“Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.” -Kevin Heath
It’s November, and that means it’s officially the kickoff to the holiday season. The shelves at big boxes have been merrily sporting their red and green for weeks, and the same retailers are already shoving Black Friday deals down our throats. Though it can be easy to get wrapped up in the materialistic hoopla (no pun intended), it’s important not to forget that this special time of year truly Tis the Season of Giving. This year, take a break from the spending sprees and devote your energy to spreading a little extra cheer to those around you. There are so many ways your entire family can volunteer time and resources to help those who need it the most. You’ll be surprised how easy it really is to completely revitalize the holiday season — the best place to start is with small, random acts of kindness. You’ll be amazed at the immense gratification you find in spreading joy to the world!
50 Ways to Serve Austin This Holiday Season
2. Volunteer to walk or play with dogs/cats at a local pet shelter.
3. Donate to Dell Children’s Christmas Morning with Santa. A group of pediatric nurses from Dell Children’s Medical Center have been coming together for over a decade to raise money to purchase toys for the patients and their siblings for Christmas. The nurses shop for the gifts and – with help from the community – wrap them. Santa, who takes a break from his crazy schedule, stops by the medical center on Christmas morning to personally deliver toys to each child. His sleigh is a gurney and the nurse’s dress like Santa’s helpers and elves. Donate here.
4. Hold the door open for people behind you (this teaches great manners).
5. Fix dinner for a new mom, or someone you know that seems especially busy and stressed.
6. Donate new or gently used items to The Austin Children’s Shelter (View Wish List here).
7. Run in The Thundercloud Subs Annual Turkey Trot. They donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the event to Caritas of Austin, which provides education and support services to working poor people to help them become self-sufficient. Event info here.
8. Give the first homeless person you see a $5 Visa gift card.
9. Go through toys with the help of your kids and donate the ones your they don’t play with anymore to a local charity or shelter
10. Take a bag of dog or cat food to a pet shelter.
11. Bake something yummy to take to a fire station or police station, along with a thank you note for their service.
12. Write a note to your bus driver and or school custodian telling her/him that you’re thankful for them.
13. Bring doughnuts to the teacher’s lounge at school.
14. Have your kids decorate large construction paper as Thanksgiving place mats and deliver to Meals on Wheels.
15. If you participate in Black Friday, stock up on special toys that are on sale to donate to Brown Santa, Blue Santa, etc.
16. Leave a Coke in the soda machine at work, or a snack in the vending machine.
17. Have your child interview their great grandma or grandpa about their childhood. (i.e. favorite toy, activity, favorite memories, etc.) Don’t forget to record this precious moment!
18. Take a trash bag (and gloves) to the park and pick up litter before you play.
19. Pay for the car behind you in the drive-thru line.
20. SMILE! This may seem small, but too often we forget how far this little gesture goes with others. It’s free and contagious!
21. Leave kindness stones at the park. Kids love decorating things and what fun would it be to discover a treasure like this somewhere? Simply write an encouraging word or phrase in sharpie on a rock and let your kids decorate it with marker or paint, then leave them at the park, running trail, etc. (You are Important, Be-YOU-tiful, Love, Today is a Good Day, Have Faith, etc.)
22. Show thanks to a service person (waiter, mail carrier, cashier, etc.) by writing them a thank you note.
23. Fulfill an Angel Tree request.
24. Write thank you notes or put together care packages for those who are serving our country in the military.
25. Donate blood (adults).
26. Deliver unexpected flowers to a person you appreciate.
27. Compliment at least 5 people in one day.
28. Think of an excuse to trade cars with your spouse for the day and give his/her vehicle a deep clean and fill it up with gas.
29. Offer to be the designated driver for a holiday party.
31. Collect canned food items for The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. Click here for information and most requested items.
32. Got a Buck or a Doe to spare? Donate to Hunters for the Hungry. You can donate legally tagged, field dressed deer to families facing hunger. Click here for more information and regulations.
34. Volunteer for Groceries to Go through Meals on Wheels, where you grocery shop for elderly or disabled clients without reliable transportation.
35. Bake cookies to bring to the break room at your office.
36. Spread cheer by starting a Christmas Elf chain at your office. Printable copy here.
37. Bake a pumpkin pie for a neighbor and include a tag that says “Pie Am Thankful For You!”
38. Make a pinecone bird feeder to hang outdoors. Smear it with peanut butter then roll in birdseed. This is a fun activity to do with the kids.
39. Return a stray shopping cart.
40. Find an inspiring quote and text it to a friend or family member that needs encouragement.
41. Offer to watch a friend’s children so they have a free night to go out.
42. Take time to really listen to someone’s story.
43. Leave a bag of popcorn on a Redbox as a little surprise to the next customer.
44. Stay to help clean up a friend’s house after they’ve hosted a party.
45. Leave a bottle of wine on your best friend’s doorstep along with a funny card.
46. Find some old photographs of childhood friends and send a copy to them along with a note about that special memory.
47. Tuck happy notes in people’s windshield.
48. Give someone the benefit of the doubt.
49. Make time for silly with your family. Unplug from the phones, ipads, tv, etc and have some fun with your family. Whether it’s playing a game of hide-and-seek, a family game of tag, or a living room dance party, let your hair down and enjoy some laughter together!
50. Do a 21 Day Kindness Challenge, where you do 5 acts of kindness a day for 21 days. Encourage the whole family to participate!
Have you ever been the recipient of a Random Act of Kindness? Did it make YOUR day?