As the holiday season winds down, and we start to remove the holiday decorations and prepare for the new year, let’s take a moment to reflect on the goodness and cheer the Christmas season brings. We have witnessed hundreds of volunteers give their time, talent and funds to various charities and organizations in the “spirit of season.” Activities included ringing the bells, donating canned goods or cooking the actual holiday meals and singing Christmas carols to those who are not able to travel from their homes or who may not get many visitors in the year.

As we start to think about the new year, and all the goals and resolutions that will be made, let us not forget that the spirit of giving is not limited to the holiday season.

The charities and organizations we have given to this past holiday season will continue to do their work all year round.  In fact, many of these organizations would greatly benefit if they could receive the same level of support steadily throughout the year.

But without the decorations and holiday advertising constantly in our sights, how do we keep the same level of “holiday giving spirit” all year round? Here are a few strategies to help.

Since giving does not go out of style, or season, consider listing giving as a goal for the new year. Notice I used goal versus New Year’s resolution. We want to ensure that this behavior is sustained throughout the year, and not just the first few months, as is the lifespan of most New Year’s resolutions.

Budget for your giving. If your funds are allocated, you are more likely to follow through and less tempted to spend it on something else. It also prioritizes your giving and reinforces your commitment to your goal.

Not all giving needs to be financial. Schedule time to give time and write it down in your schedule or whatever method of planning you use. A few hours of sweat equity helping with projects, answering phones or greeting customers could free up staff to work on other tasks that often get piled up (like paperwork and reports).

Keep in mind that helping is contagious, so invite others to join you, especially if they share the same interests as you. Use it as an opportunity to create memories or traditions, just as we do with the holiday season.

 When my son was in elementary school, every July we would go through his room and collect all his used, but still in good condition, toys, clothes and shoes and donate them to the local shelter for children and families. It was important for me to create this tradition so that we can clear out his room for the new school year, but with the added benefit of having him experience giving.

Although I expected some resistance to him giving away his items, explaining why we were giving them away and allowing him to be a part of the process helped to minimize the conflict and by the third year, he was taking the initiative and setting things aside on his own for our annual “clean up.” I remember he said to me, “Mom, I’m going to give this to the children.” Memories like these are priceless.

Helping others, achieving your goal and creating memories: three outcomes that can be accomplished by engaging in year-round giving. And three outcomes that shouldn’t be limited to the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day (and for our Catholic faithful, through the Feast of the Three Kings). mbj


— Christina B. Noket is the community manager for the American Cancer Society in Guam. She can be reached at [email protected].