Welcome back! We are now officially in the thick of the buzzing holiday season — even though we’ve seen festive touches popping up for weeks — and my company’s office has been buzzing with talk of the deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday (see my previous blog!!), and Cyber Monday, which has actually turned into Cyber Week with deals and special offers each day.
One very important day during Cyber Week is Giving Tuesday. While the official date this year was November 28, our generosity and focus on giving can extend far beyond one day. It’s absolutely fabulous that there is now a day dedicated to raising awareness about another aspect of the holiday season — giving to those in need. As important as it is to show our family and friends how much we care for them, as professionals in the real estate business, I strongly believe it is also important to show our communities and deserving charities how much we care as well. I have noticed that this business causes many of us to focus on our own business and goals because it can be so competitive. However, this time of year creates the perfect reason to come together with colleagues, clients, competitors, and other associates to make a difference.
My local company takes great pride in the fact that many of our agents are very active volunteers in the community. As a company, we are happy to give throughout the year to many deserving organizations. One prime example sticks in my mind from last year when our marketing manager began a movement to pay off local school lunch tabs right before Christmas and the end of the semester. She had been a child who struggled to pay for school lunch, and she shared her story and reasoning behind her donation. It struck a chord with dozens of our colleagues. Her generous and thoughtful contribution sparked our team to give and many others in the city as well. Within about a week, tens of thousands of dollars were given to our local school kiddos with the hope that they would not have to worry about a lunch tab they cannot pay off or being force to eat a different lunch than their peers because they have an outstanding balance. The story even made national news. So you might have heard about it! Her idea and actions were a perfect example of what this season is truly about.
The holiday season is a time when we all try to give and share a bit more, whether it’s gifts for families in need, a bit of extra money at church, or a donation of our time at a local nonprofit or school. Please, share your love and talents with those who can use it most right now.
Of course, our business is real estate, but don’t you feel that our purpose goes beyond that? As I have shared before, I often get to know the families I work with quite well. Because of that, I get to hear about new causes all the time and the charitable organizations and groups that are passionately working for them. If I had the money, I would send a donation to every single one, but of course I must choose, like I’m sure many of you do as well.
I continue to be inspired by friends and clients, and especially during the holidays I do try to give all I can, and I encourage all of you to do the same – even if it’s loose change in a bucket.
While I don’t feel it’s appropriate to promote any particular organization because there are SO many deserving groups, I will gladly promote the idea of finding a cause you are passionate about and giving what you can to them. I also love the idea of supporting local organizations — let’s ensure our time and gifts truly support our neighbors in need this season.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ways you can contribute this season:
- Donate old clothes, especially winter gear like coats, hats, gloves and boots to a local church, Goodwill or anywhere where donations are accepted.
- Give just $10 more each week at your house of worship through the holiday season if your budget allows.
- Sign up for a giving tree, where your family can purchase gifts for a family who wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide gifts this year. Banks, churches, and schools are typically great resources to find out more. My own family participated in an “angel tree” this year and just turned in gifts, coats, and shoes for two young ladies who needed some help.
- Call local non-profits and ask if they need some extra volunteers this year at any of their holiday events (this is a busy time of year for them too!).
- Donate nonperishable food items to your local food banks — they provide lots of holiday meals!
- An idea that one of my coworkers introduced last year is the idea of an Advent Box, where office members or family members bring a can of food each day of December as they count down to Christmas. Right before the holiday, donate all the goods to a food bank. Can you imagine how much food we could give if we all worked on this? I love this idea! It’s so easy and could be done in any school or workplace.
- Get the kids involved and have them choose some of their toys to donate before Santa and family members give them new ones. Check online for some really neat, creative ways to facilitate this task.
- Ask local animal shelters what items they need this time of year. Even better, volunteer to go play with the animals or take them for walks (the best idea is to adopt a furry friend this Christmas season!)
What are some other ways you are focusing on giving this season? Take a break from goal setting and business planning for the new year and think about what you can give right now. You and your business will both benefit from this generosity and goodwill.