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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Tis the Season to Become a Holiday Hero

Apr 07, 2011 05:07PM ● By Diane Carr

Just for a moment, put down your holiday list. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Have you ever thought how you, individually or as a family, could become a holiday hero? Joseph Campbell said, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." This is the time of year when our hearts are more open to giving. We reach deep within ourselves, rediscover our compassion for others, and pause to reflect how grateful we are for friends, family, and community. If during that pause your heart reminds you how commercial the holidays have become, consider different ways to make this season more meaningful.

Giving does not have to be difficult especially when you remember that small actions make a huge difference. There are many human service organizations that provide assistance in our community and the list can be overwhelming. From disaster relief to dog therapy, we’d like to help you sort through a fraction of the list so you might choose one closest to your heart.

Habitat for Humanity: Building a home sounds like an enormous task. However, you don’t need to be a carpenter or electrician to help build a home for a family in need. Volunteers are the heart blood of Habitat for Humanity, an organization that brings people together to make a difference. Whether skilled or unskilled, you can work on a construction site, be an office angel, or participate in the recycling program. Even one hour can change someone’s life.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida: Brothers, sisters, and best friends have a unique and priceless bond. Perhaps you could create a bond with a child by joining Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida. With 150 children waiting to get in a program that serves schools and the community, the simple gift of time creates lifelong memories and relationships. Helping with homework, being a positive role model, or simply spending time together can mean more than all the gifts in the world.

Candlelighters of Brevard: While you are out shopping, gift cards or food baskets are an affordable way to help Candlelighters of Brevard, an organization that helps children with cancer. For those ready for a deeper commitment, you could adopt a family. Simply taking the family out for a movie or holiday dinner provides wonderful opportunities for heart to heart connections.

The Children’s Home Society of Florida: If you have a desire to help out with art, dance, cooking, sewing, or coaching, you could become a hero at The Children’s Home Society of Florida. Maybe your business could organize a toy drive. One anonymous Santa teaches charity to his children by taking them shopping to fill a wish list, then they deliver the goodies. If Santa’s elf is more your style, pick up and deliver gifts in areas from Palm Bay to Titusville or help out in the warehouse sorting gifts.

Daily Bread: Christmas, New Years, or any day would be a wonderful opportunity to help prepare food, serve, and clean up for the 200+ homeless and needy people that come to Daily Bread. The regular hard working volunteers would greatly appreciate a break to spend holiday time with their families. Donations of food, clothing, and grooming products are always a necessity and drivers are needed to pick up food from grocery stores and restaurants.

Space Coast Therapy Dogs: If you have a dog that is loving, calm, and gentle, call Space Coast Therapy Dogs and become part of an on-call team to visit hospitals and nursing homes. Volunteers receive as much as they give knowing their owner-dog partnership offers healing therapy and stress relief. Personal visits touch the hearts of patients, elderly, or anyone who would benefit from a special dog serving special people.

American Red Cross: The annual American Red Cross Blood Drive will have information on where and how you can help on Saturday December 1 at the Eau Gallie Flea Market. Possibilities include First Responders, CPR, First Aid, Pet First Aid, Life Guard, and babysitting classes. Giving yourself knowledge could become your ability to save someone’s life.

McKee Jungle Gardens: Maybe you have a green thumb and a desire to help out in a garden. McKee Jungle Gardens’ mission is to preserve and enhance an 80 acre historic garden in a unique tropical setting for the education, enjoyment and enrichment of all. Who knew playing in the dirt could be helping humanity!

Rolling Readers: Literacy is crucial to succeed in life and Rolling Readers has helped over 8,000 children and trained over 500 volunteers to work in Title I schools. Perhaps your holiday hero mission could simply be to read to a child or become a one on one mentor. Imagine the ultimate reward of a child exclaiming, "I can read!"

Diane Carr is a free-lance writer, published children’s author, and Licensed Massage Therapist living in Merritt Island, Florida