One of my favorite parts about the holiday season is not the presents, it’s the general cheeriness and goodwill the season inspires in many. That idea that, yes, we really can be a little nicer to one another when there are twinkling lights and sprigs of holly around. That’s the part of Christmas I would hate to lose.
Today’s Blogmas topic is RAKs, or Random Acts of Kindness, and opportunities abound this time of year.
The other night at dinner, a friend was talking about a local fundraiser that was asking for money, not any sort of physical donations, and she was a little apprehensive about that. After all, how do we know how much of those donations actually make it to those in need instead of going to administrative costs? On the other hand, larger organizations have a lot of buying power and can usually make arrangements with suppliers to get the most from those donations (not to mention donated goods may not fit all needs).
One way to feel a little better about giving money to a charity, if that’s your preferred method, is to check them out! Non-profits, in exchange for the benefits that status gets them, are required to make certain records public. You can request these records directly from the charity, or use IRS form 4506-A to request them. Of course, if you don’t want to wade through their tax forms, you can check out certain watchdog sites that will do the analysis for you. GiveWell and Charity Navigator are two companies that evaluate charities for their overall impact. There are undoubtedly more.
But what if money just isn’t what you have to give? A lot of people are on tight budgets and it’s easier to give time or something small. That’s why I want to share a couple of opportunities for giving that you may not know about but that can have a big impact.
I read and enjoyed MODG for quite a while, then the posts stopped showing up in my feed and her blog got lost in the shuffle of what shows up in my dash. Recently, though, I was reminded of her WANA program. WANA stands for We Are Not Assholes and is a way for readers to help readers. In it’s 4th year, you can find this year’s post here (http://modgblog.com/2015/12/02/5417/) and if you see a need that you can fill, you’ve just done something to make the end of the year a little brighter for another person. I know some requests were for simple things, like diapers; something you can add to your next shopping trip or maybe your baby just grew out of a size and you have a whole package just lying around.
It’s all about finding a need your are best suited to fill.
Another blog-prompted opportunity that truly is a small thing but can mean the world to the people on the other end is Operation Christmas Cheer, hosted by The Whatever Mom. On the facebook page for OCC there’s a pin post with names and addresses of kids who are seriously ill. All she asks is that you send them a card to make being sick over the holidays a little bit easier to bear. Right now there are 4 names and it’s easily one of the simplest outreaches that I can think of.
Spending the holidays in the hospital is no fun, both for the sick kid and for their family. I remember visiting myÂ baby sister (who passed shortly after her first and only Christmas) in the hospital this time of year, back when I was 5 years old. Cards wouldn’t have healed her, but they would have made us all smile a bit. So, yeah, this one is special to me and I was happy to find out about it in time to participate. You can also contact your local hospital to find out if there are any kids in their pediatric wards who could use some extra cheer if you want to do something a little close to home.
Spread the cheer and love this time of year, friends. And maybe make it a resolution for next year to keep it up for the other 11 months of the year, too?