Start 2018 on a Positive Note: Keep Helping

The first thing I do each morning is turn on my computer and look at news. That habit means I see a glimpse of the good, the bad, and the ugly of our world, usually before the sun rises. Many days, there are items in my news feed that lift me up, but all too often, the headlines and pictures leave me sad and heartbroken, then mad that our world has become “this”—whatever the latest “this” is.

Scrolling through the news, I see natural disasters and accidents and shake my head at the random nature of what befalls so many. I see crime stories that break my heart and make me wonder what could cause someone to do that to another individual or family. No matter where you turn, there are stories of people who need help. Images of families, mothers, and children in pain fill your newsfeed, TV, and phone. It can be overwhelming.

But time and again, we step up because it’s what we do. People donate, deliver supplies, and volunteer time to make a difference. And it feels good to know that we are doing something—anything—to help.

Then the headlines fade, and social media newsfeeds move on. But if you’re like me, you can’t forget the images and stories of those in need.

And we shouldn’t forget. We need to remember those stories and so many more. And we need to keep helping.

As 2018 begins, we need to keep that giving spirit that shined so brightly in the immediate aftermath of Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Sutherland Springs. We can give our attention, time, and resources to help those struggling to rebuild their lives. And when those people are back on their feet, we can keep giving to others because it feels good to help. It brings us together, lifts us up, and reminds us that no matter what comes our way, the world is good.

San Antonio is a community filled with good. I know moms who organized a drive for Christmas gifts for children in foster care. I know moms who organized meals for some of the families impacted in Sutherland Springs. I know moms who filled a truck with goods for Houston families who lost everything to Harvey. I know moms who gathered supplies for Rockport, Port Aransas, and other coastal towns. I know children who ask for birthday gifts—that they then donate to the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio or furry, four-legged friends at Animal Defense League. I know one sweet girl who started her own nonprofit to provide basic supplies and hygiene needs to San Antonio’s homeless.

Every mom I know has a fuller than full plate. Kids, work, and home fill the calendar, and there doesn’t seem to be room for much more. Not sure what you can do? First, know this isn’t a competition. It’s about doing what you can, when you can. That’s the beauty of working together and helping in some way: no matter how much or little you do, it helps. As often as the pictures and headlines make me cry, the pictures of people helping others bring me to tears even more.

Volunteers sorting donations at the Texas Diaper Bank.

Second, find a cause that you connect with. Needs are so widespread that there’s no limit to where you can make a difference. From hurricane relief and rebuilding to animals in need, there’s something you can do. That might mean helping your local animal shelter by volunteering to spend time with the animals or it might mean sorting donations at the San Antonio Food Bank or the Texas Diaper Bank. It might mean volunteering at your child’s school or supporting an effort at your church. No one cause or need is more important than another—anything you do makes an impact.

Blood donations are needed year-round.

Third, just do it. If you have time, volunteer. Any amount of time you can give is welcome. If you have resources, donate. That’s food, money, supplies, blood. Yep, I said it: blood donations are needed all the time, not just after disasters. Become a regular donor and know that you are helping save lives year-round.

Finally, let your children know what you’re doing. Include them if you can. It can be hard for children to grasp the importance of giving back, but they’re watching. Let them see you giving back, even if that means they’re just along for the ride as you’re dropping off donations. Have them help you pick out toys or supplies, ask them what they think the shelter animals might like to receive or what cool toy you can donate to keep a sick child entertained. Depending on their age, they can help sort items at Snack Pak 4Kids, help with a park clean-up, or help socialize animals. Yes, it means answering some hard questions about why kids are sick or why some people don’t have enough food, but it helps them understand the bigger picture. They’ll see that they can make a difference by helping others and glimpse the good in the world.

No matter what 2018 has in store, working together, we can rise above it and help others who need a hand. I’m ready to get things started on the right foot. How about you? How are you going to give back? I’d love to hear about causes and efforts you like or plan to support this year. Please share how you make a difference. Maybe your efforts will inspire others to keep helping, too.

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