This year spread some holiday cheer in your own community by donating to a local nonprofit, volunteering your time, or better yet both.
Two years ago, I wrote a post entitled Day after Christmas Donation in hopes of encouraging readers to join me in wrapping up our holiday seasons by making a charitable donation or committing to volunteer with a nonprofit or faith-based organization. For 2018, I decided to dust off the idea but change it to the day before Christmas.
In as little as five or ten minutes, you can make an online donation, write a check and put it in an envelope, or send an email with an offer to volunteer in the future.
I realize that December 24th could be an overly busy day for you. If so, I hope you will take 15 seconds to write a note on your calendar or enter a reminder in your smartphone for a day when you will have time between now and the end of the year.
There are many national and international nonprofit organizations worthy of your money and your time, but I propose that this year we give to a nonprofit in our own communities, towns, or counties.
Think Globally, Give Locally
On this day 50 years ago, the NASA Apollo 8 crew took the now iconic photo of Earth rising behind the moon shown at the top of this post. This image clearly shows that we live on a sphere with air, water, and the land connecting us to each other. What we do to the environment we do to ourselves and all the other living things on Earth. Our fate is interwoven.
By caring for our own tiny patch of the planet, we can contribute to the overall wellbeing of Earth. Local nonprofits act as sort of a multiplier helping us do this collectively.
Like a for-profit business, nonprofit organizations need both money and people to fulfill their missions. Everyone has something to give whether it is money, time, or both (a little or a lot).
Nonprofit organizations need volunteers to solicit donations, create websites, prepare grant applications, man booths, bake cookies, call people, write newsletters, post on social media, conduct research, attend public meetings, play music, plan events, wash dishes, pull weeds, track volunteer hours, paint signs, write letters to the editor, film activities, greet people at events, write press releases, take photographs, manage membership lists, track budgets, put up tables and chairs, hand out flyers, create marketing materials, serve food, stuff envelopes, write blog posts, answer phones, do presentations, round up speakers, act as docents, plant trees, build things, take out the trash, coordinate with other groups, prepare reports, run programs, do public relations, emcee events, fix equipment, shop for supplies, and write thank you notes.
Chances are there is a nonprofit in your community doing work you feel is important and that could use your help. My interests tend to lean towards organizations doing environmental-related work because my children, your children, and everyone else’s children need a habitable planet to live on now and in the future.
Here is what I am doing for my day before Christmas donation.
Volunteering – Fiscalini Ranch Preserve
The Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is a public open space on the edge of the Pacific Ocean adjacent to the small town my spouse and I moved to about eleven years ago. We enjoy walking on the bluff path almost daily. Yet in all the years we have lived here, I had never volunteered to help take care of this beautiful place until last May.
I thought I had signed up my spouse and me to volunteer at a wildflower show but we ended up at the Ranch pulling up three-foot long lengths of ice plant, which is considered an invasive plant here because it chokes out everything else. Removing invasive plants is good for the environment because it allows native plants a chance to thrive. Native plants play nice with others, use water wisely, and provide habit for local winged, scaly, and furry denizens.
That day it hit home that each one of us is responsible for caring for our community parks, open spaces, and gardens and that they need us.
We completed our third ice plant removal activity two weeks ago. Now I am on the “likes to remove ice plant” email list.
Donating – San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden
I am a fan of the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden in our county. Their mission “to honor and preserve our connection with nature” dovetails with my own mission to convince others and myself to live more lightly on Earth.
Besides having a wonderful display of the plant life of Mediterranean climate zones, the Garden grows and sells plants, hosts activities for kids, and provides fun and educational events for people of all ages. I have attended several events at the Garden, shopped for native plants at their plant sales, and been a regular visitor who enjoys wandering through this special place.
Today I am making a financial donation to help the Garden fulfill their mission.
Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas or not, today, I hope you will join me in donating money to a local nonprofit, committing to volunteering your time, or both. It all adds up.
Featured Image at Top: Earthrise – Photo Credit U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon, entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1968. That evening, astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their spacecraft.
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