Day after Christmas Donation

Word GIVE on Cardboard Letters with Twinkling Lights

Today, on the day after Christmas, making a commitment to volunteer your time or donating to a worthy cause is a fitting way to wrap up your holiday giving.

Nowadays, in the United States, the Christmas holiday season presents us with a dichotomy encompassing the spirit of giving, while promoting excessive spending and overindulging in food and drink.

We Americans fulfill the spirit of giving with gaily-wrapped packages, Christmas cookie swaps, Toys for Tots donations, family and friend get-togethers, and delicious Christmas dinners. Spending time with our family and friends is a gift regardless of whether any presents change hands or not.

On the flip side, signs of excessive spending include going into debt buying gifts, purchasing presents for people who told you they do not need or want anything (they might actually mean it), or buying everything on everyone’s wish lists.

You may have fallen victim to overindulging if you have been nibbling on Christmas candy and cookies nonstop since the beginning of December, embarrassed yourself at the office Christmas party after drinking too many glasses of wine, or ate so much at Christmas dinner you fell asleep on the couch afterward instead of helping with the dishes.

December is also the busiest time at work for many people who are racing to meet year-end sales goals, finishing client projects, or dealing with Christmas shoppers.

These days Christmas is a more low-key event at our house but as a person with a major sweet tooth, I still overindulge during the holidays. If there are sweets anywhere in the house, even secreted away, I know they are there. Yes, I can hear that box of See’s candy calling me from the laundry room where I have ineffectively hidden it.

You see, we all have our holiday season joys and challenges.

Day after Christmas Giving

Today, Monday, December 26, the day after Christmas, some people are trudging off to work, others are recovering from their Christmas festivities, and some people are kicking back and relaxing.

More than a few gift receivers are heading to stores and post offices intent on exchanging or returning gifts. Seasoned day-after-Christmas shoppers are snapping up Christmas decorations, wrapping materials, and tree trimmings at steeply discounted prices, while highly proactive people (or crazy people depending on your view) are beginning next year’s Christmas shopping.

No matter what your plans are for the day, donating or making a commitment to volunteer your time in service of others is a generous way of closing out the holiday season. It is good karma. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Community Parks, Schoolyards, and Gardens

In your neighborhood, there is likely to be at least one park, schoolyard, or community garden where you can lend a hand even if you do not have a green thumb.

Although shoveling snow off walking paths might be restricted to cold climes, tasks like picking up trash, weeding, and turning compost piles, are probably available during most of the year. If you do not want to get your hands dirty, lend your voice by telling friends and neighbors about the park, schoolyard, or garden, spreading the word on social media, or advocating at a school board or city council meeting.

Faith Congregations

Perhaps you would enjoy helping your congregation become more environmentally friendly.

Organized religion comprises the largest social networks on the planet with long traditions of conducting outreach programs, setting and achieving goals, and working in teams. These are all the necessary ingredients for successfully implementing green programs.

Interfaith Power & Light and GreenFaith are both national organizations that help people green their own congregations. To find a local group, type “faith-based environmental organizations” and the name of your city and state in your web browser search window.

Building Projects

For those of you who like building stuff with your hands, try installing solar panels for a nonprofit like GRID Alternatives or participating in building a home with Habitat for Humanity for someone who needs one.

If you are a tech savvy person, offering to build a website for a nonprofit or community group might be just the thing they need. Or, maybe the group could use some assistance setting up social media accounts, which will enable them to get the word out about their organization.

My Day after Christmas Giving

For my day after Christmas giving, I am donating money to One Cool Earth, the nonprofit that grew the two Big Sur Coast redwood tree seedlings I planted in my yard in honor of the Christmas tree in my living room.

Please share your day after Christmas volunteer or donation ideas and actions with other readers.

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A New Take on the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Let’s mix it up and change how we make New Year’s resolutions. I propose we each commit to one personal goal and a companion goal to benefit the greater good. Extra credit for green resolutions.

