Braille Monitor               December 2023

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Eleven Seasonal Acts of Kindness

by LaShawna Fant

LaShawna FantFrom the Editor: As blind people, we are often the takers, not so much of choice but sometimes for not knowing the ways in which we can give. LaShawna is a regular contributor to these pages, and it is with gratitude that we run her suggestions about how we can be givers in our communities.

There are endless good deeds we can do to give back, make a difference in our communities, and help deliver glad tidings to homes. These are a few examples:

1. Serve in a soup kitchen, food bank, or food pantry.

On all occasions, soup kitchens look for volunteers to help serve food and cook meals. A food bank is a warehouse that accumulates food to disperse to needy communities, and a food pantry directly delivers the food to individuals and families who are in need. For many people, a meal at a soup kitchen may be the only meal they eat that day. Volunteering at a food bank or local food pantry may include donating food, purchasing food with a budget, and distributing food to those in need. These are all fruitful ways to help and connect with people of various backgrounds. As a volunteer, you will help those in need with the food necessary to keep them healthy.

2. Assist your local animal rescue or humane society.

You can donate dog food and other wish list items, help pets find a forever home, and assist the animal shelter with educating about their different programs. These small things can make a big difference!

3. Tutor or mentor individuals.

Tutors help provide one-on-one assistance to students who need to hear the material differently. More often than not, a tutor will help find a simpler way for the student to make sense of and learn the material. Usually, this is beneficial in keeping an individual's mind sharp and learning a priority. In addition, a mentor is a person who can support, advise, and guide you. They typically take the time to get to know you and the challenges you are facing and then use their understanding and personal experience to help you improve. Mentorship, in general, gives kids who may not have a good role model a chance to experience a healthy relationship with an adult. These are great ways to spark your creativity and bring joy to the world while extending your hand to uplift.

4. Gather family and friends to sing songs.

Deck the halls of homes, shelters, and nursing homes by singing carols. While jingling your bells, encourage your loved ones to sing and perform in our local neighborhoods. This gesture does not involve decorating, gift-wrapping, or shopping; however, these wintery lyrics can make a person smile a little easier.

5. Donate money to a charity or nonprofit of your choice.

Motivate your children and loved ones to donate part of their earnings to a local cause or nonprofit and be an example by donating to the cause as well. Any monetary contribution will be of aid.

6. Make Braille greeting cards or arts and crafts.

Handmade cards and festive, artful designs are original pieces of creativity. Let your imagination flow as your thoughtful custom cards and glittery crafts bring cheer to someone's heart and home. 

7. Help out at a homeless shelter.

Annually, countless Americans are sleeping in homeless shelters, transitional housing, and public places like bus stops, bridges, and parks. Helping their lives to be merry and bright by volunteering is of great value. You and the children can dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh, read silly joke books, or put together a puzzle set. With the older residents, you can clean the community common room and kitchen, help research housing or jobs, or assist in learning a new skill.

8. Call and check on people who are grieving, sick, or need to hear a pleasant voice.

While snuggled on your couch and without leaving your home, you can call and warmly connect with people. Sometimes, this expression is the very act of kindness a person needs.

9. Donate new or gingerly used items.

Everyone is not able to purchase items at full price. Typically, they scurry to shelters or thrift stores to pick up items necessary to survive. Donating items that are unwanted or no longer used is a great way to help out your community. The gently used coats, blankets, and shoes in your closet can make a big difference to others while cleaning up some of the clutter in your home. 

10. Visit the elderly.

Often, the residents of nursing homes, along with the patrons of senior centers, do not see the jolly faces of guests. Even if you don't have a family member who lives in the nursing home or goes to the senior center, you can volunteer at senior citizen events and read books, bring baked goods, play games, make birthday cards, and so much more. The residents will enjoy the company. You may also hear some great stories about years gone by.

11. Bake a cake or dessert to take to a family.

A sweet treat can add to a family's meal, whether it is a chocolate cake, banana pudding, or fresh brownies. Showing a child how to bake or design a gingerbread house or allowing them to help deliver the dessert to a family is also beneficial.

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