Monday, November 26, 2007

Taking Time to Give Back During the Holidays

Christmas is fast approaching.

As we all know, the holidays are designated to giving that extends far beyond wrapped gifts under the tree. It’s a season where we *should* reach a hand out to help those who are less fortunate in an attempt to make their holidays a little brighter.

If you want to make that kind of contribution and brighten someone's day locally — it's not tough. One of the most obvious things out there are the Salvation Army bell ringers who have recently taken up their annual vigil in front of all major stores. When you come out of the store with bags full of gifts, make sure to drop your change or a few bills into the red kettle. If you want to go above and beyond, take a turn at ringing that bell yourself by calling your local Salvation Army or for those in southeast Michigan, visit the Salvation Army Eastern Michigan Web site. It's cold and tiring to stand out there, but for the (few) people that take the time to drop a few cents in and smile at the ringer, it's worth it.

If you are in Michigan and hate the cold, another great nonprofit organization that needs help around the holidays is United Way. Check out your local United Way Web site for volunteer events such as delivering gifts or food to the elderly or sorting children's toys for those in need. Click here for volunteer opportunities with UW of SE Mich. Many of the events only require a few hours of time.

Another thing to consider while out shopping is gifts that "give back." I am hoping to write a blog entry in the next few days about such items... But one gift that gives back that I've come across and am smitten with is by and is part of the “Path to Peace” collection of Rwandan baskets (see photo above). These have been created in partnership with four Rwandan widows’ organizations. They truly are beautiful pieces of hand-woven artwork that puts sustainable income into the hands of the weavers, helping to change their lives. Each design symbolizes its own thing, whether friendship, unity or peace.

Shop smart, think of others and remember what the holidays are truly about - giving back in some way.

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