Hello Everyone! Today, I’m writing to you as a friend. Not some mysterious entity, but a real person… with a REAL experience that reminded me what Christmas is all about. Please take the time to read and understand each word in this post, as it all comes from the heart.
A few years back, I went to get gas. I was a part-time server in my early 20’s so naturally, I was pretty broke. About to decimate the last of my funds, I put my bank card into the pump. The machine started giving me trouble and it was freezing cold, so I quickly gave up and went inside for help. I kindly asked the attendant if the pump was broken. She smiled and said “No, sweetheart. The woman before you pre-paid $20 gas for the next person.” The lady at the counter explained that the mysterious gifter didn’t want recognition. Apparently, she simply requested that the recipient do something thoughtful for someone else one day. I almost cried. This shocked me, because it was random and it came at a time I really needed it. I thanked the cashier because I had to thank someone and the woman was nowhere to be found. This was a case of pure altruism, and I got to experience it.
Later on that week, I was in line at a fast-food joint (one I’m too embarrassed to admit the name of). I followed the example of the amazing woman before me at the gas station. I told the cashier that I wanted to pay for the next car’s meal. She looked confused, so I told her the story, and asked her to send the same message I received a few days prior. She smiled and thanked me for letting her deliver good news on a hectic and busy day. I was so happy that I helped two people, which means Gas Station Santa helped three! Good moods and kindness are contagious; they spread like wildfire. I hope that chain reaction is still going strong today. I’ll never know more about this gas-gifting woman, but I’ll never forget her either. She’s changed me.
Each year I try to find ways I can give back. Especially now that I’m more established than when this story took place. I figure, if I can buy dinner for someone when I can barely put gas in my car, I can do it now that things are going well.
I was looking for new ways to donate, and came up with a list of things to try. If you’re looking for something to do to help others, consult my list of ideas below. This year, I opted for volunteering at my local Veteran Medical Center. I’m also dropping off old coats, hats, and gloves to the local Salvation Army (I originally typed dropping off old cats and am still laughing about it). Please take one day out of your busy holiday season to give to those who need warm clothing, company, food, and other things so many of us take for granted.
Sponsor a Family
Visit Family-to-Family to sponsor a family in need this holiday. If you’d like to support a local family from your community do a quick online search for family sponsorships in your area. For example, in Buffalo, NY, Child and Family Services is running an Adopt-a-Family program.
Make Blankets, Hats, and Gloves
Learn more about donating old items or handcrafting new items for those in need with blanketsforthehomeless.org.
Sign up to donate or volunteer your time at a local Veteran Medical Center with Volunteer.va.gov!
Each year, too many animals suffer through the loss of or lack of a home. If you can give an animal the forever home it needs, you’d make a huge difference in his or her quality of life. If adopting a pet is too much, you can always volunteer at the shelter to help care for them until they find a home to love. Search local pet shelters here.
This would also be on my list if I hadn’t recently gotten a tattoo. If you haven’t had a piercing or tattoo in the last 18 months, this is an affordable and easy way to give back this year. Blood transfusions can save lives and if you’re in good health, you can do just fine without some for a little while until you heal. Give blood; save a life.
Give to Toys for Tots
Visit Toys for Tots to learn where you can donate toys for over 7 million children who would otherwise not have Christmas gifts. If the holidays are important to you, this is one of the best ways to spread cheer. I’ve done this one in years past because no matter how hard things were, my mom always made sure we had an amazing Christmas. Giving that back to other families has always been important to me.
Thank you for reading my story.
I hope this made someone smile today.
Merry Christmas everyone!