On Valentine’s Day, thoughts turn to love and how to shower love upon our loved ones. Why not extend that love to those we may not know personally but who would benefit from a show of love and compassion? Cupid can shoot his arrows throughout the universe with a little help from us. We have listed some helpful suggestions to spread the love on Valentine’s Day and throughout the year.
Gift Cards Purchase gift cards from local supermarkets and give to a family that may be dealing with unemployment. In these lean economic times, a gift card to a local grocery store or supermarket can be a welcome show of love and concern. The recipient can purchase exactly what she/he needs. Gift cards can be purchased in various denominations to fit your budget. Another advantage of gift cards is there is no concern about whether the gift is the right size or color and the recipient can purchase exactly what is needed and eliminates guesswork for the giver.
Purchase an Outfit for Prospective Job Seeker With unemployment rates still higher than desired, we probably all personally know someone who is looking for work. With the number of interviews candidates have to undergo, it can be a source of anxiety if you do not have a sufficient wardrobe to appear for the interview. If a second or third interview is required, it may pose a problem for the prospective job seeker not to wear the same outfit twice. You can show some love by purchasing a jacket, blouse, shirt, etc that would coordinate with the job seeker’s current wardrobe pieces. Another piece of apparel would stretch the wardrobe to add versatility. Organizations such as Dress for Less and other similar organizations that work with job seekers may be present in your community. Check your local Department of Labor and Employment Services, Dress for Less or similar job and career placement services offices in your area for information about giving clothes for job seekers. Your generosity will be of benefit to someone.
Restock a Food Pantry Another way to show some love is to collect and donate canned goods and non-perishable items to a local food pantry. How many times do you read in the newspaper or hear a televised account about how a local food pantry’s food supplies are rapidly being depleted because the number of people needing their services has skyrocketed? In my area, I read of a local playhouse offering a free drink at intermission when you bring in a can of food to be donated to a local food pantry. What a practical, easy way to help restock the local food pantry and it does not break your budget to offer assistance. Everyone can add a few more items to their shopping list and donate to such a worthy community cause.
Social Service Agencies The women’s ministry of our church recently conducted a “Shoebox of Love” project. Each woman who desired to participate was asked to fill a shoebox with a wide array of personal care items such as toothpaste, soap, comb and brush, and other practical items to be donated to a mission that assists homeless women obtain housing and receive job training. The shoeboxes were wrapped and placed in brightly colored gift bags to be presented to the women. For those who did not have a shoebox on hand, we purchased a plastic rectangular transparent box which served the purpose just as well. Wrap the box in a bow and ribbon and the the project is complete. Almost every community has a local mission or agency that works with individuals who have no permanent residence or need job search assistance. Identify a similar agency in your community and bless them with your demonstration of love. This is a simple project that does not require a great deal of expense to the budget. Many of these items can be purchased at a “dollar” type store.
Adopt a Charity Do some research and commit to adopting a charitable organization for one year. Determine what the needs are and how you can allocate your resources to help meet a need. You are under no mandate to continue supporting the organization but you may find that you want to continue to do so. Be sure to do your due diligence before committing to a charity. It may be a local charity or agency in your own neighborhood. Nursing homes, daycare centers, after-school programs are some local agencies and programs that would welcome additional support. Nursing homes could be given inexpensive items to be given as prizes to their residents for various recreational activities that are conducted for residents’ enjoyment. Often the employees are working with limited budgets and a little help from family members and others would be of help. Inexpensive items such as books, crayons, colored pencils, caps, socks would be a welcome addition to the gift chest. The residents enjoy the prizes and the love shared cannot be measured. The appropriate department would be happy to give you a list of items that would be gratefully accepted.
These are a few suggestions that one can implement to spread love to those around us on Valentine’s Day and indeed throughout the year. Perhaps these ideas will stimulate additional creative ideas to make Valentine’s Day especially meaningful as well as the rest of the year. Truly we are blessed when we reach out to others and the satisfaction and fulfillment one receives from giving are immeasurable. Look around you and make the effort to show some love on Valentine’s Day and every day.