Give More, Get More
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Rory and I were given the opportunity to spend all day volunteering at the Oak City Outreach Center. During our three or four hours there, we were able to hand out vital food resources to over 150 people who depend on this amazing food donation center each week in order to feed themselves, feed their families. There were single men and women, and there were many who had children with them. There were a lot of people there who were obviously struggling badly. Most people stayed after receiving their donations, socializing at one of the 20 plus buffet tables set up with chairs around it for people to hang out in. Most didn’t have homes to go to, and were happy for a safe place to spend the day. After we finished handing everything out, I wandered around saying hello, shaking people’s hands, sitting down and listening to their stories. It was a really beautiful day.
When you go to volunteer, it’s easy to think about how important it is to give back, to give to those less fortunate, to appreciate all that you have in your life, no matter how little or how much. And all of these things are true. But what we don’t talk about enough is how much you get back when you give. We tell ourselves we should give for others; but when was the last time you heard anyone tell you that they were giving for themselves?
Giving is such a rewarding act. Helping others less fortunate raises gratitude for all the things that we are blessed to have in our own lives. Connecting with others as you give creates feelings of compassion and empathy, allowing us all to see how similar we all are, rather than being blinded by our minuscule differences. It helps to take us out of our day to day grievances, and lets us see the bigger picture of what is going on around us. Giving can be the biggest gift you give to yourself, and can enhance all other aspects of your life.
This holiday season, I urge you all to find a way to give back. If at all possible, find a way to do it where you actually connect to the person you are giving to. Find a food bank or a shelter in your area, and call to see if they need help. Connect with a toy drive. Volunteer at a church. Say hello to someone on the street… maybe even buy them a hot cup of coffee or hand them a pair of socks. Find a way to give back in a way that is meaningful to you, and I promise you, the gifts that you get back from the experience will be more than you give out.
We want to hear from our readers, those that are inspired by our project and our blog. If you’re volunteering your time this holiday season or throughout the year, please consider submitting your story of giving back to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, ideally with a picture, and we may feature your story here on Just Say Hello Tour.