Our civic duty for the holidays
Julian Omidi discusses the variety of ways we can all give back to our communities this season. Go the traditional route and work with a big-name, national charity or create your own one-person effort to assist a needy family or individual in the neighborhood where you live.
So many people show up to volunteer with local charities during the Christmas season that local food banks, church outreach programs and shelters are sometimes overwhelmed. Sadly, the other 11 months of the year are not the same, as churches, community centers and outreach programs go understaffed and typically suffer from a lack of goods.
Fortunately, you will be surprised by how many ways there are to do your civic duty. You need not be rich or have a lot of free time. Visiting a homeless shelter, for example, takes just a few minutes. While there, you can donate food or clothing. Most organizations will provide you with a receipt on the spot.
Two smart ways to help your community
Salvation Army’s Angel Tree is another convenient way to give. Choose a card from the tree and you’ll be matched with a specific gift request. It’s as easy as that. Plus, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your donation goes directly to someone who requested it.
If you want to make sure no one goes without a coat this winter, check out One Warm Coat, a national network that will put you in touch with a local coat drive. This type of giving is what many people search for because it is both local and direct. One Warm Coat specializes in fulfilling a basic human need.
Back to basics for seasonal giving
Another tried-and-true method is visiting your local church or synagogue and asking what their needs are. You will be welcomed with open arms during the holiday season and any other time of year. Pastors and rabbis will often connect you with a nearby family that is in desperate need of assistance. You will get the satisfaction of knowing your donations of food or money go directly to a family in crisis, and the recipients will be able to tell you exactly what they need. This is one of the oldest forms of charitable giving.
A recent example of creative giving involved a Missouri woman who opened Selfless Blessings, a store that offers all sorts of basic goods and supplies. This is just one example of individuals who create their own ways to fulfill an urge for civic duty.
My brother Dr. Michael Omidi and I are the co-founders of Civic Duty. Together, we support and publicize individuals and corporations that pursue humanitarian goals and focus on the well-being of others. There are countless ways to give, which is a good thing. However, as I’ve pointed out before, the human need present in today’s world is varied and vast, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by it all.
We encourage everyone to get involved with a charitable cause this holiday season. Acts of selfless service and generosity go a long way toward making the season a happy one for all of our friends and neighbors.