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Do something for others for the holidays

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As we enter the Holiday Season, it’s a good time to think about doing something for others. Many people write a check to their favorite charity – and while that’s not a bad thing, getting out and actually doing something makes you feel even better! Volunteering your time can be more valuable than you think! You might have skills that can assist others.


Many groups give bicycles to children in need around this time of year. Someone has to assemble them. But not everyone has the skills to wield a wrench or pump air into a tire.


There are groups that go out to repair, remodel (for accessibility), and repaint homes of the elderly and disabled. There are groups that go to schools or playgrounds to upgrade the facilities. Many groups assemble food baskets for those in need.


Considering the name of this site, you might also think about what needy LGBTQs could use. While there are many among us who are living very comfortably, others are struggling to survive. A particularly high percentage of Transpeople are living far below the poverty level, with an extremely high unemployment rate. Women, People of Color, and young people are particularly vulnerable groups in our community. In many areas, there are no services available – or the services available are not LGBTQ-friendly (even in very Progressive regions).


Giving blood is also something that is useful around this time of year because not only is there more need (due to accidents), but many of the usual donors are away on vacation. But blood banks could use your help all year round. (Unfortunately, the US FDA still bans donations from some Gay men.)



Many people want to volunteer to serve holiday meals in homeless shelters and rescue missions. But most of these groups feed the needy every day of the year. Volunteering on a different day is more useful to those groups.


Many homeless shelters would be thrilled to have groups come in to serve a meal once a month. They’d be even happier if they could get a different group come in every day of the month (or even some of those days). When I stayed in one county-run shelter, the sheriffs delivered “County Trays” that were left-overs from the nearby jail – the prisoners assembled the trays. County Trays were served twice a day, every day except for the once or twice a month when groups came in to serve a Saturday or Sunday lunch.


A different shelter in a different city and county, run by a non-profit, had been able to arrange to have groups bring in dinner almost every night – only one or two nights a month didn’t have a group come in (they never served lunch at that shelter). One of the ‘groups’ that came in was a mother and her very young children. She’d cook up a huge pot of soup and serve it with salad. One group always brought in pizza, and one always brought in fried chicken, both were purchased. And yet another group was a bunch of teenaged boys – I found out they planned the meals, prepared them, and served them to us (that explained one menu).  ;-)


Assembling hygiene kits for homeless people is popular too. But think about all the things you have to have every day just to live your life. All those sample-sized supplies don’t last very long. One new pair of socks will wear out long before the next year when new hygiene kits are distributed.


Sometimes it’s useful to ask someone who works with the homeless to find out what the actual needs are. You might be surprised at what they’d really like to have donated!


If you are a landlord, consider renting to tenants who have a more difficult time finding housing because of their histories. If you need to reduce the risk, consider working with a group that prescreens their clients. Some groups even maintain contact with their clients to ensure they are following the rules and paying their rent on time.



I realize that not everyone has the time, energy, or ability to do things for others, but everyone has the ability to be grateful for what they have and for the kindnesses shown to them by others. Thank the people who you don’t usually notice. Be considerate to the Sales Associate who will still be dealing with the slow lines long after you’ve left the store. Spread smiles when everyone else is frustrated and angry!  ;-)

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I'm a big believer in giving back and have tried to show some of my characters doing the same. My fervent hope is the actions of my fictional men and my exhortations at the end of some chapters/stories will motivate at least one reader to step out into their community and lend a helping hand.

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Great topic droughtquake.  i love everything you've said ... some of it people can practice all year, like just being a little politer, a little thoughtful to those in service positions. Most of us who serve do it because we like it and actually want to help.


Help the lady off the bus...just be nicer! It costs nothing.


Michael and i will donate what homeless need, toiletries, socks, underwear, mittens, hats, coats ... and we'll serve at the mission that helped get me off the streets. 

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I forgot to mention that when I was there to serve Thanksgiving dinner, I also dropped off my annual holiday donation. I’ve donated all sorts of different things over the years, but the time I decided I donate the same item that I use myself: same type and same size – no sample sizes! I use unscented Tom’s of Maine Deodorant. They use natural ingredients with no animal testing. It doesn’t contain aluminum, so it doesn’t stain undershirts with those nasty brown patches. I’ve also been told it’s better not to smear aluminum on your body in any case!


I decided that some of the clients might not understand the difference between a plain deodorant and an antiperspirant deodorant, so I printed up a sheet of return address label stock with a notation that mentioned they wouldn’t stink, but they might get sticky (each stick got the label attached before I dropped them off).  ;-)

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It is amazing how a little bit of civility seems to shock so many people! I was raised to be polite, and grateful for the little things, but that seems rare lately. I said thank you to a clerk at a store the other day and she was so shocked you would think I had said something horrid!

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5 minutes ago, Mikiesboy said:

Michael and i will donate what homeless need, toiletries, socks, underwear, mittens, hats, coats ... and we'll serve at the mission that helped get me off the streets. 

New underwear was part of my donation last year, but I couldn’t afford to buy more than 6 packages of men’s boxers in S-XXXL, so I asked that they only be given out if/when someone really needed it – many of the donations are split up and distributed all at once. The agency I donate to was one I started using when I was homeless and would still be except their selection for psychological therapy intern decided not to accept their offer at the point when she was supposed to begin. I will probably return to them in July when they get a new intern.


And while many of the policies and practices of the rescue mission bother me, I did go back to thank them in person. I had to use their services many times over a two year period and they never turned me away – I made very sure to follow their restrictions for time between stays before I tried to return. And I did meet some nice people while I was there, some who worked for the mission, some who were in their program, some who volunteered there, and some who were staying there just like I was (I still see some of them five years after I last stayed at the mission).  ;-)

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