During the holiday months, it is our culture’s habit to bring the focus on ourselves. There are so many opportunities to give, volunteer, and invest into others lives, yet it is so easy to look past them. I have compiled seven different general ways that we can meet the needs of others through local organizations this holiday season. I would love to get feedback on if you follow through with any of these ideas and how it panned out for you.

Choose to serve others in our community by meeting their basic needs: food, clothing, and shelter. This not only helps the recipients, it can also create a foundation for your kids to begin thinking about others and their needs. This can practically look like a few different things: You can donate blankets, coats, boots, hats and gloves, etc to places such as: Fathers and Families, Outreach Inc, Shepherd Community Center, or Wheeler Mission Ministries. Volunteer at food banks/ food kitchens including: Cathedral Kitchen and Food Pantry, Second Helpings, Indy First Free Methodist Church, or St. Vincent DePaul Food pantry. And volunteer with homeless at: Outreach Inc, Dayspring Center Inc, and Shepherd Community Center.

One Warm Coat – This is the coat drive we (Compass) took part in last winter and are excited to participate again for a second year. We will be accepting gently used coats for all ages and sizes and will additionally reward you with a free 30 minute massage! The coat drive will run from November 1st to November 30!

Many elderly in nursing homes are lonely, exhausted, and missing time with family. During the holiday seasons, sadness and depression are exacerbated as many are unable to spend that quality time with their family and friends. You can bring love and warmth to seniors in our community by just carving a bit of your time to spend with them. You could pass out flowers with your children, help your kids make crafts to give away, play Bingo or other games, or simply sit and talk with them.

Pets live in warm loving homes, but animals at shelters need love too. Especially during cold seasons, animal shelters need assistance with keeping animals safe from the elements. Families could bring in supplies to animal shelters, spend time with lonely animals, or even foster an animal or two. A few local animal shelters include the Humane Society of Indianapolis, Cat’s Haven Ltd, Lucky Dog Retreat Inc.

Ask others how they are doing. Whether its the person sitting next to you at the bus stop or the person the next cubicle over, it’s so easy to engage in conversation. Everyone loves talking about themselves and what a great time to get to know someone new. A few simple starter questions include: Do you have any Christmas Traditions?  Who will you be spending the holidays with this year? If you could receive anything for Christmas this year, what would it be? If you could give someone anything for Christmas, what would you give?

Snow Removal! If our winter will be close to as intense as our summer was, we will have some cold and wet days this winter! Shoveling snow off a driveway or sidewalk for neighbors is a very practical way for kids to help out during the winter. Depending on their ages, you might even be able to let them go on their own while you prepare some warm treats back at home.

Sharing and giving are two great skills that should be taught to the next generation, but are hard lessons to attain… especially to the point that you are doing it joyfully! Regular evaluation of your possessions can reveal an overabundance of unused things that could be a great gift for others. Whether it is giving away unused clothing, toys, or household items, what a clear way to show your concern for those around you. Places to consider: Toys for Tots, Wheeler Mission Ministries, John P Craine House, and Partners in Housing.