Holidays: an opportunity to help others in need

Steve Corbin is emeritus professor of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a freelance writer who receives no remuneration, funding, or endorsement from any for-profit business, nonprofit organization, political action committee, or political party.      

Thankfully we are nearly six weeks past the 2022 midterm election. I can hear many voters exuding a sigh of relief and shouting, after $17 billion was spent on disinformation, misinformation, and the occasional truthful political ad, “yes, finally, the election is over.”

Normal life is back, and we’ve jumped right into the holiday season. Let’s ponder how to make this year's holiday season better than we’ve experienced heretofore.

First, let’s recognize the word “holiday” means Holy Day. Next, let’s value that holidays are celebrated from both a religious and cultural perspective. Then, we need to acknowledge the holy day is celebrated throughout the world.

If we can agree on these three premises, they might—just might—cause us to develop a better appreciation of others and approach the 2022 holiday season from a more holistic and inclusive perspective.

For centuries the holidays celebrated include Bodhi Day (Buddhist), Christmas (Christian), Diwali (Hindu), Eid al-Fitr (Muslim), Hanukkah (Jewish), Kwanzaa (African-American), Lunar New Year (East Asia) and Winter Solstice (Indigenous), to name a few.

Dr. Mike Ronsisvalle, a Florida-based psychologist, has argued that in faith-based traditions, the holidays were a time when people were to purposely change their behavior. For some, however, the holiday season will be static and self-centered, only thinking of and gifting to those within their own family.

How might we intentionally change our behavior this holiday season?

Reverting back to Americans spending nearly $17 billion on political candidates, which amounts to $162.84 per voter, a challenge is offered. For every dollar you contributed to a candidate for public office, intentionally give that same amount to a not-for-profit charity, which may need financial assistance more than some politician needs funds for re-election.

Didn’t give to a politician or party? If so, contact your local food bank and offer to spend a few hours volunteering, and/or contribute money (a gift as small as one dollar can help provide ten meals). Don’t forget, most post-secondary institutions of higher learning also have food pantries to assist students in need.

Inquire if there are any residents at a long-term care facility or hospital who might like a fruit basket, personal care items, phone call or a ten minute in-person visit. Your outreach endeavor may assist those who are lonely and isolated during a time period that should be joyful.

About 600,000 Americans lack stable housing, of whom at least 30,000 are veterans. With input from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Impactful Ninja website highlighted the seven "best charities for helping homeless people." All received a Charity Watch grade of A+. Your community may have organizations that serve unhoused people locally.

If you are seeking to help make a positive impact upon kids in need, approximately 117,470 children are waiting to be adopted in America. Impactful Ninja published a list of ten best charities to support foster care. The top three, in terms of overall impact, are Foster Care to Success, Together We Rise, and Children’s Defense Fund.

My favorite global, nonprofit organization that provides medical services to those affected by war, disaster, or disease is the International Medical Corps.

Consider contacting your local Kiwanis, Rotary, or Lions Club (all are non-sectarian) to seek membership. Their multitude of service projects would give you year-round opportunities to help people and organizations in your community.

While spending time with your family is important, consider thinking outside the box and devoting some time to helping others. It may be the start of a new holiday tradition, giving the festive season a more meaningful perspective.

Happy Holy Days!

Top photo of volunteers is the work of Dragana Gordic, and is available via Shutterstock.

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