10 things you can do for others this holiday season

We might all need a little help this year

This year has been tough for many of us. Probably also for you reading this. Between Covid-19, cancelled plans, working from home, balancing childcare, dealing with devastating news and struggling with disconnection, we probably all desperately need a break. But some of us might have had an even harder time than that. So keep in mind that brightening anyone’s day a little goes a long way this year. More ideas on that later.  But let’s first focus on the core of the holiday spirit: supporting those that have been hit especially hard this year.

We are including some examples of initiatives here. If you need help finding initiatives near you, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to help you find them 🙂 

And if you know any great organizations near you, submit them in our form!

1. Bring or send a gift to a local elderly home

Covid-19 meant not only increased health risk, but also increased loneliness for elderly people around the world. Many will not be able to see their families, and have not seen them for some time. What can you do? Many elderly care homes accept gifts, presents and cards for their inhabitants around christmas this year. You can either bring them personally, or send them by mail – but please always keep in mind the current health and safety regulations. 

Bonus: if you have kids, let them draw or make a present, and use it as a learning opportunity. Here is an example activity from France!

 More organizations: 

Paris en compagnie in Paris, France

Alloheim (Germany) are accepting presents at their locations across the country.

Home Instead in the UK brings presents to elderly people that might not get any otherwise.

2. Support a local homeless shelter or aid organization

For people without a fixed home, the holidays often don’t feel like a special time, and might actually be quite lonely. This year, the streets have been empty for a while as well, which can lead to increased loneliness – and loss of income. Volunteering in homeless shelters or soup kitchens is a holiday tradition for many families. But keep in mind that things might be different this year. As organizations are working to limit personal contact, volunteer numbers might be reduced, and recruiting new people might be on halt in some places. 

If personal volunteering is not an option, making a (physical or monetary) donation could be a good alternative. For physical goods – always check first with the organization what is needed right now.

Entourage in France lets you send a Christmas card to a homeless person. 

Thrive International has a great homeless initiative within the city of Munich, Germany.

3. …or just be nice to a person living in the street

For many people living in the street, being treated and respected as a decent human being already goes a long way. The rush for last-minute presents, combined with the added 2020 discomfort of being in a crowd, often lets us act hasty, rushed and grumpy. We hurry by, and our masks hide our smiles – if they were there in the first place. Especially this year, just keep in mind that a bit of recognition, a warm smile or a little small talk can go a long way in brightening someone’s day.

Some inspiration: This barber is giving free haircuts to homeless people, and talks about acts of kindness in the process.

 

4. Help healthcare workers by reducing risk

Hands down, our healthcare workers might have the hardest year of all. Constantly supporting others while risking their own lives in grueling hours is the ultimate sacrifice to deal with this crisis. Many people might be wondering how to best give thanks to them at the end of the year. According to many messages shared across countries, the message of our healthcare workers is clear: you can best support them by doing your part in limiting the spread. So stay home, keep a distance, and know that you are already helpful that way!

 

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A post shared by Josh Gad (@joshgad)

 

5. Reach out to someone who spends the end of the year alone

Not everyone can spend this holiday season with loved ones or friends. In fact, more people than ever might need to go it alone. After an already challenging year, this can be extra hard. So if you know someone that will be on their own, just reach out. A sweet message or (even better as more personal!) a phone or video call can help to reduce loneliness and bring a bit of connection.

6. Volunteer for a mental health hotline

If you want to do more for the increasing number of people with mental health problems this year, you could consider to sign up for a mental health hotline. Organizations like Turn2Me ( Ireland) or Samaritans (UK/ Ireland) are regularly looking for volunteer support. 

7. Surprise your neighbors with a treat

Why not just leave a sweet treat or a little surprise at your neighbor’s door? Little surprises are possible even in socially distant times. And who knows – it might start a conversation and closer connection. Just keep it safe!

Christmas stocking with little present

8. Give someone a smile or a little bit of your time

A (masked) smile, some small talk or a little help can already change someone’s day. So hold open those doors, give a hand when it is needed, or just say something nice on the way. 

We often strive for big gestures, but the small things count just the same. Remember that you can always light up someone’s day by just saying something nice, holding the door or helping out when you see a need. It does not have to be big to count.

9. Ask someone for help

This might sound counterintuitive, but helping others is actually extremely good for our wellbeing and self-esteem. So by asking for help, you might actually make someone’s day – as long as it is a nice and reasonable request, and leaves the option to decline. As much as we are often keen to help others, we hesitate to make the request. Next time, just think about the fact that the other person might be flattered, honored – and feel good about helping you out.

10. Make plans to support others throughout the year

For many people, the holiday season is a time to reflect and give back, which is a great thing. But it also makes support for those in need extremely seasonal. So why not use the holiday break to think about more regular volunteering efforts for the next year? 

Tiramisu will make it easier for you to find those opportunities – and to ask for support yourself. We’ll be ready for you next year.

Until then, embrace the opportunities that are already around you, take a well-deserved break, and get well into the new year! 

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