The title of this article might conjure up diametrically opposed emotions. “COVID” may evoke anxiousness, fear and weariness, while “holidays” may elicit smiles, warmth and nostalgia. We are not the only ones to have these feelings. The “at-risk” community lives it right here in the FMWF area. These brave souls have daily struggles that, if you are like me, we have never experienced and cannot imagine. These folks rely on the reputable, effective and fabulous non-profits that with great passion meet them where they are to help, empower and uplift.
How do we “give back” during the COVID-era holiday season? Before I answer this, I want to instill a sense of urgency in us all. The daily struggles of the people mentioned above have been exponentially exacerbated by COVID. The people that struggled for food and shelter still have those daily struggles but now they have even deeper economic, health and educational challenges. Non-profit organizations are doing everything they can to serve, but they need a community to rally around them and partner with them. How can you do this?
- Advocate: Advocating is so much simpler than writing a letter to a politician or picking up a sign. You learn about a cause that gets you at the heart level, you then speak about that cause. If you have a passion for seeing children grow up and succeed, or families have food on the table, or pets finding homes - you find a cause that “gets you” or “fits you” and you learn, then share. You share their posts on social media to your personal or professional page, you pick up some of their info cards and share them at the office or with close personal friends, you send the “holiday update” email you got with some of your closest colleagues and family. These are all forms of advocating.
- Connect: Reach out to a non-profit organization that “gets you” or “fits you.” Address a letter, send an email, or message and let them know you stand ready to help. Send them some encouragement letting them know you were thinking of them and have their back. Additionally, reach out to someone you know has been struggling. I saw a post go viral on LinkedIn that basically said “If you’ve lost your job, or have been impacted professionally by COVID let me buy you a beer or a cup of coffee and we can chat.” This is powerful. This can be transformational to simply know that you are being thought of and can lift your spirits. When your spirits are lifted, it impacts other parts of your life.
- Give: Winston Churchill famously said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Giving electrifies the soul and warms the heart. The altruistic act of giving can accomplish so much. For Thanksgiving, buy a couple gift cards to local grocery store and give them to someone who could use that boost. Go to your favorite non-profit and support their mission. Give in the name of someone that means a lot to you. That way the non-profit organization gets the gift, and that special person gets recognized for their philanthropy. For Christmas, go buy supplies, food and winter clothes and donate them to a homeless shelter or food pantry. Get some gift certificates for food delivery, restaurants or stores and give them to people who are just trying to get by.
- Go: Who me? Yeah, you, and me! We can go but going in the COVID-era holidays can look different. Sure, you can mask up and sanitize all the things to go out, but some of us may not be comfortable. How can I/you/we go? Drop off a care package at someone’s business or home showing them you care. Reach out to a non-profit telling them you would like to do thank-you emails and calls to their participants or supporters. Stock shelves at a food pantry in the off hours where there is little or no traffic. If you are already going shopping, get someone’s list and grab those things, saving them the trip. Have a virtual dinner with a family that you know could use some kinds words, smiles and encouragement.
Just because COVID has upended EVERYTHING, that does not mean that a COVID-era holiday season needs to be any less giving! Creativity is the name of the game. I have supplied ideas and suggestions, now you choose what fits you best.
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