‘Tis the season to be grateful. There are lots of things to be thankful for; however, we can often get busy (especially during this time of the year) and become consumed with all that we have to get done before the end of the year.
Here are ten ways to help re-direct your team (and even yourself) to think about others during the holidays and get the focus off of everything you have to do. These activities will not only help your team to grow closer, but also steer the focus to others.
1. Gather shoes for children.
In our community, there is a local shoe closet that collects and distributes shoes for children who need them. We are not a large community, but you’d be surprised how many children have worn out and inappropriate shoes for school. Check to see if there is a shoe closet in your area and what sizes they need. Or, have your own shoe drive and work with your local school district to find out what would be helpful.
2. Collect donations for Christmas dinner boxes.
The college where I work gathered items to give out 100 Thanksgiving dinner sacks that our students could come by and pick up the week before Thanksgiving. The same idea could be used for Christmas. Get your teams together to donate items to make Christmas Dinner sacks or boxes for local families. Work with charities in your area to get the word out. Set a goal and see how many you can collect!
3. Begin a canned food drive.
Every community has a food bank and most of them need donations, especially around the holidays. Have your team start a canned food drive to help your local food bank stock up for the holidays (or re-stock after them.)
4. Donate coats and warm clothes.
Our local community has a couple of coat closets that gather coats to give to those in need during the winter months. (Yes, even in Texas it can get pretty chilly!) Determine how many coats you want to gather (make it a challenge for your team) and deliver the coats together. Take a tour of the coat closet and see what other things they might need or other ways you can volunteer.
5. Serve the homeless.
If you don’t want to collect anything to donate, have one of your teammates organize a day to go feed the homeless at a local shelter. Just about every community has one, and it definitely puts things in perspective. Seeing men, women, and even families with no place to go makes one grateful for all the blessings we truly have.
6. Volunteer at a local non-profit.
As a team, decide on a non-profit you would like to go help. Schedule a Saturday morning and go serve them together. Every non-profit loves volunteers and certainly needs help during this time of year. Want to up the challenge? Make it a goal to serve together once a month or once a quarter as a group. See how your team and teammates grow during the process!
7. Support an Angel.
Every year, the Salvation Army has a program called Angel Tree, where people can get a name from one of the Angel Trees set up in the community and buy a small box of new clothes or toys for needy children. Volunteer to be one of the hosts of a tree or get together with your team and determine a number of families you want to help over the holidays.
8. Participate in a Rice and Bean supper.
Do some searching to see if there is a rice and bean supper in your area during the holidays. The purpose of these is to:
- Raise money for local charities.
- Raise awareness for poverty.
It’s eye opening when you see how little people live on both in our country and across the globe. The statistics are alarming. Most of the world lives on less than $2-3/day. Yet, we often complain about how little we have. Take your team to one of these dinners and do some debriefing afterwards and talk about thankfulness, giving, and how your organization can help make a difference in your community.
9. Sign up for a poverty workshop.
Our community has hosted several poverty workshops. There are a few organizations who run these and their presentations and information is very eye-opening. The good ones not only talk about poverty but also ways that people in the community can begin to help turn things around.
Work with a local school district or church to schedule a time to bring someone in to lead one of these trainings. (We’ve worked with Donna Beegle before and participated in her poverty institute.)
10. _(Insert your idea here.)_
The last idea is to brainstorm with your team and come up with your own idea. How can you help your community? What ideas do your team members have? What needs does your community have? How can you work together as a team to help those around you?
Some other ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Help cultivate a community garden.
- Clean up with your city’s parks and recreation department.
- Build a house with Habitat for Humanity.
- Volunteer for disaster relief with Red Cross.
- Tutor kids with an after school program.
- Mentor students at a local community college.
What idea did your team decide to move forward with? How did it go? Let me know in the comments below!