The holidays have come and gone. For some of us, it is a relief that the overwhelm of the season is over. For others in our community, the end of the holiday season also means the end of the giving season. But our community needs us all year long.
Did you know that the need for organizations such as the Giving Plate has doubled since the pandemic? There are more families and children in need than ever before. For those of us fortunate enough to have a warm place to live and enough food to eat, I believe it our duty to continue giving back and not save our efforts for the holiday season alone.
You might be asking, how do I get involved and give back in a meaningful, consistent way? I've made giving back a central mission in my life. I've spent a great deal of time volunteering and raising funds for organizations that help the less fortunate in Central Oregon. Here are some tips I've learned along the way.
Keep your community giving local.
It's important to keep your giving and volunteer time local. This community does so much for us. Look at where we live! We live in a beautiful place, and we're lucky to be here. I believe it is important to give back to our neighbors and friends right here in Bend. It helps us know our hometown better. It also helps to make the future brighter for everyone who lives here.
Pick an organization that is in serious need or just needs a helping hand.
When I'm out there looking at the different charities that are in need, I think about those that have serious need, and then I think that there are others that just need a little bit of a helping hand. I try to divide my time and resources based on the real need that is there. So, whether it is the Giving Plate or the Bethlehem Inn or another local charity, I may change depending on their current situation. Give the organization a call. Ask them about their current level of need and whether it has changed recently.
Encourage coworkers, friends, and family members to join you.
Volunteering and giving back is fun! And it can really be a blast when you rally a group of people you love to give together. One year, I got our real estate office involved in cooking at the Bethlehem Inn, and that was a blast. Now our office is a Miracle Office, meaning we give as a whole to the Children's Miracle Network every year. It really helps when you crowdsource your efforts. You make a bigger impact, and you accomplish something meaningful together.
Volunteer your time if budget is tight.
The new year and shifting economy may have you reevaluating your budget. When thinking about ways to give back, it's important to remember that it doesn't always have to include signing a check. You can read to a kid. You can work at the Boys and Girls Club. You can cook at the Ronald McDonald House or the Bethlehem Inn. You can volunteer for fun runs that benefit an organization you care about. At the end of the day, what's important is making a difference in someone's life.
Stay grateful and present in all the gifts you have.
By staying present and being grateful for your own security and comfort in life, you come to recognize how important seemingly simple things are to others that may not have the means. A pair of socks on a cold winter day. A warm bowl of soup. A new pair of shoes for the start of school. A new sleeping bag to get through the night. We can help our neighbors with these things if we take the time to notice and understand the need.
Bend is a wonderful place to live, 365 days a year. Let's keep giving throughout the year to help our neighbors experiencing tough times. Together, we can make the future brighter.