5 Ways to Give Back – Live On. Give On.

281_22dcb047a22b47723cb9af5c6b175f73During the holidays, we often hear stories of extreme generosity. Most of us can be inspired by these stories of giving, but when it comes to giving back ourselves, we sometimes don’t know where to start, or we may think that we don’t have much to give.

This year’s 10 Bakken Invitation Honorees all started with a clear personal motivation to give back. Many of them also started small, but their desire to help others has made a huge impact on many lives. All of the 10 honorees have overcome difficult medical challenges with the help of medical technology and emerged with the singular purpose of making life better for people in their communities.

Raj Reshamwala from Mumbai is one of Bakken’s Honorees this year. He received a coronary stent, but it hasn’t slowed him down a bit281_1d1622656fecbf58dfcbd275174b14d2 from helping kids in need get a good night’s sleep with his Sleeping Children Around the World charity.

Simply put, Raj said, “Ask yourself: Can I help? Then why not do it?” Raj observed that it’s not just the people you’re helping who benefit. “Helping others will satisfy your own soul too.”

Raj and the other Bakken Honorees have inspired us to think of 5 Ways to Give Back in our own community.

#1 Volunteer/donate to your local food cupboard

This one is very close to me. In an effort to get my kids (and quite frankly, myself) to think more deliberately about others during the holiday season, I volunteered the three of us to help out after school at the Food Cupboard in our town. The first week, we were all a little shy, but by week two, my son (age 8) and daughter (age 11) were stacking shelves, helping food cupboard patrons and packing boxes like total pros. We come each week bearing gifts of what our Food Cupboard needs (mostly personal care items and coffee), but we leave feeling full of the satisfaction of having done something meaningful for our neighbors. If you can’t donate your time, just give your local food cupboard a call and drop off a few items on their “most wanted” list. It goes a long way!

#2 Volunteer/donate to your local animal shelter

At my children’s school, each grade has a community project. When my daughter was in third grade, it was the local animal shelter. We visited and helped clean up, take out trash, whatever they needed. It was an afternoon well-spent, and the kids loved the idea of helping the animals. Our shelter publishes a current needs list on their website, and my kids and I enjoy picking out food, treats and beds for the animals that they now consider friends.

#3 Channel your inner Santa

Most communities publish a list (usually available through local organizations or businesses) of items needed for families in need. At our local bookstore, there is a tree with ornament wishes hung on it. Each year, my kids choose a child, and we shop for the most-wanted books on their Christmas list.

#4 Ring your bell

No. You don’t have to stand on a street corner ringing a bell to give back. You can have your kids do chores around the house to “raise money” to donate during the holidays. Vacuuming or doing a load of laundry are great ways to have your kids earn the money that they can then go and spend on a local child (see #3 above). Involving your kids in giving back from beginning (earning the money), to end (buying the gifts), can really instill the spirit of giving in the whole family.

#5 Raise your hand

Raise your hand figuratively (or, I suppose, literally too). When your kids’ school asks for someone to coach, volunteer! With a busy job and family, I never thought I’d have the time, but a few springs ago, my daughter’s school was looking for a coach for their community running program. It was truly inspirational to watch the girls work so hard and push their limits. You can also consider getting involved in your local Rotary Club or other philanthropic community group. A little time can go a long, long way for many of these local groups.

During this holiday season, give yourself the gift of giving back. Bakken Invitation’s Live On. Give On. campaign has inspired so many of us to live our best lives. As Bakken Honoree Lucilla Bossi says, “Savor the fantastic gift of a busy day.” Enjoy your ability to give back today and all year!

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Thanks to Medtronic for sponsoring this blog.

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