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.

Related Posts

Life after Cancer – Volunteering

Empowerment - Woman with Outstretched Arms Standing on Mountaintop with Clouds at Sunset

Hearing the words “You have invasive breast cancer.” changed my life forever. I remember little from that first conversation except asking my doctor, “Am I going to die?”

Dealing with cancer or a devastating loss—like losing a loved one or suddenly finding yourself out of job—is traumatic; it derails your life. You are no longer in control. The illness or loss takes precedence and everything else fades into the background. However, at some point you must get your life back on track.

Volunteering helped me take back my life. It made me feel empowered and gave me the impetus I needed to take up my post-cancer life. Today, I am grateful to be alive and able to share my story with you in hopes that it may help you if you are struggling to take back your life after suffering a terrible illness or personal loss.

Losing Control of My Life

As a person used to managing my own schedule and making my own decisions, I was shocked at how quickly I completely lost control over my life.

Medical receptionists were in charge of my daily schedule. They told me when and where to show up for doctor visits, diagnostic procedures, infusions (chemotherapy), surgery, and radiation treatments. Trying to make plans around medical appointments was futile because I never knew how I would be feeling tomorrow, let alone next week.

My own body had seemingly turned against me by getting cancer in the first place. Now it was determining which side effects I would have, what I could or could not eat, and how far I could walk on any given day. My routine of walking an hour a day did not last long as chemotherapy sapped my energy. Walking for 5 or 10 minutes or taking a shower became a major accomplishment.

Being a cancer patient affected my state of mind. I felt like I was on a runaway train going to an unknown destination with danger lurking around every bend. Fear, self-pity, and anger were my constant companions. My world shrank. Making it through the day became my mission. I could not believe this was my life. Unfortunately, it was.

After a horrific yearlong journey, I was cancer free. Rejoicing to be alive, I thought, “Now I can get back to my life!” The hard part was figuring out how to get started.

Taking Back My Life through Volunteering

My work, this website and blog, beckoned, but I was feeling overwhelmed by the thought of trying to pick up where I had left off. I thrashed about trying to get my footing. Then, on a February evening during a meeting in my living room, a solution presented itself.

The meeting was for Ecologistics, an environmental and social justice not-for-profit organization. Ecologistics brings people together to learn, share ideas, and take action to ensure that life on Earth can continue for people and all other living creatures.

I saw a chance to deploy my business and project management skills in service of this organization and volunteered to fulfill two Board of Director positions: Secretary and Treasurer.

Soon I was knee deep in preparing meeting minutes, analyzing financial documents, and learning QuickBooks. I took on banking, writing the e-newsletter, and managing the development of our new website. Instead of worrying about things like, “When will my hair grow back?” or, “I wonder if I will be able to hike up a mountain again?” I found myself thinking about how to streamline and tighten up our financial processes or tracking web site development tasks to make sure we could make our go-live date.

Volunteering is Empowering

My efforts directly contributed to timely and accurate meeting minutes, smooth-running financial processes, a $1,000 grant award, an updated e-newsletter format, and a new website. Though I did not do this all by myself, Ecologistics has benefited from my work.

I received an unexpected benefit myself. By using my skills and experience in service of an organization aligned with my beliefs, volunteering gave me a feeling of empowerment.

After spending several months with the pedal to the metal working for Ecologistics, I slowly realized that I was already well on the way to taking back my life and adapting to life after cancer. I am ready to push the restart button on Green Groundswell and continue my mission of convincing other unlikely environmentalists like me to live more gently on the Earth and keep it habitable for all.

Volunteering Can Help You Too

For those of you struggling to get your life back on track, consider volunteering. There are thousands of not-for-profit organizations and community groups doing good things. They need your passion, talents, and knowledge.

Everyone has something to offer. Can you bake delicious chocolate chip cookies? Drop off a batch for a group of activists spending all day Saturday in a planning meeting. Are you a whiz at Excel spreadsheets? Help an organization create and track a budget for the first time. Do you enjoy meeting and talking to new people? Sign up to staff a booth or table at an event. Are you good at speaking in front of a large group of people? Offer to emcee an event or give a presentation for a group you admire. Do you have a green thumb? Volunteer at a community garden.

Pick a cause you care about and volunteer to do something. Through helping others you can help yourself, too.

Inspire other people by sharing your own volunteering empowerment story.