Christmas anticipation begins even before Thanksgiving, when stores begin putting up trees and decorations to get people into a shopping mood. Once Thanksgiving is over, the ramp-up to Christmas begins in earnest. The season is filled with plans for family get-togethers, parties, shopping and the anticipation of Christmas Day.
Once all of the celebration is over, it’s common for adolescents to feel a little depressed. Suddenly they have nothing big to look forward to. They’ll soon have to say goodbye to visiting family and return to school, chores and homework. Older teens may even feel disappointed that the childhood magic of the holiday is no longer like it used to be.
Putting other people first is an antidote to the after-Christmas blues. Teens who may groan at the thought of volunteering can do a little online research and find local organizations that need help. Performing an unexpected kindness for someone not only helps that person but provides a surprisingly good feeling for the giver.
Homeless shelters are always in need of volunteers. Nursing home residents might be in need of visitors; just having someone to talk to can make their day. Taking along a well-behaved dog really makes elderly people smile, though one should always get permission beforehand. Nonprofit organizations welcome volunteers, and many such places are a fun way to spend some time while helping.
Other ideas include:
- Donating old clothes or household goods to Goodwill or other worthy groups
- Delivering canned and packaged foods to a local food bank
- Taking new or lightly used toys to a children’s hospital
- Reading stories to hospitalized children
- Sending a care package to troops overseas. Operation Gratitude or Give2TheTroops can be contacted to learn what to donate and where to send it
- The website DoSomething.org provides a list of causes and organizations needing help
- Ask elderly neighbors if they need assistance with anything such as raking leaves or grocery shopping
- Help at your local animal shelter
Teens, with their inevitable tech savvy, are perfect for teaching older people (who may be nervous around computers) the basics of how to get online for entertainment and shopping purposes or even how to Skype their faraway grandchildren. Teens can also volunteer to set up a social media account for a local non-profit group, then use their own social media to spread the word about the group to friends.
Teens who enjoy baking can set up a bake sale with the proceeds going to a local charity. DoSomething.org pairs a teen with an older adult to cook or bake a traditional dish, and the teen’s name is entered to possibly win a $10,000 scholarship. A teen can coach young kids in their favorite sport or volunteer to help at one-day events such as a beach clean-up or handing out water at a bike race. There are many ways to help other people; plus, it’s a great way to meet new friends and boosts a resume. So get out there and give it a try!
White River Academy is a licensed and accredited residential behavioral health center and school for adolescent males located in Delta, Utah.
Written by Veronica McNamara