Gift exchange is a part of many traditions celebrated during the winter, hence this is the time of year when we start putting a lot of energy into buying gifts. Usually we are baying for our close families and close friends. Sometimes we get things for extended families and acquaintances as well. Those with the means are often motivated to buy things for strangers in need as well, which in my estimation is energy well-spent. If you are inclined to make purchases this season, please allow me to make a suggestion: in addition to a cash donation on an item, volunteer.
A vignette: In attending a recent PMI chapter meeting, we head a discussion about project management in the context of Toys-for-Tots. It was a thoroughly engaging meeting on the sort of seat-of-the-pants management required for a national organization doing the bulk of its work over a six-week period every year, with many insights into the sort of logistical challenges that most probably don’t think about when donating a toy. What really stuck out though was their critical shortfall, year after year: volunteers. It seems that the group is seldom short on donated toys or donated cash, but folks willing to volunteer their time is always a gap. There are a lot of moving parts for coordinating movement of goods, storage of goods, identification of those in need, packaging, delivery, financial management and oversight, and so on.
The down-side is that the website does not make it clear and obvious how to volunteer. In order to volunteer, you must first select the “Donate a Toy” link from the main page. You will then be prompted to select your state and county, after which you will find an option to volunteer. Or, you could go old-school and make a phone call. 😉
I’m a fan of the USMC and Toys for Tots, but that is certainly not the only thing one can do during the holidays to give back to the community or help support those less fortunate anywhere in the world. Since the theme here is volunteerism, please feel free to visit https://www.volunteermatch.org/ to look for volunteer opportunities in a variety of areas.
There are many ways to share. And since sharing tends to be the theme of this time of year, I encourage all with the ability to research how you might do so. Get the whole family involved if you can. It’s never to early to teach the next generation the value of giving. Sharing is caring!