Being of service

I notice that I am entering the winter holiday season dragging my feet.  I am going to need to seriously motivate myself (and soon!) to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for 19 and open our home for the festivities.  Christmas decorations have already overtaken aisles and aisles in the craft stores I frequent, some of which must never have gotten the memo that some people celebrate other holidays.

It’s challenging to remember that these times are not about the stuff – the decorations and gifts and logistics.  We need to focus on the people in our lives and those out there who are not as fortunate as we are or who may need some thing or some money or some love.  My biggest gripe with this season of craziness is: “why do we only do these things now? why not do this all year round???”

Joanna from The Receiving Project recently blogged about 42 Ways to Be of Service.  I’ve pasted them below for you as well so you can explore the links.  Some of these are surprisingly simple to do – it’s really just a matter of being aware of other people while you’re going about your day.  So many times I find I am heads down, focused on the task at hand or whatever is on my to-do list, dashing from one to the other without looking up to even notice other shoppers, let alone help them.

A couple weeks ago, I ran into the grocery store for one thing between dropping my daughter off at preschool and running home to meet a repairman.  I almost didn’t have the time or patience for the older woman who needed to ask me about whether she should turn her heat on in her house.  (It was 50 degrees here for 10 minutes and people do tend to freak out about that.) The main mitzvah here was in listening to her with respect for a couple minutes before dashing away.  I reminded myself that one’s attention is often the greatest gift you can give.  With a smile and a shoulder pat, I was off, and she was smiling.  (And the next day it was 84 degrees.  Wait… it’s still 84 degrees.  Where the heck is fall?)

  1. Smile
  2. Make someone else smile.
  3. Say thank you.
  4. Leave an encouraging note on a strangers car.
  5. Donate some cash to a cause you care about.
  6. Listen to a friend.
  7. Participate in a prayer chain.
  8. Heal an unresolved issue.
  9. Walk a neighbor’s dog.
  10. Bring a meal to someone in need.
  11. Organize a canned food drive.
  12. Read to a child.
  13. Spend time with someone who needs it.
  14. Volunteer.  
  15. Participate in a walk/run/dance-a-thon.
  16. Hold the door for someone.
  17. Give your leftovers to someone who may need food.
  18. Buy a soldier a cup of coffee.
  19. Share an uplifting quote.
  20. Help a classroom get needed supplies. 
  21. Bring baked goods to your local police or fire station.
  22. Let someone know they are doing a great job.
  23. Make art as a gift to brighten someone’s day.
  24. Forgive.
  25. Let your pocket change make a difference. 
  26. Plant a tree.
  27. Buy from a independently owned store in your community.
  28. Clean out your closet and donate the clothes.
  29. Offer to carry someone’s groceries or laundry.
  30. Buy a cup of coffee for the person in line behind you.
  31. Put a quarter in an expiring meter.
  32. Drop a Love Bomb.
  33. Keep non-perishable snacks in your car and give them to those who may be asking for food.
  34. Babysit for a friend.
  35. Leave a big tip.
  36. Put inspirational phrases on sticky notes and leave them in surprising places.
  37. Write a letter to someone’s boss, letting them know about the excellent service you have received.
  38. Leave a book you love in a public place for someone to find.
  39. Help fund a dream.
  40. Donate your service or product to a silent auction.
  41. Pick up litter.
  42. Ask someone how you can be of service to them. Then do it!

2 thoughts on “Being of service

  1. Very good ideas for making others feel great. #33…the one about keeping non-perishable food in your car…I was sitting at a light last week and saw a man with a sign that said, “Hungry. Need food.” I had a banana on the passenger seat for a snack later on, and I thought he needed it more than I did. I rolled down the window just a little and held out the banana. The man said, “No thanks…I already had a banana today.” Hmmmmmmmm…try to be nice………:)

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