Whether or not you celebrate winter holidays, this time of year is known as the “holiday season”. Upbeat songs about snowmen and Santa take over the majority of radio stations, and people are generally in good spirits…until they realize the gifts they planned on buying someone are on backorder. Sadly, I feel like this year is a little different. It’s no exaggeration that our world is a mess; every time you turn on the news or log onto social media it’s either a political argument or a story about another tragedy. I’m not saying it’s important to discuss these things, because it is. I’m also not claiming that I know how to solve these problems because trust me, I don’t. I can’t even find a way to tame my curly hair on most days. I am, however, trying to bring back a little positivity and “holiday spirit” back into the world. A big part of this season is helping others, and over the past few days, I’ve found resources that can be used to help others, or resources that you can use if you’re in need. Despite our heavy hearts due to tragic events that are happening almost daily, maybe we can use this time to come together and help those that are suffering.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs is one organization that allows others the opportunity to help, and also gives back to others. The site allows you to make a monetary donation, but if you’re more of a hands-on person, you can also use the site to find a local veteran’s center to physically volunteer at. If you are a veteran who is struggling, this organization also helps with career opportunities, and gives resources that can help with illnesses such as PTSD. This is a great way to give back since many veterans return from active duty and struggle with returning to their daily lives.
If you are the owner of a dog, another way to give back to the community is to have your pet become a certified therapy dog. The American Kennel Club has a list of organizations in each state that certify dogs and their owners for this program. Once certified, you can bring your dog to places that are in need of some stress release, such as nursing homes, colleges, and shelters. Studies have suggested that those suffering from depression and anxiety can benefit from therapy dogs, so if you have the time to have your dog certified, this can be very beneficial to the community. If you are in need of a therapy dog session, many local libraries and some universities offer therapy dog sessions at least once a month.
During this time of year, the elderly are often forgotten about. Some may not have any living relatives left, while others may have relatives that live miles away. As a result, it is important to remember our senior citizens in the community, and how they might be feeling unloved during this time of year. “Socks for Seniors” is a program that simply asks for fun, colorful sock donations. These socks are then donated to senior citizens in nursing homes, hospitals, and homeless shelters. Although it’s an incredibly small gift, it still shows the elderly that they have a group of people who care.
There are also other well-known organizations such as “Toys for Tots” and local food banks that you can help out this holiday season. If you have a little extra time or room in your budget, helping out those in need can bring back a little faith in humanity. Also, if you are in need of any of these services, remember that these organizations, and plenty of others are willing to help out. I know the world seems terrifying right now, but by helping each other out, we can bring a little optimism back into each other’s lives.
This article was written by Kim Dilisio, a writer for dusk magazine.