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’Tis the Season to Give

Finding ways to practice kindness doesn’t have to be hard. Perhaps you’ll be inspired by one of these 12 great ideas and you can bring joy to others in your community this Christmas.

Rob Harmon
December 1, 2016

Christmastime in Tulsa is a wonderful time of year. Woodland Hills and Utica Square are decorated to the hilt. The lights of Rhema are blazing bright. Outside the home, Christmas wreathes cover beautifully decorated doors, and inside, the smell of freshly cut Christmas trees donned with ornaments aplenty.

It’s a special time for happiness and cheer, a truly fantastic season of giving and receiving.

Of course, it’s been said that it is better to give than to receive. But is that really true? It’s a question absolutely worthy of experimentation. During this holiday season, when we’re frantically busy buying things for all those we love, let’s try to remember that there’s always someone less fortunate than ourselves.

People are hungry and lonely, at this time of the year especially. In the areas of time, money, love and energy, there’s always more to give of ourselves than we may think at first. So many times, we find that when we give something, it comes back to us in greater measure. But we forget this truth.

Here are 12 ways we can test that age-old saying for ourselves on, before and after Christmas.

Give to the Angel Tree
For most of us, childhood memories of Christmas bring to mind sparkling presents under the tree, given to us by our parents. We mean, Santa. Sadly, many children, whose parents are separated from them due to incarceration, military service or other reasons, won’t have those same memories. The Angel Tree, established over 30 years ago, is the largest program of its kind. For less than $20, you can help provide a better holiday season for children.

Help the Elderly
Fix their faucet. Make them a meal. Clean their house. Or, just stop by to say “hello” and chat a spell. The older among us enjoy the extra attention. Many times, they can’t do all the things they used to do and an extra hand or two makes life a little easier. It certainly is appreciated. Our elders have done so much for us and the world we live in, so giving back to them this time of the year should be a no-brainer.

Adopt a Family
If you know a family that’s been hit hard by the economy or some other disaster, spend your extra cash taking care of some things for them. Bring them groceries. Slip a gift card in their mail. Buy some Christmas gifts
for their children, or maybe the adults. Take them out to eat, your treat. Rake the leaves in their front yard. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will be totally worth it in the grand scheme of things.

Give at a Food Bank
The Welcome Table Garden Park and Orchard in Turley is a wonderful project that serves far north Tulsa. Reverend Ron Robinson, the project’s leader, is always looking for willing hands to help stock the food pantry or weed eat the grounds surrounding the share beds (the public garden beds that supply vegetables for those who need them). To volunteer your time, money or expertise, visit their Facebook page and reach out to them.

Volunteer at a Shelter
Tulsa has built a solid reputation for taking care of its homeless. The John 3:16 Mission is part of the reason why. It’s a nonprofit service that provides food, shelter and recovery programs for people fighting poverty, homelessness, joblessness and substance abuse problems. Free meals, an overnight shelter and a New Life program are services they provide, to name a few. Volunteers at John 3:16 are needed and welcome throughout the year, but especially during holiday months.

Every year in October, November and December, the goal of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect as many new, unwrapped toys as possible and get those toys to less fortunate children on Christmas. Each post where you donate will distribute them in the community where the campaign is conducted. Although it might not feel as personal — such as not handing the toys directly to the children yourself — it still makes a huge difference.

Be a Listener
Take the time to listen. Most of us, when someone else is talking, aren’t actually listening. We’re thinking about what we’re going to say. Shutting off our inner voice and listening to the person allows us to understand the person better. Making a greater effort to listen will improve our relationships. Everyone likes to know they’re being heard. Listening breeds happiness, and happiness is what we all need this time of the year.

Visit and Sing at a Nursing Home
Singing carols at nursing homes is good for the soul. Older folks who don’t have the connection to society they once did are always grateful for visitors, especially singing ones. Gather friends and family. Take church pals or coworkers. Just an hour at the closest nursing home will pay dividends in the heart-warming department. “Joy to the World,” “O, Come All Ye Faithful” and other carols are perfect for singing a cappella. Use your smartphone to and a good starting note and bring lyric sheets.

Buy a Stranger Dinner
If you’re at a restaurant this holiday season, spot a couple or family sitting near you and let the wait staff know that you’d like to pay for their meal and remain anonymous. Watch what happens when they discover their entire meal is taken care of. If you leave before they do, at least you’ll know that you’ve completely made someone’s day. Imagine if every one of us who could did that this time of the year.

Be Kind to Someone You Dislike
Maybe it’s a co-worker or next-door neighbor, and something they’ve done or said has rubbed you the wrong way. It’s started having a negative effect on you physically, emotionally or spiritually. One way you can give this holiday season is to do something nice for that person. Who knows, it could alter the way you see them. It may change the way they treat you. Either way, at least you could say you gave peace a chance.

Donate Blood
You can make a difference and save a life this holiday season. If you want to help others, this is possibly the most important thing you could do. Maybe you’ve already given this year. That’s OK; you can give again. Donors can give full blood every eight weeks (56 days). Bring someone who’s never given. That’s a way to give twice as much.

Help Tulsa's Four-Legged Friends
Tulsa Animal Welfare Shelter on Apache and Erie would not be able to rescue over 11,000 homeless cats, dogs and other varieties of animals every year if it weren’t for volunteers. Direct care of the animals, administrative duties, educational projects and awareness outreach campaigns can only happen when caring volunteers o er their time, money and heart.