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How to Help Others Who Are Less Fortunate This Christmas

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Ah, Christmas. A time for exchanging presents, stuffing yourself with pigs in blankets and getting merry on mulled wine. But Christmas is also, of course, the season of goodwill, and can be a tough time for many people, including those who are homeless, recently bereaved, lonely or struggling to make ends meet. So why not spend some time helping those in need this Christmas? Research shows that acts of kindness can have a huge benefit to your own happiness, health and sense of well-being as well as those of the people you help.  Take inspiration from these acts of kindness this Christmas.

Volunteer

No matter what you do, volunteering is a selfless act that will help transform the lives of many people over the holiday season. If you’re in the US, you can search for volunteering opportunities on the Corporation for National and Community Service’s website, and in the UK you can search on sites like Do-It.org. Of course, another good source for finding volunteering opportunities are the official websites of individual charities. You could lend a hand in a charity shop, help organize donations at a food bank, help out at a soup kitchen, volunteer for a charity helpline, or volunteer to wrap presents for disadvantaged children.

Make a reverse advent calendar

Alongside opening your own traditional chocolate advent calendar every day (ahem, unless you’ve already eaten it…), why not make a reverse advent calendar? It’s simple: just begin with an empty box, adding one item of non-perishable food to it every day until Christmas. You can then take it to your local food bank. Check with your nearest food bank to see exactly what should and shouldn’t be included in your box. As well as the basics, you could throw in some treats like cakes and biscuits – alcohol shouldn’t be included, however.

Or, another way to donate to your local food bank and help those in need this Christmas is to head to the supermarket and get food for the sole purpose of donating it to the food bank.

Give blood

Another great act of kindness at any time of year, demand for lifesaving blood donations doesn’t slow down at Christmas. If you’re fit and healthy, aged over 17, and weigh over seven stone 12 pounds (or 50kg) you should be able to give blood. The whole experience is relatively quick (although you’ll need to spend some time after your donation being monitored in case you feel light-headed or ill) and is one of the most selfless and rewarding things you can do.

You could also register to give permission for your organs to be donated after your death. In the UK this is the NHS Organ Donor Register, in the US you can register at OrganDonor.gov.

Befriend an elderly person

Statistics suggest that as many as one in three elderly people feel lonely and isolated, and loneliness is worse for your health than obesity. If you know you have any elderly neighbors, even just starting a conversation with them can have such a positive impact. You can also offer to help with practical tasks like shopping or dog-walking, or offer to help them get to medical appointments and other activities. Bear in mind that the latter is probably only recommended if you have a pre-existing relationship with them, as a stranger might be intimidated or scared by someone they don’t know intruding on their life. Charities such as Age UK and Independent Age also run volunteering opportunities to befriend an elderly person – if you live too far away to visit in person, you can befriend them via telephone.

Invite international students over for Christmas

International students who are staying on campus over the Christmas break might be feeling isolated in their deserted student halls – so why not ask if they’d like to come to yours for Christmas dinner? You could also ask anyone else you know who seems lonely and might be spending Christmas alone. No one should be alone on Christmas!

Perform simple, random acts of kindness

Simple, unexpected acts of kindness at Christmas can really brighten someone’s day and make you feel great about yourself as well. You could…

  • Give a generous tip to a friendly customer service worker like a waiter or barista
  • Buy a homeless person a sandwich and a hot drink
  • Help someone who’s struggling with their luggage on public transport
  • Give up your seat to someone on busy public transport
  • Buy your friend chocolate (or a drink in the pub!) when they’re feeling down…and listen thoughtfully if they need to vent
  • Give genuine compliments
  • Offer to take photos for any tourists you see trying to take one of themselves
  • Answer questions on freerice.com to provide rice to hungry people

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Sabrina Collier's profile image
Written by Sabrina Collier
Sabrina is a content writer for TopUniversities.com, providing guidance on a wide range of topics. A graduate of Aberystwyth University, Sabrina is originally from the West Midlands but now lives in London. 

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1 Comment

Thanks for sharing a helpful post. Christmas is a season of sharing happiness and joy with others. So, you can share happiness with the less fortunate people by celebrating Christmas with them. One can take simple measures by joining mission humanitaire Afrique (http://www.mission-humanitaire-afrique.org/partir-en-mission-humanitaire-afrique) as a volunteer to support the programs arranged by shammesh and celebrate the Christmas with the poor people and share happiness with them.