23 December 2009

think less, do more: a better way to give

Charlie Brown was right when he said that Christmas had become too commercial. From senseless stocking stuffers to screams of "Gimme! Gimme!", the sense of sharing, thanks, and fellowship that should be associated with the holiday season has long since been replaced by Tickle-Me-Elmo's and Twillight action figures. If you're as exhausted as I am by the needless waste of these many toys, here are a few wonderful ways to help make the world we share a better place this season:

  • Volunteer: Volunteering is the single easiest, more selfless thing you can do to help your fellow (wo)man. Whether it's an hour a week at your local soup kitchen or making a serious commitment to spend months or even years giving back, working with and for humanity improves the lives of strangers, strengthens communities, and betters the quality of the world we share. You can find a slew of opportunities at websites like Idealist and VolunteerMatch.

  • Give: Donating helps in immeasurable ways, as many helpful organizations struggle to make ends meet. Strapped for cash this season? Give what you can! Whether it's canned goods, old clothes, or even blood, you'll be surprised at how far little things can go. Check out NYC WasteLe$$ for more giving options.

  • Care: People, places, and creatures are in need at all times of year. Adopt a rainforest. Or an octopus. Or, if you truly have the time, energy, and means, a creature from your local Humane Society. Remember that no matter what it is, adoption is a commitment to care - yes, adopting a well might require slightly less devotion than a puppy, but the premise is still the same: you are giving some of yourself to make better something else. And that, truly, is the best thing you could ever do.
Check out Changing the Present for a wide range of other amazing alternative gift ideas.

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