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Here in Hanover

The Giving Season: Five Ways to Spread Joy

Dec 20, 2013 08:29AM ● Published by Erin Frisch

The holiday season is here—the perfect time of year to be thankful for all that we have and pass our good fortune along to others. Lending a helping hand can start in your own home; from donating much-needed clothing to filling a local food pantry, every effort will benefit an individual or family in your community. Here are five simple ways to spread joy this month.

1. Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen: Giving the gift of your time is perhaps the most rewarding act. At the Sacred Heart Parish in Lebanon or the Claremont Food Pantry, you can help prepare and serve hot meals to those in need, or be part of the cleanup crew. Involve your whole family; children can help serve, too, and they bring indispensable holiday joy to diners.

2. Bring Items to a Food Pantry: This act of giving can be as easy as buying a few duplicates on your next grocery-shopping trip and simply dropping them into the donation box in most grocery stores. The Co-op and Price Chopper both have donation carts at their exits where you can leave food items for the Listen Center or the Upper Valley Haven. If you want to take your generosity a step further, set up a donation box in your office, school, or town hall and encourage friends and coworkers to give as well. Then bring the donations to a Listen Center yourself in Lebanon, White River Junction, or Canaan.

3. Donate Gently Used Clothing: Sorting through your clothing is rewarding to you as well as to those who receive your donations. You can organize and de-clutter your room, and others can enjoy new additions to their closets. Grab a large plastic bag and fill it with clean, neatly folded clothes in good repair that you haven’t used in the past year. While you’re at it, suggest that your children, parents, or spouse do the same. You will probably be surprised at how much clothing you don’t really wear, and it can all find a new home in someone else’s closet. Bring your donations to one of the Listen Centers listed above.

4. Go Caroling: It may sound trite, but the gift of song can brighten someone’s day, and it’s one of the most moving gifts you can give. Even without a voice like Mariah Carey’s, if you join a group of fellow singers, you can blend right in. Offer your caroling skills in hospital waiting rooms, at a nursing home, or even in downtown Hanover to brighten dark winter days. You might offer homemade cookies on a platter to your audience as well. You don’t have to develop a large repertoire of songs beforehand; just use traditional carols that everyone already knows. Songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Oh Christmas Tree,” “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “Silent Night” are easy to recall, and your audience can join in.

5. Deliver Baked Goods to a Neighbor: This too, is a simple act, but one filled with the warmth of the holiday season. Just double your recipe the next time you make a pumpkin pie, casserole, chocolate chip cookies, or banana bread. Use disposable aluminum pans so your neighbor doesn’t have to worry about returning a pan (or use one of your favorite dishes to extend the holiday joy; maybe your neighbor will return it filled with his or her own recipe). Wrap your gift in a Christmas package, top with a bow, label with a note, and deliver to their doorstep. This simple gesture is one of the most personal and will build long-lasting bonds between you and the people down the street.

This holiday season, consider what you and your community gain from giving, and then keep the giving spirit in your life throughout the year. While many people give during the holiday season, local shelters and food pantries need your help just as much during the spring, summer, and fall. The flood of holiday donations is wonderful, but they won’t last all year. Giving year-round can keep your holiday spirit alive and well every day.

What do you do to give back to your community?

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