What giving back means to me

‘Tis the season to go shopping, wrap presents, and attend all of the holiday parties. Many will hop on airplanes to make the journey home to celebrate with family, face the snow ridden roads, go over the river and through the woods, just to get to grandmothers house. For many, this is one of the craziest times of the year. While this time of year brings families together or you finally getting those socks you’ve been dying to buy but hoped Santa or a loved one would surprise you, there’s also a lot of spirit in giving back to your local communities or donating to your favorite charities — and I love that.

I’m a big fan of giving back, whether it means donating money, volunteering your time, or dropping off supplies or a meal needed to a shelter or organization. I work at the American Cancer Society, so my every day job is talking to people about ways they can give to our organization, volunteer in their local communities, or even take things to the capital and become an advocate for us. And sometimes, this fact is lost on me. I mean, it is my job. I’m proud of the work I do, but sometimes I need to take a second to give back completely “pro-bono” and on my own.

As humans, we have a responsibility to look out for one another. Now, I’m not here to suggest you give everything off of your back if your neighbor asks for it or needs it. It’s all about balance my friends.

I work at a non-profit. Which means I don’t make a lot of money, so there are times when I can make a donation because I need to pay rent or I can’t buy groceries to cook a meal somewhere because it’s not in my budget — it happens. But when I am able or when an opportunity arises and it makes sense for me, I do my best to do it.

Nothing feels better to me than picking a few organizations that mean a lot to me and quick making an online donation, even if it’s $5-$10. Giving Tuesday happens on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States and this was the time I had planned to give to a few organizations. I looked at my budget and said, “yeah, okay…I can make it work.” (I also had made a plan with a group of friends to all pick a name and donate on behalf of that person in leu of a Christmas gift this year).

Organization’s I donated to this year:

Another thing I’ve been able to now do a few times is go to the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Minneapolis and cook dinner for the guests. This is a place where people who live farther away from their treatment facilities can stay for free during treatment. One of the biggest burdens to people getting the cancer treatment they need is access to lodging and the Hope Lodge provide a warm bed, full access kitchens, and a comfortable atmosphere for you to relax after a long day of treatment. However, they don’t provide meals to the guests, which is where we come in.

I’ve now cooked two dinners at the Hope Lodge and it’s truly a treat. The guests are always so appreciative and fun to chat with. I feel lucky that I have the means to go and make their days just a little bit easier.

Taking time out of your day to cook a meal, stuff some bags, write a card, give some money, or just wish someone well, it’s definitely worth it. I know it can feel hard to do some of these things, trust me, I wasn’t able to do a lot of these things until now. But if you’re able, I’d recommend trying out a new type of giving back you haven’t done before. Maybe even check out some places once the holidays are over.

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Hope Lodge in Minneapolis (or in other cities in the United States), please consider helping them out not only this season, but after. We’ve been told people love to cook meals leading up to the New Year, but once January hits, home cooked meals come to a halt.

Giving back not only helps the people you’re serving (in person or monetary), it can fill a little part of your soul as well. I’ve been reminded about why I work and have difficult days when serving to the guests at the Hope Lodge. I’ve been reminded that my $25 goes toward a dogs veterinary bills, or helps teens get leadership experience, and that makes my cup feel full.

And that’s what giving back means to me.

-Cas

P.S. What are some other great organizations we can bring to light in the comments? I’d love to learn about more!

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Twenty something looking for inspiration, travel opportunities, and all of the dogs to cuddle.

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