To me hearing the words “thank you” is a lovely show of manners and in prayer it is a way of voicing your gratitude for what we have been given. Yet when all is said and done it is still empty of true gratefulness in my opinion. Words are cheap and don’t cost us anything more then a little bit of time and breathe.
I belief that actions speak louder then words on any day and we all have something we can offer up as thanks in a very practical way which ends up meaning the world to others. Here are some ideas on showing rather then saying our thanks for the gifts we have been given in this life.
Paying it forward!
This is not a new idea, but it is a great way of ensuring that the chain of kindness never gets broken. I still remember being down and out in 1990 and had to live on the streets with my new born child and baby in my belly for a short duration of time. Surprisingly it was a couple of homeless people and those who were on food stamps who ended up helping me with what they had. I had a hard time asking for help and I was not eligible for welfare myself since I didn’t have a green card yet. I was near tears several times when those who had as much need as I would buy diapers and formula for my baby and even gave me a little bit of food for myself.
Ever since then I have made it a practice not to give cash to those who are standing at the street corner begging, but I will rather go out and purchase food for them. I refuse to enable a drinking habit, but I have no problem at all to continue that chain of kindness and make sure that they have something good in their stomach.
Participate in programs like the Angel Tree or find a family in need in your own neighborhood!
It doesn’t have to be a holiday for people to need things. We so often overlook the needs of others unless it is a holiday right around the corner. If you are in touch with what is going on in your neighborhood you can see when folks have a tough time. Especially now with more and more families loosing income because of jobs being cut or lost. I have a habit to try to help out families with children. My kids are all grown up now, but I still remember how expensive school supplies were, how important it was to have some new outfits once in a while for kids when they go to school. Do some research and see who needs what. Make a little treasure box and just send it to them or leave it at their doorstep without any note who it is from. This is not about getting thanks for it, but about showing your thanks for what you have been given.
Do some free baby sitting or help someone with writing a Resume!
A couple of the biggest issues for single parents when looking for a new job is the lack of babysitting. When I used to work for a newspaper promotions company and had to deal with taking new applications it was a sure minus point when someone came in with all their kids in tow. It didn’t only look unprofessional, but assured that they would have to show them-selves in a bad light at the very beginning. Nothing frazzles a parent more then having to keep their kids in line while trying to apply for a job.
Another thing that so many have a problem with is writing a good and solid resume. Sometimes a good resume can make a big difference when acquiring a new job.
Why not help out and offer a few hours of free baby sitting to a single parent while they are out job hunting or for the first 2 weeks until they get their first paycheck. If you don’t have an income this can be a big problem for them in even being able to accept a new position. It is a lovely way of helping out and giving them the much needed aid in making their situation better. Just make sure it is someone who will not abuse it. Be upfront about the time you can spend and that once they have their income you are not going to continue to do this for free.
Give some of your good used clothing and toys away!
Most of us go through our closets from time to time and donate good used clothing and toys to charity second hand stores. It is a nice tax write off, but have you ever looked around their stores? Most of the time the clothing is still high priced and if someone really doesn’t have the money to begin with might still not be able to afford it.
So why not get together with some neighbors or friends sometime and gather all the good used clothing together and create a free to good hands or 25 cent a piece yard sale. Yes it means you need to put some work in, but it is a great way of helping others out.
Help the elderly and sick on your own!
These days with the economy it is our elderly and sick are getting shafted left and right. So many programs are now “low on funds” and our systems are flawed to the extent that many of those of us who need it the most can no longer get help.
If you know an elderly person near you who has a hard time getting around to even the grocery store, how about offering to do their grocery shopping or an errand once a week while you are out and about anyways.
If you always cook too much and have leftovers which go to waste most of the time, why not create a little meals on wheels program for someone who is sick in your area? It might make them smile and it is a lovely way of reducing the waste of food. Don’t make them feel as if it is a hand out so. Remember people do have pride. I know I have done it before and learned that the best way for me to approach it was to knock on the door the morning before I planned on cooking a large meal and asking the person in question;
“I am going to make xyz for dinner tonight and for some reason I can never make it in small portions. Would you like some? I really don’t want it to go to waste and that would mean you don’t have to cook tonight and I don’t have to throw it away! We can help each other here.”
Most of the time they take it pretty good and it gives them the opportunity to do the same sometime with me when they are able to. This way they don’t feel like it is charity. One particular Lady who has a lot of doctors’ appointments and can not cook as much as she would like enjoys this interchange. Her usual response is: “Sure, but I pick up desert for us!” Sounds like a deal to me!
Start a giving circle!
Remember the old barter system? In many ways you can cooperate this into a circle of giving. We all have little talents someone else may not have. For example Mr. A. might be really good at fixing broken cars, Mrs. B is a fantastic seamstress, Mr. C. is amazing at yard work and Miss D. is an amazing tutor in different subjects. Each has something they can do for each other. Find as many people as possible who would enjoy giving their talents for free for a few hours each month and make a little flyer with it and the amount of time they are willing to put into it.
Now those who need those talents and can’t afford to pay for it can approach the person in question and take advantage of their skill. Sometimes they may share between each other and at other times it will be someone completely different, but may find them-selves inspired to add their own talent and time to the list.
This turns into a lovely circle of giving which shows in action the gratefulness we have for the talents we have been given.
As you can see each idea calls us to do rather then say something. They end up helping those around us in a tangible way which can make a huge difference. I personally belief that whomever you pray to would be much more pleased with this then a simple “thank you”.
Not to mention the many lives you can touch in a positive way and remember why you have been given those talents to begin with. On a selfish thought, you never know it might even turn into something amazing for yourself.
Satisfaction in being helpful and useful is an amazing feeling and it makes us more connected with others. Disconnect from fellow humans has caused a lot of isolation for many around us.
We were created to be social and yet fear and often the thought that unless it is money we have nothing of value to offer to others. I personally think that this is a sad state of affairs and not true. We all have something to offer to the rest of humanity.
Thank you for reading and I hope that you might have found a little inspiration to go out and “give thanks” instead of saying it.
Here are a few Articles from my fellow writers on similar subjects I have truly enjoyed and thought you might like to check out as well. Keep the circle flowing darlings!
Sharon Mosher: Giving thanks every day
Corey Ann Brown: Give to give thanks!
Melissa Carol: My coke rewards and toys for tots!