I recently had the opportunity to volunteer at a local shelter with our Friends of VNOC group. One of our volunteers had heard about a great idea. Offer Christmas/holiday cards with stamps for guests at a shelter to fill out and for us to mail.

We don’t think about it because most of us have family and friends to spend the holidays with, but there are so many out there with nowhere to go. They don’t have family; they don’t have friends with warm homes and fireplaces. I think we may take this for granted sometimes. I know I do.

At the shelter, I asked several guests if they would like to mail a card to someone. Most said they had no one and no need. I could see the sadness in their eyes. Some did take cards to pass out to local friends.

One guest was quick to say “No.” He walked by our table a few times. I could see he was thinking. After about an hour, he did come back over to us. He asked if we really did have stamps. When we told him we did, he proceeded to pick out a lovely card with poinsettias on it and he carefully filled it out. He said that he was sending it to his mom. That touched our hearts so much. Maybe his mom had not heard from him in a long time. I had so many thoughts and truly hoped that his mom would be happy to hear from her son. I don’t know what their family dynamics were/are, but I know for him, after a long deliberation with himself, he decided that he would reach out.

Another guest, who also at first said no, came over to our table after some time. He read the cards carefully and picked one out. We watched as he thoughtfully wrote something and then proceed to take it over to the women working at the shelter. It was a very sweet moment.

In some small way, I think we helped spread a little bit of cheer. We watched some who thought they had no one, realize that they did have friends or family and that they were not alone after all. That’s all it takes sometimes to make a difference.

Volunteering has opened my eyes to so many things that I otherwise never think about. The holidays can be a selfish time. What do I want? What do I need? The spiritual aspect of the holidays get put on the sideline so we can concentrate on the commercial aspects. Not for everyone, of course. This time of year there are many volunteers helping at shelters or serving food to the underprivileged and the homeless.

My message for 2020 is let’s work together to help others. Let’s be kind. Let’s complain less and get involved more.

What can you do? Simply say hello to someone on the streets that you would not normally talk to. Take a morning or afternoon to volunteer at a local shelter or food pantry. Our communities need our help and will be improved because of every little bit of support we can offer. Let’s cast the stone…..

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa