It’s Winter. The cold whips the skin like a cool mistress (unless you’re in a tropic zone, in which case I envy you).

Around this time of year there is the opportunity to participate in many Secret Santas through many different communities be it work, friends, or even online. I apologize for not jumping on this and arranging one for us.

Instead, my plea is a simple one. Give back to your community.

Donate Time

There are many soup kitchens in every town and the volume of people going around without hits harder. I think it’s empathy I feel when we step outside before finding respite in another heated place and see someone shivering on the street. Think of those that DON’T have a home to go to. Though I don’t suggest bringing a homeless person home, see what you can do in your community to help out your fellow man.

Nursing Homes have a tendency to make people anxious. Going in for a few hours and playing games and talking to some of the residents is very much appreciated. During the winter, when people are spending more time together, many nursing home residents have few visitors. It’s not just something you can do for them. Getting to know someone who was raised in a different time that is full of life experience and advice also benefits you.

Donate Food

A food bank’s shelves are ransacked this time of year. I can speak from personal experience. Many times I buy things because they’re on sale and they are never used. I have a bunch of crap that I have no desire to ever use. I probably once intended on them being used for something, but since I’m no longer eating the same amounts that I once was, it sits there forgotten.

Cabinet space is something I always find myself lacking, so the idea of hoarding all of this food I will most likely never use is ridiculous when someone else can use it.

There are many food banks that run auctions around this time of year where they have some pretty amazing prizes. Winning one of them is not only enviable, it is going towards and amazing cause. I’m sure there are others, but the one I’m nerding out about most is the Auctions for the L.A. Food Bank. Were I on the West Coast, I would be bidding to be on Doug Benson’s “I Love Movies” podcast or Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira and Jonah Ray’s “Nerdist” podcast. Actually, if they offer to skype me in I will probably join into the fray. I mean… You can even bid on a PRIVATE tour of PIXAR Animation Studios!

Donate Money

I know that purses are tight now, but think about it. A Secret Santa price ranges from about $10-25 considering what you are able to do. Since we’re not doing a Secret Santa, please think about throwing ten dollars to one of the following charities.

* Any Program Against Domestic Abuse:
Many people are survivors of varying forms of abuse. I have seen pictures from the people I have grown to care deeply for that were taken after a harrowing experience. Their bodies – battered and bruised. Their homes, destroyed. Please locate a local chapter and give what you can.

* Any Children’s Hospital or Organization:
There are so many mothers in this group. Some new mothers, some new grandmothers. You know how fulfilling it is to see a smile on an innocent face. If you’re out shopping during this crazy hectic time, grab an extra toy and donate it to Toys for Tots. Make a small contribution to a good cause for children that may have less in their life. Donate the toys that your children have grown out of (IF they are still good quality) to a local children’s hospital.
A few years ago, I worked for a video store. There was a boy that was suffering through chemo to treat his Leukemia. He loved movies so much I remember comping a lot of rentals to his parents and waving late fees. I even went to visit him and talked movies. Sadly, he passed on two weeks before his 14th birthday. His parents are still paying off the medical bills. See if there is a fund for a child in your area and take a few dollars off of their medical cost.

Whatever it is that you choose to do, share the story with me by emailing it to theboondockbetties@gmail.com. Include pictures if you can. I will share your story on the site!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.