December 11, 2013

1 Easy Way to Give this Holiday Season, Without Spending a Dime! (& it Only Takes an Hour of Time.)

What if I said there is a way to help others this holiday season, without spending any money?

That has got to sound good, right? We all have so much shopping to do already! Gifts for friends, relatives and other loved ones—it adds up quickly.

There are places everywhere doing toy drives: collecting gifts for less fortunate children. There are promos on the radio for non-profit organizations that allow you to sponsor or “adopt-a-family” this Christmas (essentially one buys the gifts for a family who can’t afford to this year).

These are all awesome ways to give back and show love to others, and if we are in a position to do these things, we should absolutely do so. (Honestly, most of the toy drives have a mere $10 minimum. That’s really not much to give, considering how happy that gift could potentially make a child this Christmas!)

However, times can be tough, and we all  feel the squeeze on our finances this time of year! So how else can we give?

We can volunteer our time, right? Before you panic, don’t worry! I’m not going to suggest spending several hours volunteering at the nearest soup kitchen or reading to seniors. (Although again, if you do have a few hours you can spare, these are lovely options.) But I know, this is a crazy time of year! We have so much shopping and gift wrapping to do! We need to plan and cook holiday meals. We need to find time to bake cookies with our kids. We have holiday programs and special events to attend; the list can go on and on! (Not to mention trying to squeeze in a yoga class or two, so we don’t totally lose our minds, right?)

So what can we do?

We can give blood! There is always a need for blood and often not enough people willing to donate it. It’s completely free: just show up, and there will be juice and cookies afterwards! In my experience, it’s best to make an appointment; then it typically only takes about an hour to get through the process!

It doesn’t hurt—I’ve donated several times, and sure there’s a tiny prick when they insert the needle, but it’s truly not a big deal.

In fact, I’ve found that the people doing this tend to be way more careful and gentle than when I’ve had to have blood drawn for my yearly physical. Then just lay on a little bed, gently squeezing a ball for a little while, while the little bag fills up.

Everyone is always so grateful and happy to have people there, donating! They check to make sure you’re doing okay, and as I mentioned, there’s always snacks after.

Sometimes there’s even bonus incentives thrown in, like free tickets to a show at a local comedy club and things like that. The last time I donated, they were offering free chair massages for all the donors! Pretty nice! Although, believe it or not, I declined the massage so i could get back to the office (I was donating on my lunch break). Little bonuses like that are great, but really the best perk is the feeling of fullness in your heart. That feeling comes from knowing that you’ve given something you don’t need, that will be of great benefit to someone else.

That is what keeps me going back to give blood every few months. Giving blood is one of my favorite ways to practice Seva or Karma Yoga. It’s something I do, just because I can. It’s so easy for me to take an hour out of my day and share something I don’t need – something that can make a huge difference for someone else. The amount of blood taken is so easy for my body to replenish, I feel truly blessed to be able to provide for someone else in this way.

So, let’s give blood! It’s free, it’s quick and it can save a life!

No seriously—we can save lives!  How is that for spreading some holiday cheer?

Just a head’s up, some folks are occasionally turned down or asked to come back another time. For instance if someone is sick—that’s not a good time to donate. Donors need to be healthy and feeling good on the day they plan to give blood. Usually, donors need to be at least 17 years old, and there are also some  weight requirements.

Check the requirements here to find out who is eligible to donate.

Also, there will be some people who are not eligible to donate—possibly because of  recent travels out of the country, or perhaps because of a medical condition. Don’t be discouraged! Everyone can still help!

Volunteer at a local blood drive, signing people in. Or even organize a blood drive—consider asking your company or workplace if you can schedule a day for the Blood Mobile to come to your work site, and eligible employees can take turns donating blood throughout the day.

Someone organized a blood drive at my work place last year, and it was so easy and convenient to donate! The Blood Mobile set up right in our parking lot, and we all took turns donating throughout the day. It was so cool to see so many of my co-workers sportin’ bandages on their arms and those “I saved a life!” stickers on their clothing.

But even if someone is ineligible to donate and doesn’t have the time volunteer…Everyone can still do something!

Share this post, and help raise awareness. The need for blood is great and every little bit helps.

This is what inspired me to write this: I give blood a few times a year, and that’s great, but I want to share with others how easy it can be to do something so rewarding. I want everyone to experience the joy I feel when I give blood. If you’ve given blood before, you know what I’m talking about.

The holiday season is the perfect time to show goodwill toward others, and whether we donate blood or just help spread the word…know that we are making a difference.


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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photos: author’s own

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