Reaching Out to Others this Holiday Season

Empty Chairs © 2010 Bo Mackison

Yes, my family has always made charitable donations during the holidays, and my children were always included in many “giving-to-others” traditions. But now that all of my kids are out of the house, and mostly on their own, it seems time to focus even more on those whose needs are much greater than my own.

A friend is having a “gratitude party” next week. She is gathering her friends together to reflect on the last year. Each person is bringing a gift for a child who has nothing. It’s a tradition you could put into practice too.

I, too, have been to several neighborhood parties that charged “admission” — one year it was a gift certificate to neighborhood grocery stores, another year it was a backpack full of school supplies, a third year everyone brought a baby outfit and a carton of diapers. Maybe you could consider starting one of these traditions, or consider one of your own design.

Here are a few other suggestions:

Call the domestic violence coalition in your city or state (Google them using your state’s name) and find the “Contribute” page. Contribute through PayPal. Here’s the page for the Wisconsin Coalition of Domestic Violence contribution page.

Most shelters need basic household supplies–paper goods, shampoo and other toiletries, baby diapers, crayons, coloring books, baby food. Bring some hand lotion, lip gloss. Mittens, hats, scarves, socks, in all sizes. New blankets, robes, and slippers. Gift cards for local grocery stores, restaurants, even theaters, are greatly appreciated. Bring them a bag of needed items on your way home from the grocery or department store.

Here are the names of a few other Madison area agencies that I have supported throughout the years. They can always use your help to spread the good they do just a little further:

Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending hunger in southwestern Wisconsin, serving over 14o,000 people annually, 43 percent of whom are children.

Middleton Outreach Ministry (MOM) is a community based program that provides food, clothing, and housing assistance.

Your gifts to the YWCA help women through their housing, employment & training programs. A list of needed donations is included on their site.

You can make a difference. The smallest action on your part will resonate a long way. Shop for someone else today. Call an agency who provides help to those in need and donate some of your Holiday budget to those who have little or nothing. Write a blog post for your own local area. Or just link to this site from your blog. Everything helps.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Well said.

  2. Thanks for the links, and well put. Much more productive than feeling one has accomplished something simply by changing Facebook icon to a cartoon.

  3. Thank you for this, Bo. We are planning on having some neighbors in…I may have to consider charging “admission.” Great “food for thought.” There are so many in need, and even little things DO make a difference.

  4. Thought-provoking and heart-touching at the same time.

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