Have you ever needed a helping hand? Or wished you could ask for a favor? What about during the holiday season? I would guess most people have, because everyone needs a little help at some point in their life, especially during the holidays. With Thanksgiving coming up, I think it is extra important to help others.
While everyone needs help occasionally, it is also just as important to help others when we can. Helping other people should be a basic principle in life, which begins by volunteering for a cause greater than yourself.
During Thanksgiving break, you could ask members of your neighborhood to collect non-perishable food items to donate to your local food pantry. Make it a fun experience or a competition –– whoever can collect the most cans wins! Bringing engagement into donating or volunteering always encourages people to participate. In prioritizing another person, we are able to foster purposeful connections with other people within our community.
Research has shown supporting and helping others corresponds with a sense of meaningfulness. For example, imagine the feeling of helping a family during Thanksgiving. It feels good, right? Giving back to people during holiday breaks can help not only the recipients, but also the givers. Helping others strengthens your personal mindset while also enhancing your self-esteem.
Volunteering for a good cause can also help people learn skills that they use in everyday life. This past week, I spent time volunteering and raising awareness with my sorority for the Kindly Hearts Initiative. The initiative helps support children and teens going through homelessness or foster care.
This experience taught me about effective teamwork, communication and commitment. I had to work together with other volunteers to make the volunteering mission flow smoothly. It was particularly important for everyone to communicate together, so we were not wasting valuable time. All these characteristics will follow me to help me in my everyday tasks as well. After spending time last week volunteering, I am excited to see what I can challenge myself to help with within my local community back home.
Being college students, it’s easy to get so caught up in our careers and extracurriculars we forget to give back to others who truly need it. But there are ways to help without spending a ton of time. You can walk a neighbor's dog, cook someone a meal or volunteer at your local shelter. If you want to offer help while in Bloomington, there are many options for you to offer your service.
For example, local antipoverty nonprofit Beacon Inc. hosts volunteer events regularly, where people can either be kitchen volunteers or hospitality volunteers. Kitchen volunteers help meal prep, serve meals and clean up. Hospitality volunteers distribute supplies, sort and manage mail and take phone calls. Also, you can volunteer for places like Habitat for Humanity to help with a specific build or an event. Middle Way House is a shelter for women and their children suffering from domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking. This is another local foundation that encourages volunteering, starting at four hours a week.
All of these are small ways you can make an impact on someone’s day. These acts of kindness can all contribute to a connection between all human beings to bring us closer together. When we work together to create a sense of belonging, we are able to empathize with others and build a better community together.
This holiday season, I urge you to give helping people a chance. Bring leftover Thanksgiving food to a local nursing home or shelter. Bring family and friends into the fold, and start a fun, new tradition. It’s called the season of giving for a reason. Work like this can help increase feelings of belonging and community. And who knows: it could bring out a passion you might not have even known you have for helping others.
Molly Collier (she/her) is a junior studying sports media.