It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Between buying gifts, decorating and eating copious amounts of food, we develop traditions over the years both at home and at the office. And while the message of the season is to give, our rituals have a unique way of isolating ourselves to the outside world. Beyond family and friends, we can often neglect those less fortunate.
Helping others outside your inner circle can improve your community, lead to personal growth, be an opportunity to make new friends and even increase employee engagement and happiness. As a result, I’m highlighting three different ways that your organization can give back this holiday season. Together, we can truly make this the most wonderful time of the year!
Volunteer in Your Community
Your community gives to you during the holiday season, so isn’t it time you gave to your community? Christmas parades, craft fairs and perhaps even a ceremonial tree lighting; the folks in your community go to a lot of effort to make the yuletide special for you and yours. This year, return the favour; there’s no shortage of ways to get involved!
A beautiful Christmas tree is the focal point of the holidays, but sadly, many will go without one this year. You can help change that by partnering with a local tree farm or nursery and delivering firs to families who can’t afford their own. Another idea might be delivering cards and stuffed animals to children in the hospital or reading to children at a local school or library. You can even exercise your environmental responsibility to your community by collectively cleaning up a local park, river, pond or lake. Not only will your community benefit by these kind acts, but your organizational standing within the community will be elevated as well.
Help the Homeless
Imagine if the holiday season meant shivering in the bitter cold instead of sitting fireside, sipping eggnog. Imagine If it meant going to sleep hungry instead of dining on lavish turkey dinners and Christmas pudding. And just imagine if happiness at Christmas simply meant surviving the night instead of new toys, candy canes and carols. Like so many other areas of the world, homelessness is a large issue in British Columbia. For the homeless, Christmas is often anything but joyous. And while we can’t solve the problem overnight, we do have the ability to make the season a little brighter for them.
A full stomach can make a world of difference. Your organization can give back and help the homeless by volunteering at a soup kitchen or organizing a food drive whereby you collect and donate non-perishable foods to a local food bank. As winter roars on, temperatures continue to drop and that can be very dangerous for the homeless. Similar to a food drive, you can organize a winter clothes drive, to help people stay warm in the winter cold. Collect and donate jackets, hats, gloves, scarves and blankets. As shelters typically get busier in the winter months, you can even volunteer as a group to help sort and organize donations that come in. Another idea might be preparing and donating ‘care kits’ that include toiletries like shampoo, toothpaste, combs and razors to a local shelter. Sometimes you can forget that children fall victim to homelessness too, as a result of family situations. They could certainly use some hope at this time, so keep in mind that toys and art supplies make for great donations as well.
Donate to a Non-Profit or Charity
Making a donation to a non-profit or charity on behalf of your organization can be special for a couple of reasons. First, you can get your employees involved to help decide which organization they’d like to donate to. Employee involvement in the donation process can actually improve morale and happiness in the workplace. According to Entrepreneur, a recent employee survey reported that 37% felt more connected to their company culture when given the opportunity to participate in charitable events; 57% said they believed charitable events made for happier teams. Second, your donation has the power to make a direct impact on many people’s lives. It might even motivate other companies to do something similar and help even more.
There’s no shortage of deserving causes that do great work out there. International Justice Mission Canada (IJM Canada) helps rescue the millions of people trapped in slavery worldwide. Your donation can help put an end to the abuse and violence that so many experience, providing freedom and an opportunity to excel. The IJM Canada Gift Catalogue allows you to easily select a gift, such as building a thatched home or funding a rescue operation to free people from slavery. You can send a beautiful e-card that can be printed off and proudly displayed in your office. Every time you and your staff walk by, you’ll be reminded of the difference your gift is making.
Holiday traditions are one of the best parts of the season. Consider starting a new tradition by practicing corporate giving this year. Through volunteering in your community, helping the homeless or giving to a non-profit or charity, you can make a difference in the lives of others. The old adage that it’s better to give than to receive will never ring truer with the gift of hope, and that Christmas spirit will stay with you and your employees well into the new year. The holidays can be stressful and have a way of narrowing your focus, but don’t forget to help others less fortunate see the light at the end of the tunnel.