The Startling Reason Why We Don’t Volunteer During the Holidays
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With the holidays coming up, I know a few things for sure: I’d rather stab myself in the eyeball than go to the mall; I’m gonna need some super stretchy-pants a la Joey Tribbiani in the upcoming weeks; and my kids will come home for several straight weeks demanding to raid the pantry for food donation items.
I let them get the food and donate it, of course. But I will undoubtedly get super irritated by the time the holidays are over.
Wanna know why?
Hold up a sec while I get my soapbox pulled out…
So, my mom used to work as the Director of a Food Bank in Texas for years and years. In her years of service there, I came to understand a few things about organizations that served the underprivileged.
First is that there are some really generous people in this world despite what the evening news tells you.
Second is that there are many, MANY businesses that like to promote giving during the holidays.
But most importantly--people just sort of…’forget’ that these people that need food don’t just need it at the holidays.
They need it year-round!!
I’ve had several conversations with my 8-year old about giving food and clothes to those that are in need, and I cannot tell you how proud she made me with the large squishy softness of her heart. But you know what? Never YET (except for the prompting from the schools) has she come to me during the holidays about this of her own volition. Something in the intuition and heart of an 8-year-old also knows that people in need aren’t only in need during November and December. So why in the heck do people–adults– only acknowledge it at those times of year??!
When I asked my mom to clarify this from the perspective of a Food Bank Director, she said that there are a couple of factors for this.
She said that: 1) People want to make sure that those in need have the food to have nice holidays as well because so many holidays revolve around food and bringing family together for meals. Ok, I get it, sure.
2) The holidays invoke the ‘giving’ spirit, which is a really good time to bring attention and focus to the issue.
And 3) There are, of course, tax breaks that peeps that need to reduce their taxable income will take advantage of.
She went on to confirm that there are huge amounts of food that come in during those times, but that they do come close to shortages during the rest of the year. This was so startling to me. And made me that much prouder of my little munchkin thinking of others throughout the year.
What I did was contacted one of our pastors to see when the next organized breakfast was that the church does for the homeless in our area. Again, though–I was surprised. To my knowledge, they only had 2 scheduled for the YEAR! And one was in November, right around Thanksgiving. (I hate to say that I’m disappointed, but… I really am right now.)
So I asked my mom what the best options would be for helping my kiddos to get involved throughout the year. She said to find the closest local food bank, and ask them for a list of organizations that get food from them. She explained that the Food Bank acts sort of like the ‘middle man’ in this whole operation. The organizations in the community will come get the food from the Food Bank, and then package it how they see fit, then disperse it to families in need.
Ok, I could see that. She said that the organizations usually take volunteers to help package items, and to just give them a call and ask how we could help.
But when I looked up our county’s Food Bank online to get the phone number–all the information I needed was already RIGHT THERE! Volunteer opportunities (and it listed straight off that kids 7 and up can help as long as their adult is with them!); Ongoing programs; Calendar of Events; Summer programs for kids when school food/assistance isn’t available; and–get this–they also coordinate a backpack program where kids in need can discreetly take home 7 meals for the weekend on Fridays!
I HIGHLY encourage you to look up your local Food Bank and get involved–especially during
the non-holiday times of year!
Another great resource for finding Volunteer opportunities is VolunteerMatch. You can search in your area for organizations that can use help!
If nothing else, I always want to encourage my kids to help others when they can.
Wanna snag the FREE Annual Donations + Volunteering Planner to help you plan out opportunities to serve throughout the year?
Do you donate or volunteer? If so, what ways–and do your kids participate, too?
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