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How to Make an Impact this Holiday Season

By: Maria Werner-- 2014-12-11 2:08 pm --

Volunteering is an excellent way to promote family bonding, while creating a lasting impact in your community. Children learn through observation and actively absorb and mimic the behavioral patterns of their parents. Kids who regularly engage in volunteer work are less likely to develop at-risk behaviors later on. By encouraging young children to participate in their community, you can support and strengthen their emotional and intellectual growth. Here are just a few ways that you and your family can become more involved this holiday season.

  1. Help lessen poverty. With the temperature continuing to drop, those experiencing poverty, hunger, and homelessness are in desperate need of assistance. 49 million Americans, including 16 million children, live in food-insecure situations where they do not get enough to eat. By volunteering your time at a soup kitchen, food bank, or homeless shelter, you can serve America’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged demographics, while teaching your children invaluable life lessons about gratitude and humility.
  2. Help senior citizens. About 46 percent of seniors living in assisted living facilities are childless, and over 50 percent report that they don’t have relatives who visit them. As a result, solitude and isolation are rampant among elderly people. Fortunately, there are programs available to help mitigate their loneliness. By devoting just a few hours of your time interacting with elderly people, you and your family have the power to create a tremendous and long-lasting impact on the happiness and psychological well-being of senior citizens.
  3. Help animals. Like humans, homeless pets face higher risk of death in wintertime. Unfortunately, many stray pets lack the ability to seek out warmer accommodations, and there aren’t nearly enough organizations to cater to the homeless animal population. Bring your family to an animal shelter and volunteer your time engaging with the cats and dogs. You can further your impact by participating in a trap-neuter-return program where you can help to stabilize feral cat populations and decrease future rates of homelessness.
  4. Help your family, friends, and neighbors. Sometimes it’s the small gestures that create the biggest impact. Welcome your new neighbors to the block by surprising them with a platter of freshly baked cookies, or shovel your neighbor’s driveway after a heavy storm. Offer to assist a friend or family member with household chores or babysitting, so they can lessen their load and have more time to relax.
  5. Help a stranger. Show your ceaseless commitment to charity by never missing an opportunity to help another person in need. Whether you see a car stranded on the side of the road or a stranger asks to borrow your phone, small acts of kindness can make a profound impact in a person’s life.

Volunteering can be as beneficial to your own mood as it is for those you help. It’s a way to spend time with your family, while helping to create a stronger community in the process. Devoting your time, skills, and compassion to help others in need is the most valuable gift you can give, and it’s sure to create lasting family memories that your children will carry well into adulthood.