Peace of Mind for the Holidays

Volunteer this holiday season -- spread the cheer!

Volunteer this holiday season -- spread the cheer!

Do you want to feel good about yourself this holiday season? One way to eliminate some stress over the upcoming holidays is to help others, especially the elderly. The AARP recently announced some startling statistics that may motivate you:

  • 9.9 million seniors age 55 and older lived in poverty before the economic crisis (SOURCE: AARP Public Policy Institute).
  • 52 percent of older Americans had difficulty paying for essential items such as food, gas, and medicine the past year (SOURCE: January 2009 AARP Survey — A Year-End Look at the Economic Slowdown’s Impact on Middle-Aged and Older Americans).
  • 57 percent of seniors expect to delay their retirement and work longer due to retirement losses (SOURCE: January 2009 AARP Survey — A Year-End Look at the Economic Slowdown’s Impact on Middle-Aged and Older Americans).

If you are not elderly, one day you will be — if you live long enough. Think of providing a gift to a senior as karma, as in “what goes around comes around.” While a small gift of food might help, you also can stay aloof and let others handle the process. AARP, for instance, offers one way to give through their annual fund drive. This gift is tax deductible. You also can use Charity Navigator to find a charity that suits your idea of what giving means to you.

If you don’t have two pennies to rub together yourself, you can work a soup kitchen or offer to deliver meals over the holidays. At least you may get a chance to eat a meal, as volunteers often get fed. Consider volunteering at a local homeless shelter, nursing home, hospice or hospital. Some groups you can check with to learn more about local volunteerism include:

  • Holiday Project: The Mission of The Holiday Project is to enrich the experience of the holidays by arranging visits to people confined to nursing homes, hospitals and other institutions. Use this site to learn more about projects in your area.
  • VolunteerMatch: VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect, as this is a recruiting tool for nonprofit organizations. Enter your zip code and skills into the site and they can help you get matched up with a need for volunteers in your region.
  • Since its inception, has enabled millions of youth volunteers to connect with local nonprofits to make a difference in communities throughout America. But, you don’t need to be a spring chicken to help out with this organization. They will welcome people of all ages and abilities.

Volunteer this holiday season to help others and to help yourself. When you’re occupied with helping someone else, your troubles may diminish. Additionally, you may learn more about your neighborhood. Who knows? You may even find a new calling (or a new job) as a caregiver by offering your help. If nothing else, you could feel better (as in less stressed) and you will meet new people who can help you spread a that holiday cheer just a bit further.

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