The best present to give this year is not a gift you’ll find under the Christmas tree

By Matthew Rutherford
November 30, 2021

Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash
Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

The holiday season is just beginning and many of us are scrambling to find gifts. After all it is called the season of giving.

While many of us give gifts to family and friends, some donate to organizations ,such as Toys for Tots or The Salvation Army. This year many don’t have the money to give as the pandemic has hurt most financially, but this doesn’t mean that people can’t give. In fact, many people could give something even more valuable; their time. Places are always looking for volunteers to help with various things.

“AS Student Food Pantry 9.7.16” by csu.montereybay is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Food banks are always popular throughout the holidays as more people drop off and pick up goods for their families. In the Greater Philadelphia area, dozens of food banks could use volunteers. Philabundance is the area’s largest food bank and helps feed 135,000 people each week. With that type of number, you can clearly see that it takes an army to feed people. 

“Capuchin Soup Kitchen” by Sam Beebe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One could go volunteer their time at a soup kitchen. The United States has 2,500 soup kitchens to help feed the half a million Americans that eat at soup kitchens weekly.

Though some soup kitchens only serve soup and bread, others serve a freshly-cooked full course meal and provide a take-out bag with a sandwich and other goodies. The most important thing a soup kitchen does is it provides the homeless with a sense of belonging. For someone who doesn’t have a place of their own, this is a big deal, particularly during the holidays. 

“Homeless and cold” by Ed Yourdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

It is always really upsetting when driving through the city and seeing someone homeless lying there in the streets especially in the winter months; sometimes with nothing more than a blanket to keep them warm. We all have clothes in our closets and drawers that we don’t wear anymore. Instead of letting your clothes sit around for a while, donate them to help someone in need. It may just be a pair of pants or a sweater to you, but to someone else, it could mean the world. The city of Philadelphia has about 5,700 homeless people that need our help. 

“Sailors lift a structural wall during a Habitat for Humanity build for Houston Navy Week.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 People need homes. One place to volunteer time is Habitat for Humanity, a group that build homes for the needy. This non-profit has many offices across the region.

Habitat for Humanity builds affordable homes around the world in partnership with families in need of a decent place to live. Habitat homebuyers help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. If you are not into building, you could always volunteer at one of their “ReStores.” The stores are thrift shops where the proceeds help local families to build, rehabilitate and repair safe and affordable homes in local communities and around the world.

We all love to receive gifts at the holidays, but as we get older, our lists get shorter and harder to make up. Instead of struggling to figure out what we want as a gift, we ask others to make a donation in your name to a nonprofit of your choice?

When choosing a nonprofit, choose one that means a lot to you. There is a nonprofit out there for just about anything. There’s even a nonprofit to help exceptionally tall high school seniors with college scholarships, so let it be something close to your heart. 

As you go about this holiday season, let us not forget about those not as fortunate as us. We should take a deep appreciation for what we have and not fret about what we don’t have, or didn’t get as a gift.

On behalf of all of us from The Loquitur, we would like to wish a happy and safe holiday season to you and your families! 

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Matthew Rutherford

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