time to help out during the holidays when soup kitchens need staff to serve meals and smiles. Cooking or serving hot food are good ways to get to know the destitute and homeless. It can help you realize that you are connected to every living being on the planet, rich or poor. By simply helping out, you may build a friendship for life. Perhaps that person out of luck may turn his life around and become one of those rags to riches stories you’ve only read about. Wouldn’t it make you feel great to know you had a hand in helping someone fulfill their human potential?
About Austin Alexander Burridge:
Austin Alexander Burridge is a student at Winona State University in Minnesota and is currently pursuing a Major in Environmental Sciences, with an emphasis in Biology, and a Minor in Sociology. He has a deep interest in understanding the relation of sustainable ecological systems to the environment and is an impassioned advocate for the conservation of natural resources.