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30 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor This Holiday Season – Part 2

December 8, 2010

Yesterday I listed 10 ways to be a good neighbor in your own neighborhood. Today I’m sharing ways to spread holiday cheer into the rest of the surrounding community.

  1. With a major recession and chronic joblessness, food banks and social service organizations are hard-pressed to provide for all the needs out there. If you have any resources available, now is the time to share. Money, food, clothing, coats, blankets are all needed. It’s very easy to find places that need your help as early in the season as possible. Do an Internet search for food banks in your community, or check the local newspapers and their websites for links to charities. Don’t have money? How about some time? The same agencies who need donations need volunteers to distribute to needy families.
  2. Shop local. More and more of us are shopping online, but there are small businesses in your town who need their neighbors to stay afloat and keep jobs and sales taxes in your community. Try to do at least some of your holiday shopping at a locally-owned business. And if you’re going out to eat at any point, visit a local establishment, not a chain restaurant.
  3. Thank the people who keep you safe year round. Drop by the local fire station or police station and say “thank you”. Bring a basket of goodies if you’re able. When I say “goodies”, I mean things that are good for you. I used to take cookies to an office each December to thank the workers for their help, until one of them took me aside and said that as much as they appreciated my gesture, everyone there was trying to eat healthier. I wasn’t the only one bringing cookies or candy and the temptations to overeat was great. The next year I brought a basket filled with tangerines, nuts, specialty coffee and tea, and even a little dark chocolate. They loved it!
  4. Attend a community holiday event. Pick something happening in your town, a tree or candle lighting, a community breakfast or services and events at houses of worship. Challenge yourself to introduce yourself to at least one other person and find out a little bit about who that person is. It’s good to get to know a wide variety of people in the community. You may even make a new friend.
  5. Find out if a local school has a wish list. These days there’s no doubt teachers have a long list of needs. Call one of the schools near you and ask.  You can also find worthy projects at edutopia.org, a site created by The George Lucas Education Foundation, or at iloveschools.org.
  6. Recycle your Christmas tree. Most communities have a way to do this, either with curbside pickup or a place to drop-off. Check for requirements; some cities ask you to cut the tree into smaller segments, depending on the tree height. The trees get mulched and help nourish local soil.
  7. Call the nursing home near you and ask if they need volunteers to visit residents. Chances are you would be a welcome sight to many folks.
  8. Take part in a regional campaign to raise awareness about drinking and driving. The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s are a very deadly time of year with holiday parties happening. Go to www.madd.org to find out if your local Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter is leading an effort, or ask your local law enforcement agencies. (See my recent post where I mentioned MADD as a success story in raising awareness)
  9. Tip your baristas! Do you have a regular spot you go to for coffee or meals? Give the people who serve you year-round a special tip and say “thank you” for doing such a good job of taking care of you.
  10. Resolve to be a better community neighbor in the New Year. Find out when your city council or school board meets and plan on attending at least once. Look into emergency preparedness and discover how you can get involved. Plan on being a positive part of your community!

Have you helped your community during the holidays? Tell us! If you try anything on this list, please let us know how it went. What other ways are there to help the community at this time of year?

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