Bob Denny: You too can be a Santa's helper
Published: Monday, December 10, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 11:08 p.m.
Did you miss Black Friday? How about Cyber Monday? Can you find even more bargains, or opportunities, before Christmas?
You many have missed a bargain, but there are far better opportunities waiting for you to take advantage of.
How about an opportunity to find a little more joy, an opportunity that could bring you a lot more good feelings than just finding a bargain and saving a few bucks? And, you don't even need to camp out outside a department store to get it.
The holiday season is arriving, and with it there are always needs in your community. So many folks out there aren't able to have a happy holiday season. You could make a big difference in those lives, and earn yourself some really good feelings as your own reward.
You may ask, “How can I help?” You may have served as a volunteer before. If not, you'd be surprised at the abundant chances there are to make a real difference. There's really unlimited opportunity, ranging from just wearing a pink shirt or cap for breast cancer awareness, to working 10 or 20 hours or more a week in a charitable or a nonprofit organization like a hospital or a soup line.
Here are a few suggestions where help is needed and appreciated, whatever you can do to help.
■ Service clubs, police and firemen, even some branches of the military service, have special projects for the holidays — things like Toys for Tots, golf tournaments, collecting cans of food.
It could be as simple as helping a neighbor fix a sink, doing some grounds work or mowing a lawn. All you have to do is notice a need in your neighborhood and offer to help.
■ Churches typically have special holiday activities. Our church has a “pastor's discretionary fund,” where he can give direct help to folks in need who have contacted him, or the church.
■ Your church may put on special music, or need to fill roles in the pageant.
■ Would you like to be a “Santa's helper?” Elves are always needed to help Santa at community events, or shopping centers. Or you could be a greeter?
■ How about answering children's letters to Santa? The post office usually has a pile of letters needing answering.
Do you have a special skill or talent? Most communities have celebrations using choirs, concerts, parades or tree lighting ceremonies. I perform with our country western band, “Cowboy Dave and Friends,” whenever we're asked.
■ How about helping serve dinner at a shelter, taking meals to shut-ins, or gathering toys for kids who may not otherwise get presents? I used to assemble and restore old bicycles for neighborhood kids.
■ You can also come up with your own ideas of ways to help. Each year I see stories on TV news about young people who act on their own ideas—cellphones for military troops, “Pay it forward,” or collecting used jackets for thrift stores to hand out.
Keep your eyes and ears open. There are always needs in your community that aren't met. Here's your chance.
You can decide what, and how much, you want to do. To help patients at a hospital, it costs them almost as much to process the paperwork and background check for a volunteer as for a regular employee. With their commitment, they may ask for a certain number of volunteer hours. On the other hand, some volunteer opportunities, like serving a holiday dinner at a shelter, may just ask you to show up. Do a little, or do a lot. It's good for you, and good for your community, and for all of us.
Think you'd like to volunteer? You could make it a better holiday season for yourself, and for those in whose life you can make a difference. Make it a great holiday season. Thanks for your service!
Bob Denny counseled troubled youth and families for 15 years in Florida, and teaches psychology at Florida Gateway College. Your comments are welcome at Bob.Denny8@gmail.com.
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