(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)
November 28 marks the beginning of the “holiday season.” For most, the upcoming weeks are a time of joy, happiness and family time, but for others, much different emotions and memories emerge. Whether due to financial hardships, illness or age, or military service far from home, the holidays can be a time of sadness, stress and loneliness.
There are countless opportunities through churches, clubs, local businesses and national organizations that make it possible to extend a kind gesture to those who may be facing the upcoming months alone or with little resources. We encourage you to consider how you might share some of the peace, love and joy of the season with those who are struggling this Christmas. Here are a few ideas:
It can be difficult for those who are ill or elderly to get the care they need, make it to a market to pick up a few things for the winter months or simply enjoy a visit from someone. It can be a lonely time for those who are affected by the colder months and have little to no family to spend the holidays with. Here are a few ways you can help out:
Deliver a hot meal with plenty of extras for leftovers.
Provide a healthy snack, like mixed nuts, fresh fruits or muffins.
Make up a sunshine basket with books, snacks and puzzles.
Sing carols or play a musical instrument.
Offer warm socks and blankets.
Put up a small Christmas tree and decorate for the holidays.
Assist in wrapping Christmas gifts.
For the past several years, LEAP Foundation DC has held its annual Toy Drive in December. In its early years, hundreds of families enjoyed gifts each year for the holidays. For the last two years, we have partnered with the Latino Student Fund to work directly with families who find themselves facing financial hardships that prevent them from fully enjoying the holidays. Seeing the happiness on the children’s faces each year has been a highlight and it has been a pleasure to spend an evening with these hard-working folks. You can help those facing financial difficulties create Christmas to remember. Here are a few children’s gift suggestions:
Books of various reading levels
Outdoor winter wear
Oral hygiene products
Small toys for young children
Serving in the military is the ultimate sacrifice. Not only are our veterans risking their lives for our country, they do so far from home for long periods at a time, often missing out on some of life’s biggest moments, such as birthdays, the birth of a child and holidays. Christmas can be an especially difficult time for families who are separated. Sending a care package can be a wonderful way to show appreciation at any time of year and especially during a time when a special surprise could mean so much. Consider sending out a few of the following items:
Personal hygiene items like toothbrushes, toothpaste and deodorant
Favorite foods that can only be found at home