Tuesday, December 03, 2013
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Special feature from LDN's Home for the Holidays magazine

Need a little spirit lift this season?

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[December 03, 2013]  Are you looking for more happy, merry and joy to put into your "Happy Holidays," "Merry Christmas" and "Joy to the World"?

For some people, this season can be particularly difficult. Yet, if you are standing at the right time and in the right space, you will notice other people moving with a spring in their step and a gleam in their eye, reveling in the holiday season. You will see them greeting perfect strangers with hale messages of goodwill as though they were dear friends and family.

These happy people hold a key to wealth beyond earthly riches. They carry something inside that we can all share in, if we open ourselves up for it.

What is their secret?

If you would stop these people and ask the right questions, you would find that what most of them share is an attitude of gratefulness. They are not thinking about what they don't have. That's not to say that they lack wants or wishes, but they appreciate what they have already, and gratitude is more at the center of their being.

Another measure that lifts the spirit is when you look to the needs of others.

The scope of giving is broad. It might be money or gifts, or it might be as simple as being present when someone needs somebody just to be there. It can be in the form of your talents or your labor. But, whatever it is, it should be what you can and want to do.

A poll of those working in the LDN newsroom pretty much hit all aspects of how to give to others. You may not know the people who work for LDN, but they are a great bunch. They appreciate and enjoy working with one another. They are an industrious lot and love the work they do. And, they clearly care for others outside their home and their workplace.

To avoid embarrassing anyone, below is a mixed-up compilation from the actual responses to a couple of questions about who or how our staff say they like to help and what charities they like to donate to, particularly around the holiday time:

"Holidays are sharing a hug, smile and giving someone encouraging words. It's about taking our eyes off of us and looking for the need."

"We do what we can when we can. And, we try to spread it out throughout the year, not just at Christmas time."

"I like to get a star off one of the trees and buy gifts for children."

"There are many local organizations that need support, and even though what we give isn't a large amount, we know that even a few cents dropped in a Red Kettle at Christmas time adds up to something significant eventually."

"For us, the most important part of giving is to give from the heart with humility. We don't give so other people will notice, and we don't give so we'll get our name on a list, we give because we care and because we want to help."

"I always look for someone who I can cook for that is having a difficult time. Maybe it's an elderly person who is having health issues or just some one who needs a little fussing over. And if I make something that I know is a favorite of yours, I try to send a meal or two your way."

"Another important key for us is that we support local groups that use the money to help our neighbors. In Logan County those types of groups are not hard to find. There are dozens of them, including the clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Jaycees and many more."

"And, we always want to offer our help to those groups and organizations that help children. Kids have no control over their situation, and it is hard for them to have nothing when they see their friends at school who have much, so if a dollar here or there or a storybook dropped in a Toys for Tots bin can make their holiday better, that is a gift worth giving."

"Given what has happened in Washington, Ill., we need to remember how blessed we are."

Favorite charities named:

  • Toys for Tots

  • St. Jude

  • The Angel Tree project

  • Church and church-related agencies

  • Ronald McDonald House

  • Light Up A Life

  • Mission Mart and New Beginnings (for supporting the homeless)

[to top of second column]

  • Salvation Army and United Way use the funds raised locally to support local programs.

  • Logan County Food Pantry

  • Feeding America
    The Central Illinois Foodbank gets one-third of its food from national donations through Feeding America. Mailings from Feeding America indicate that a donation of $1 provides $19 worth of food, or if they have a matching grant in effect, which they often do, it's $38 worth. That's a huge return, and they make use of food that might otherwise go to waste. Another way they put it is that $1 given equals nine meals. http://feedingamerica.org/ 

  • Habitat for Humanity of Logan County

  • The Humane Society of Logan County

  • Local organizations: Jaycees, Rotary, Zonta, Kiwanis, all those doing work for the betterment of the community

If you haven't done so lately, take a moment and be thankful for all that you have  mind, body, friends, family... It takes you above any external or material circumstance and lifts the heart and spirit.

Close your eyes for a few seconds. It helps to smile while you do this. If you are being watched, it will make someone else smile too. Now think to yourself, "I am most thankful for..."

Think on all that was good in this past year. If you ate regularly, brought home a paycheck regularly or did well in school; if you enjoyed some good times with friends and family; if you have your health; with just this much, you have a tremendous amount to be thankful for. Thank your Maker.

Also consider how you might help someone else. Be reasonable. If you have funds, give where you know it will do good. If you have time, share where you will enjoy it, find somewhere to volunteer, or just choose to spend one day to do acts of kindness.

Find somewhere there is a need, and give. Children need guidance, teens need support, seniors need a helping hand. Opportunities abound through schools, nursing homes, the libraries, the park district, the YMCA, and local parks and trails. Check with Community Action about less financially fortunate local neighbors who might need a hand by way of what you have to offer.

Acts of courtesy are free to give and make the world a better place. Get up one day and try this: See how many things you can do without it costing you a thing as you go through your day, things you can do that will make someone's day better, and be prepared to be surprised by what comes over you.

Once you find what's right for you, you will probably make it a habit for many years to come.

Remember, it does not require material wealth to give to others. A simple smile, a handshake, a pat on the back, a gentle greeting is always appreciated and may even touch someone's heart just when they need it most.


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