Calendar with January 1, 2014 Circled in RedTop 10 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

Each January we have an opportunity to start fresh, set new goals, or push the restart button on an uncompleted goal. New Year’s resolutions are typically related to self-improvement or development and involve promising ourselves we will stop or start doing something.

Statistic Brain compiled the following list of the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2014.1

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

I’ve also seen New Year’s resolutions to travel more, reduce stress, or get a new job.

3 Tips to Making Doable New Year’s Resolutions

We can achieve our New Year’s resolutions by keeping in mind that when the calendar flipped to January 1st, 2014 we were not magically imbued with special powers enabling us to accomplish grandiose goals with no effort on our part. Let’s choose goals we want to accomplish that suit who we are and fit within our daily lives. Below are three tips to making doable New Year’s resolutions.

  • Footsteps Leading to GoalOwn It: choose a resolution you actually want to accomplish and are willing to put some work into. Be honest with yourself. Don’t make a resolution just to please someone else.
  • Define It: make a resolution that is specific and measurable so you know what success looks like and can map out how to achieve it.
  • Make it Real: select a resolution that you can realistically accomplish.

For more help on goal setting, read New Year’s Resolution –  Make it SMARTER.

Reimagining 2014 New Year’s Resolutions

Using the top 10 list above, the three examples below illustrate how we can reimagine our 2014 New Year’s resolutions to include a personal goal and a companion goal for the greater good.

Get Organized

Personal Goal: “Clear out and organize my garage so I can park my car in it.”

Old Electronics Stored in Garage - Photo: Jo MangeeFor the Greater Good: when faced with a garage full of boxes, bags, and piles of stuff, it is tempting to simply rearrange things or toss them in the trash. But imagine the feeling of clearing out your garage and giving some of your unneeded and unused belongings a second life with people who do need and will use them. You can make this a reality by sorting, collecting, and giving away items you don’t use now and won’t use in the future (be honest).

Green Credit: giving an item a second, third, or longer life reduces it’s carbon footprint by making use of the resources and energy already expended to extract materials, manufacture, and transport it. Keeping stuff out of landfills reduces waste and eliminates pollution that would result from discarded items leaching toxins into the soil and water or emitting them into the air.

Stay Fit and Healthy

Personal Goal: “Increase my whole fruit and vegetable intake from 1 serving or less a day to at least 5.”

Whole Vegetables from Community Supported Agriculture ShareFor the Greater Good: since grocery markets stock many of the same fruits and vegetables all year we may not realize what is in season at any given time or where it came from. You can improve your health and support your community by buying some or all of your produce locally and in season, extra credit for organic. Imagine buying a head of lettuce from a local farmer that is so fresh it will last for 2 weeks or longer in your refrigerator.

Green Credit: buying local food reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the number of miles your food travels from the farm to your plate. Local food is picked within a day or two of when you buy it so it stays fresh longer which results in less food waste. Purchasing whole fruits and vegetables prevent extra energy and resources from being used for processing and packaging.

Help Others in Their Dreams

Personal Goal: “I will set aside $X dollars a month to help fuel the dreams of my child, niece, nephew, grandchild, or foster child, to go to college, learn a trade, or start a business someday.”

Small Investment - Tree Sprout Growing out of Pile of CoinsFor the Greater Good: crowdfunding and microfinance platforms make it possible for individuals to donate or loan small amounts of money to people, nonprofits, and small businesses across town or across the globe. Imagine contributing to the construction of a solar farm in a remote town with no electricity, a grocery market in a neighborhood with only fast food restaurants and liquor stores, or a community park on a vacant lot in an urban neighborhood. With a small additional amount, you can help make the dreams of a child and someone else come true. Find a cause that speaks to you and make a donation or loan.

Green Credit: invest in projects, organizations, or businesses focused on clean technology, green products, or sustainable food.

Imagine what we could collectively accomplish as individuals by putting a new spin on our New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

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  1. Statistic Brain – New Years Resolution Statistics